Two leaders of Cyprus wish joint Happy New Year
Ömer Bilge – NICOSIA
AFP photoThe Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders of the divided Mediterranean island of Cyprus have taken to the airwaves together to send out holiday wishes in both Greek and Turkish for the first time.
Greek Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı said – both in Turkish and Greek – during a televised message on Dec. 24 that they hoped the New Year would usher in a peace accord.
Akıncı said permanent peace and welfare was what he wished from 2016.
“I hope the New Year brings permanent peace, tranquility and welfare to all Cypriots. Happy New Year,” said Akıncı first in Turkish and then in Greek.
As for his counterpart, Anastasiades, he expressed hope that next year would see Greek and Turkish Cypriots living peacefully together again in a reunified Cyprus.
“I hope that the New Year will allow for us Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to once again live in peace in our reunited homeland. Happy New Year,” said Anastasiades, first in Greek and then in Turkish.
The televised message showed both of the leaders trying to pronounce the other’s language, with Akıncı encountering less problems in pronouncing his message in Greek than Anastasiades speaking his message in Turkish.
The messages aimed to reaffirm their commitment to reach a peace deal as negotiations enter their eighth month.
Cyprus has been split since 1974 when Turkey partially invaded the island after a coup aiming at “enosis” (union) with Greece took place.
The peace talks to find a solution to the more than 40-year-old conflict increased in May this year after Akıncı was elected as Turkish Cyprus’ new president.
The two leaders of the Cypriot communities have been meeting since then under the auspices of the United Nations in order to find a peaceful solution.
Akıncı and Anastasiades met six times in November and three times in December, the last time on Dec. 20, when they jointly visited a U.N.-sponsored committee on missing persons from the island’s conflicts.
The message of the leaders aired on TV was shot during this meeting.
The leaders agreed to meet three times in January 2016, on Jan. 7, 14 and 29, with the aim “of reaching a comprehensive settlement as soon as possible,” according to a statement released after the Dec. 20 meeting.