Waving peace flags and dancing to Cypriot folk music, hundreds of Greek and Turkish Cypriots demonstrated for peace on Monday as their leaders continued reunification talks at a Swiss resort that will indicate whether an accord is within reach.
Organizers said the event inside the United Nations-controlled buffer zone aimed to show the determination of Cypriots from both sides for an agreement ending more than four decades of division.
"Fear is holding us back," said Greek Cypriot Rania Georgiou. "Our future must be a shared one."
Turkish Cypriot Cem Parısız said the island's division has been allowed to drag on too long. "We breathe the same air, we drink the same water, we don't need to be separated by borders," he said.
Demonstrators, some wearing olive-branch wreaths, joined in spontaneous dancing as folk dancers performed a medley of traditional songs beloved by both Greek and Turkish Cypriots.
"We just want peace and love," said Turkish Hazal Barışer at the event backed by more than 100 pro-peace groups from both sides.
The event took place as the first day of the second round of U.N.-mediated peace talks over the Cyprus issue in Switzerland on Sunday failed to outline concrete steps to resolve the dispute
The failure of the Greek Cypriot and the Greek side to take a clear stance on issues to which the guarantor countries, including Turkey, Greece and the U.K. could agree brought the negotiations to a bottleneck, a diplomatic source, who declined to be named due to restrictions on talking to the media, said.
Any agreement will mean redrawing existing boundaries and potentially moving thousands of residents from their current homes, 42 years after many were displaced when the island was first split.
If a deal is reached on territorial changes, negotiators are expected to announce a date for a final summit between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders and the three other states involved in the process: Turkey, Greece, and the U.K.
That meeting will focus on security, particularly the presence of 30,000 Turkish troops that remain based on the island after a 1974 military coup was followed by Turkey's intervention as a guarantor power.
Reunification discussions resumed in May 2015, and both sides have repeatedly expressed optimism that a solution would be found by the end of this year.
Once a final agreement is reached, it will be put to both communities in a referendum. A peace deal was approved by Turkish Cypriots in 2004 but rejected by Greek Cypriot voters.