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Speeches by the Mayor

Opening of the Exhibition "Reminiscences" 8 April 2008 - Committee of the Regions - Brussels
Address by Mr Andreas Christou, President of the Union of Cyprus Municipalities

Dear President of the Committee of the Regions,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,
 It is with great pleasure that we join you here today to present and celebrate a unique project by two Cypriot artists.

I would like to thank the Committee of the Regions for giving the artists the chance to have this exhibition here in the heart of the continent, in the institution that is mandated to bring the regions and their people closer together.

The capacity of art to bring people together is undisputed.  It creates an opportunity to share fundamental human expressions, feelings, inspirations and dreams.  And these are what ultimately unite us, creating a sense of community.

The joint project between a Greek and a Turkish Cypriot artist holds great symbolism in the efforts for the two communities in Cyprus coming together.

As you might know, the two biggest communities, which the Cypriot population is composed of, has each one its history and origin. However, the 500 years of co-existence and living together have created (have formed) a common historic route, a mentality and the common traditions and culture, which underline indeed the people's unity in our country.

When the folk singers and instrument players are listened to, when the poets and the novelists work is read, when this exhibition is visited, it will be difficult to identify who is belonging to which community.

Therefore, the long lasting foreign interventions and the nationalists in both sides have achieved this temporary partition of our peoples and the creation of the today's status quo, which no one wishes to tolerate any more the prolongation of. The Cypriots do not want the partition of their homeland. A vital and permanent solution to the Cyprus question cannot be based on this separation. We are convinced too that neither Europe nor can the international community ever allow Cyprus to remain divided.

Over the latest weeks a wind of hope and trusting the future blows in our country.

The leaders of both communities: Mr Christofias and Mr Talat have met and agreed on a couple of basic things:

1.              The negotiations through the technical committees to start again immediately,
2.              The Ledra street roadblock to be demolished and the historically significant street in the divided capital town of Nicosia to open again.

On Thursday 3rd April 2008 after 46 years, this long street opened again indeed, in a climate of strong emotions and at the presence of hundreds of Greek and Turkish Cypriots.  

 It is an event of great symbolism and significant importance. It generates new justified hopes for the negotiations having a hopeful conclusion, but at the same time it facilitates the contact and the communication among people from both communities. This street is a central arterial road of the capital, and because it has opened, "the circulation of new blood and oxygen in the mind and hearts of people will be ensured," as my Turkish Cypriot friend, the politician and local authority veteran Mustafa Akkinzi, said.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We, the Cypriots, do not have any illusions. We know there is still a long way to go before reaching an agreed solution, which will go through many adverse circumstances.

Yet, optimism and our people's trusting the future is imperative as your solidarity and support, are valuable for which we thank you very much indeed.

We do believe in a united Cyprus, a common homeland for all the Cypriots, Greeks, Turkish, Maronites, Armenians and Latins and we will keep on fighting.

 On this occasion, we express to the President and the members of the Committee our esteem for collaborating with the local authorities in Cyprus and we confirm once again that we are ready to develop and enhance it further.