Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, who marched from both sides of the divide, assembled on Thursday evening in the buffer zone, in Nicosia, to call on Cyprus’ leaders to immediately resume settlement talks, ahead of tomorrow’s informal meeting between President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci.

The event was organized by the “Bicommunal Peace Initiative United Cyprus” and the initiative “Famagusta Our Town”. After marching separately, the two groups joined in the barricade of Ledra Street, holding torches and placards with pro-solution messages, while chanting slogans, such as “Cyprus belongs to its people.”

Political party and civil society representatives, as well as Famagusta candidate mayors were among those attending the event. In the beginning, people held a minute of silence in the memory of Natalie Christopher, who was found dead on Wednesday in the Greek island of Ikaria and who was a dedicated peace activist.

In a resolution addressed to the leaders and the United Nations, the “Bicommunal Peace Initiative United Cyprus” notes that the immediate and without any delays resumption of bicommunal settlement talks, as well as the convening of an international conference on Cyprus, on the basis of the Guterres framework, are of crucial importance in order to defuse the crisis in relation to hydrocarbons, Famagusta and other issues.

The resolution also says that Turkey’s unilateral activities around Cyprus and within its exclusive economic zone, which are contrary to international law, need to be terminated.

The lack of progress for more than two years threatens to deepen the divide, intensify tension and usher in new faits accomplis with regard to natural gas and Famagusta, says the resolution which was read in Greek and Turkish and was subsequently approved by the crowd. A representative of the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus received a copy of the resolution to hand it over to the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in Cyprus, Elizabeth Spehar.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third. Turkey has ignored numerous UN resolutions calling for the withdrawal of the Turkish troops and respect of the integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus.  Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The last round of negotiations, in the summer of 2017, at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.

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