[Financial Times] Cyprus: Crossing the divide


Split along ethnic lines for four decades, there is fresh impetus to resolve this seemingly intractable dispute
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades (right) and Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), Mustafa Akinci

On the Greek Cypriot side of the barbed-wire fences, walls and watchtowers that make Nicosia the world’s only divided capital stands a museum dedicated to the vision of a city without barricades and a Cyprus reunited in ethnic harmony.

“Here we encourage Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to understand their common cultural heritage,” says Rita Severis, co-founder of the Centre of Visual Arts and Research, which opened in September 2014. “We think of ourselves as a forum for reconciliation and coexistence.”

Such ideals have often fallen on stony ground in Cyprus, the east Mediterranean island which is famous as the birthplace of Aphrodite, the ancient Greek goddess of love and beauty, and no less renowned as the location of one of the world’s most intractable diplomatic disputes. Now, however, after more than half a century in which Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots have lived in almost complete separation while nursing bitter historical grievances, a different spirit is in the air.

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