Dear Nikos and Ersin,

Hello. We are Doga and Liana: two Cypriot teenagers from both sides of the divide. In light of the general assembly in New York, we are writing to you united in pursuit of a peaceful future and wanted to share some thoughts. Perhaps, more than anything else, we want to remind you that as the Cypriot people, we are approaching a point of no return.

We live in a world of climate change and war in Ukraine. In this world, the Cyprus conflict, and the tragic developments on the island this summer, are of little interest to the international community. No superpower will push aside their interests for us. However, negotiating a lasting solution to a conflict ongoing for more than half a century sets a precedent for solving all the ongoing conflicts in the world – which has huge implications for the international community.

So if you stand united in conveying political will for a Cypriot solution negotiated for the Cypriot people, the international community will support you. We ask you to act not as politicians with ulterior motives, but as leaders with a vision.

Dear Ersin, as the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, we expect to see a change in your attitude. We urge you to act in the interests of Turkish-speaking Cypriots, grounded in a united and peaceful Cyprus. Dear Nikos, as the leader of the Greek-Cypriot community and as President of the Republic of Cyprus, we expect you to speak and act on behalf of the common interests of all Cypriots.

We hope that neither side will try to use New York as a stage for provocations, accusations and incidents further dividing us; nor that any side will attempt to use re-starting negotiations as an item in exchange for retreats. We ask our leaders to sit at the same table and engage in constructive discussions, focusing on presenting attainable objectives where the support of the international community is crucial.

We also expect them to extend the invitation and urge the European Union to be involved, demonstrating the ability to pressure foreign actors to stop blocking efforts for a peaceful resolution.

Are our expectations likely to happen? Are we naive in asking you to fight for peace, as if your interests lie entirely in negotiating a solution? Perhaps. But perhaps, in a Cyprus where we have almost given up believing in peace, we need to be ambitious and bold in addressing our leaders. After all, what’s on the line is not your personal interests, but our generation’s future.

The general assembly only takes place once a year. Wasting this opportunity to stand united in portraying the vision of Cypriots not only sets a year’s worth of progress behind but also hinders the momentum towards peace. Here we stand, two 17-year-old Cypriots from both communities united in writing for the future of our island. If two children who grew up being taught to hate each other can unite for their future, let us see that in a UN assembly, you manage to gain the attention of the international community by uniting to convey the vision of the Cypriot people in the pursuit of peace.

Sincerely, Liana and Doga