Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots joined forces on Saturday at the Ledra Palace, demanding the opening of new checkpoints, streamlined procedures at crossing points, and the reunification of Cyprus within the framework of a comprehensive solution.

The event commemorated the 20th anniversary of the opening of the first crossing in April 2003 and the partial lifting of restrictions on movement.

In parallel marches starting from both sides, demonstrators marched towards their sides of the respective crossings and then met in front of the Home for Cooperation inside the Green Line at the Ledra Palace after also gathering at the Ledra Street crossing.

The rally, supported by approximately 110 political parties and organisations, was attended by prominent figures such as Akel general-secretary Stefanos Stefanou, Republican Turkish Party general-secretary Asim Akansoi, Communal Democracy Party leader Mine Atli, United Cyprus Party President Izet Izcan, ‘New Cyprus’ Party leader Murat Kanatli, and Akel’s Turkish Cypriot MEP Niazi Kızılyürek.

Also taking part was the ‘mayor’ of the northern part of Nicosia Mehmet Harmanci and the mayor of Famagusta Simos Ioannou and other community leaders from both sides plus left-wing union representatives and other bicommunal groups.

During the event, the protesters chanted slogans in favour of peace and a resolution to the Cyprus problem and presented a resolution to the UN.

The resolution said that the current crossing points fail to meet the needs of the people and that the existing formalities and unnecessary procedures create further obstacles to movement.

It also emphasised the urgent need for simplified and efficient procedures to reduce long queues and bureaucracy.

The organisations also stressed the mounting pressure from affected individuals across Cyprus to open more crossing points and noted that this need has been recognised by the authorities, but direct decisions have not yet been taken.

They also reminded that the UN Security Council itself, in its most recent decision, urged the parties to reduce existing obstacles to intercommunal communication.

Stefanos Stefanou, the General Secretary of Akel, stated that his party participated in the rally to support the opening of more checkpoints, which, as he indicated, would further facilitate contact between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.

He emphasised that the opening of checkpoints does not constitute the solution to the problem and that the existing issues must be fundamentally resolved through a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem. within the framework of UN resolutions, with political equality.

He added that until a resolution is achieved, all necessary measures and initiatives should be taken to build trust between the two communities and convey the need for a solution.

Nikos Cleanthous, the Community Leader of Kato Pyrgos, stressed that the region of Tillyria has suffered the consequences of separation since 1963, expressing the unanimous demand of Tillyria residents and the wider Chrysochous district for the immediate opening of the Kokkina checkpoint, which would allow unhindered movement between the two sides.

According to him, there should be no negotiation for the opening of other checkpoints without the opening of the Kokkina checkpoint.

Meanwhile, Christina Valanidou, a member of the Intercommunal Peace Initiative ‘United Cyprus’, stated that crossing points should be more accessible to people, calling for several bureaucratic procedures to be abolished, and at the same time, stressing that there is a great need to open checkpoints in other areas, including Nicosia, Athienou, Pyroi, and Kokkina.

“This situation that followed the opening of the checkpoints proved that the two communities can live together without problems,” she said.

The event concluded with songs performed by the intercommunal choir.