Hundreds of Greek and Turkish Cypriots defied near-freezing temperatures to partake in a nighttime event on Tuesday aimed at exerting pressure on their leaders to conclude an agreement to reunify Cyprus.
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci started a new round of negotiations in Geneva on Monday in search of an agreement to end the 43-year-long division of the eastern Mediterranean island.
They are scheduled to conclude their talks on Wednesday, and on Thursday they will attend an international conference with the three guarantor powers — Greece, Turkey and Britain — plus the European Union (EU) and UN Security Council members, to try to seek a security arrangement after a solution.
Original optimism gave way to pessimism about the outcome of the negotiations when deep-rooted differences and suspicion emerged.
In a bid to force a reversal of the negative climate, Greeks and Turks filled a soccer field and adjoining streets in the buffer zone dividing the capital city Nicosia to demand effective negotiations.
Over 135 political parties, trade unions, cultural organizations, and civil society groups from both sides signed a petition urging Anastasiades and Akinci to act in a decisive and creative way to conclude an agreement that will meet the expectations of the people for a reunified country.
Participants carried banners in support of a positive conclusion to the negotiations and cheered performers who read poems and sang Greek and Turkish songs, many of them speaking about former days when Greeks and Turks lived side by side.