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Grassroots group meets Anastasiades, pushes him for way forward on Cyprus

A delegation from UniteCyprusNow met with President Nicos Anastasiades on Friday following his invitation to discuss the details of the Conference on Cyprus in Switzerland which ended inconclusively earlier in the month.

During the meeting, the group said that it sought insight about his views on the way forward for a united Cyprus.

The group also presented Anastasiades its demands aimed at overcoming the deadlock.

The multi-communal citizens’ initiative demands that the two sides put an end to the game and urged them to “take their share of the responsibility for the failure of the conference, alter the zero-sum, concession-reluctant and risk-averse mentality, and make a joint call on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to restart the negotiations based on the June 30 framework”.

They also call on the two sides to immediately start educating people about a bizonal, bicommunal federation being the only possible and viable solution in Cyprus for a peaceful and prosperous coexistence, and convey an accurate picture of what a federation is.

The group also calls for “urgent steps to erode the division in practice and at a grassroots level by encouraging economic, educational, cultural, social and sporting cooperation between the north and south, and overcome all the legal, administrative and practical obstacles that prevent interaction, cooperation and interdependence”.

“End the official nationalist rhetoric that breeds division, erodes common Cypriot identity, nurtures misperceptions and mistrust; end the intimidation of supporters of federal solution; address and penalise hate speech, discrimination and hate crimes especially faced by Turkish Cypriots,” the group said.

They also urged the two leaders to open the Dheryneia and Apliki crossing points without further delay, and authorise the Bicommunal Technical Working Group on Education to reform the education system on both sides “to rid the curricula and books of all nationalist and racist elements and promote peace, acceptance and coexistence”.

The group, which is to also meet Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci in the coming days, said that they would make a comprehensive assessment of both meetings and would announce their conclusions.

UniteCyprusNow was formed more than two months ago by people who met during the daily protests held since May in the buffer zone between the Ledra Street and Lokmaci crossings, in Nicosia aimed at supporting but also putting pressure on the two leaders to push forward with a settlement solution.

Ten members of UniteCyprusNow travelled – with the sponsorship of the Stelios Philanthropic Foundation – to the swiss resort of Crans-Montana where the talks were held between June 28 and July 7, to raise awareness about the importance of a solution in international media and encourage the leaders and guarantor powers to be constructive.

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