The Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders planted olive trees today in a gesture of peace, pledging to continue participating in United Nations-backed talks to unify the Mediterranean island.
The two trees were planted at a ceremony by Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat at the entrance of the site where they are holding their discussions in Cyprus’ capital, Nicosia.
They also received a petition from civil society representatives from both communities in support of the negotiations.
Last May, Mr. Christofias and Mr. Talat committed themselves to working towards “a bicommunal, bizonal federation with political equality, as defined by relevant Security Council resolutions.” That partnership would comprise a Federal Government with a single international personality, along with a Turkish Cypriot Constituent State and a Greek Cypriot Constituent State, which would be of equal status.
The leaders expressed their dedication to enhancing their efforts towards peace but maintaining channels of communication and promoting reconciliation between the communities, as well as building mutual trust at today’s ceremony, after which they resumed their talks.
Following those discussions, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative Tayé-Brook Zerihoun told reporters that the leaders plan to meet next week to continue their talks on governance, external relations and property rights.
The UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) has been in place on the island since 1964, following the outbreak of inter-communal violence.