Cyprus Mail

Famagusta event to focus on peace

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File photo: Othello Castle

Greek and Turkish Cypriot mayors will be present in united display

Underlining the message of International Peace Day, the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot mayors of Famagusta will jointly host an event on Thursday in the medieval centre of town in the north.

This follows and outcry last month when Famagusta mayor Simos Ioannou invited his Turkish Cypriot counterpart to an anti-occupation event in Dherynia.

The event will be held at the Sea Gate in the walled city of Famagusta next to Othello Castle, and both mayors are set to give a small welcome speech, followed by entertainment from the bicommunal choir, and a presentation by Famagustians on life before the Turkish invasion of 1974.

Othello Castle was built in the 14th century by the Lusignans to protect from potential enemies. It took its name from the Shakespearian work, which was set in the city. It was restored in 2014, and opened to the public a year later.

The event will be attended by representatives from the UN and various embassies in Cyprus.

“The event does not have a political character, and all are invited to attend,” Ioannou told the Cyprus Mail.

The loudest voice against Ulucay’s attendance at the Dherynia event was from centre-left party Edek, which was quickly supported by far-right nationalist party Elam.

“The invitation [extended] to the so-called mayor of occupied Famagusta for the anti-occupation event of Famagusta is unacceptable from every point of view,” Edek said.

“The so-called ‘mayor’ [Suleyman Ulucay] has usurped the town hall of the occupied city and installed himself inside the building and supports the [re]settlement of Famagusta, which Turkey and the occupying regime are proceeding with, in violation of UN Security Council resolutions,” Edek added.

But Ioannou stressed that Ulucay is not a ‘so-called’ mayor. According to article 173 of the constitution, “Separate municipalities shall be created in the five largest towns of the Republic, that is to say, Nicosia, Limassol, Famagusta, Larnaca and Paphos.” Under the article each community was meant to elect their own mayor, although the positions were never voted on.

In the end, Ulucay did not attend the Dherynia, event saying he did not want to create a problem in the internal affairs of the Famagusta municipality, or in any efforts to solve the Cyprus issue.

However, this event is set to be different, as it is to celebrate the International Day of Peace, Ioannou said, and all people are invited to attend. “All people that want peace are invited to join”.

The sealed-off part of Famagusta, Varosha, opened by the Turkish Cypriots in 2021 was mostly inhabited by Greek Cypriots, but Ioannou said Famagusta was a mixed city, and that both Greek and Turkish Cypriots worked in the area of Varosha, while the Turkish Cypriots lived in their own neighbourhoods following the troubles of 1960s.

The invitation for Thursday’s event said: “We believe that our individual and collective actions are very important for our country and world peace.”

The event will be open to all on September 21 from 7:30pm in the medieval town of Famagusta

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