Events such as ‘Transformational Leadership for Peace’ held on Monday, were a step in the right direction, President Nicos Anastasiades said in his address to the bi-communal conference at the Ledra Palace Hotel, which Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci also attended.
Addressing Akinci, Anastasiades said “there is no other option or alternative but to bring peace to our country.”
Around 50 Greek Cypriot and 50 Turkish Cypriot school principals were participating at the event organised by the bicommunal technical education committee.
UN special representative Elizabeth Spehar, as well as a representative of the German embassy, also attended.
“It is, I believe, an important event that, without disregarding ethnic origin, seeks to cultivate a culture of peaceful coexistence,” Anastasiades said. “It is an essential element in our efforts for peaceful coexistence, as long as the conditions allow us as Cypriots to work to resolve the Cyprus problem as an independent country.”
“You realise that they are steps in the right direction, but not enough for a solution to the Cyprus problem. First and foremost, respect is needed for a state that no longer has to be a subsidiary of any third country.”
Cypriots have coexisted peacefully, Anastasiades said, until others intervened.
“Interventions by third parties, without exception, created the problems that followed. What we are asking for is that finally the Cypriots, the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots, take the fate of this country in their hands by creating the conditions for peaceful coexistence, creating the future.
He added his and Mustafa Akinci’s presence at the conference “aims to convey the message that we actively support the actions and initiatives of the bi-communal technical education committee.”
“The success of the committee is demonstrated by the fact that over the past two and a half years more than 4,000 students and 650 teachers from both communities have come together.”
In his address, Akinci also referred to the importance of cultivating a culture of peace in Cyprus, while stressing the contribution of education to this.
Speaking through a translator, he said that people have different views and goals, but it is important to have a culture of peace when dealing with these issues.
He also referred to the importance of dialogue in trying to resolve disputes and spoke about the need to respect equality, multiple identities and pluralism.
All these are elements necessary for a federal government to function, he added.