In September of 2015, the first ever Cyprus Peace Day Festival occurred and focused on “Celebrating Our Togetherness”. One hundred and fifty attendees of different generations from both the Greek and Turkish Communities played a part in the day’s activities, comprising a symposium, workshops and an evening street festival in the buffer zone in Nicosia. The symposium, titled “No Future without Forgiveness” featured John McKinney, a Northern Irishman renowned worldwide for his role in forgiveness and reconciliation after the terrible 1998 bombing. Mr. McKinney focused on the significance of citizen peace building and stressed the importance of its role in a political settlement.
Attendees exchanged personal stories of friendship, and a ceremony of forgiveness and reconciliation helped heal past wounds by mutually acknowledging the pain felt. The ceremony served as an important reminder that a better understanding of the other’s reality helps correct misconceptions.
The afternoon session included parallel workshops and discussions on ways to support the Cyprus peace process and their communities. This included trainings on how to network, peace build, and cultivate friendship through socializing and culture. Enthusiastic questions demonstrated how such events are critical in creating and sustaining a common understanding and a vision for living together. By the end of the day, the group had created an action plan for future work in this critical phase of Cyprus’ history. It was a great closure to a successful event filled with positive energy and hope for a shared future.