Hundreds of people marched for peace on Tuesday, urging the two community leaders, President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, to return to Cyprus from the ongoing Geneva talks with a positive outcome that would allow for the island’s reunification.
At the bicommunal gathering at the Cetin Kaya football pitch by the Ledra Palace hotel in the Nicosia buffer zone, members of some 130 trade unions, youth and women groups, and non-profit organisations chanted in favour of an agreed settlement to the Cyprus problem and the peaceful co-existence of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.
Despite the biting cold, hundreds of people held banners depicting olive branches and saying “Now is time for peace”, “One country” in Greek and Turkish, “Nikos and Mustafa, return with a solution”, and “Yes to the future, solution now”.
They chanted slogans like “Cyprus belongs to its people”, “United federated Cyprus”, and “Cyprus’ Turks are not our enemies, they are our brothers”.
The event, which started at 6pm, lasted until about 8:30pm, but was marked by brief tension when, about two hours in, a small group of black-clad Greek Cypriots approached the marchers with a hostile attitude.
Reports from the scene had the 30-strong protesters shouting obscenities at the gathered crowd, which responded with chants against fascism.
Police chased the group away, but back-up was called for fear that they might return.
During the march, a resolution calling on the two leaders to negotiate decisively and constructively in Geneva and reach a deal that meets the expectations of all Cypriots, was endorsed by all groups in attendance.
“We are here to say that it is time to leave behind and bury, once and for all, the violence of the past, the nationalist outbursts, and the bigotry that brought pain and separation for the country and its people,” the resolution read.
“We are here to stress that all of us, fighting against division and for the reunification of the island, demand that the process ends positively, leading to a solution and the reunification of our country, securing permanent peace.”
We are all here together, it added, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, and we are joined by our compatriot Armenians, Maronites, and Latins, children of Cyprus, too, and at this crucial moment we all raise the voice of hope, optimism, and prospects for a solution and reunification.
Poems were recited by Turkish Cypriot actor and director Yasar Ersoy and Greek Cypriot actress Christina Christofia, and songs were performed by Greek Cypriot singer Koullis Theodorou and Turkish Cypriot Umut Albayrak.
The event was attended by MPs from ruling Disy and main opposition Akel.