Greek, Turkish Cypriots protest for peace as leaders bicker

Cypriots from both sides of the divide, Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriots, marched on Wednesday in support of a solution that will reunify the island.

The demonstration took place ahead of talks to begin in Geneva on April 27; there appears to be no consensus from leaders from either side, however.

The protest march brought together 250 demonstrators according to Cyprus police reports. Demonstrators held placards reading “Yes to a solution” and chanted “Cyprus belongs to its people” in both Greek and Turkish, the Associated Press reported.

Demonstrators came together in the United Nations buffer zone, which separates the two sides of the divided capital Nicosia, and handed the former president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) Mustafa Akıncı a declaration urging him and Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades to seize the moment and reach agreement “without hesitation”.

A separate petition was handed to Cyprus’s Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides, who tweeted that he would “continue my efforts for reunification”.

Cyprus was split in 1974 when Turkey invaded in the wake of a coup aiming at union with Greece. In 1983, Turkish Cypriots declared a breakaway state, which only Turkey recognises. Talks between current TRNC President Ersin Tatar and Anastasiades ahead of the meeting in Geneva have shown considerable distance between the two sides.

Tatar espouses a “two-state” solution, in which Cyprus would recognise the TRNC, and each part of the island would govern itself.

Anastasiades, along with a majority of Cyprus politicians, supports reunification, although some leaders seek a federal system like that of Belgium.

The two leaders have met several times with the head of the U.N. peacekeeping force in Cyprus, Elizabeth Spehar, at her formal residence in the island's U.N.-controlled buffer zone.

Anastasiades has indicated that he and Tatar remain far apart on core issues.

“To my recollection, expectations on the Cyprus problem have never been lower,” commented Hubert Faustmann, professor for history and political science at the University of Nicosia.