Every July in view of the anniversary of 1974 war, the ordinary people in both sides mourn for and honour their dead, their innocent children, their brothers and their parents who undeservedly were killed.

Thousands of innocent Greek and Turkish Cypriots have been uprooted starting from the 1950s and continuing in the 1960s until the "final" division of the island in 1974. Their lives have been shaped by the political aims of the ruling classes on both sides and the designs of the Great Powers who sought to secure control of the island situated in such a strategic location in the Mediterranean close to the Middle East oil resources.

For decades the nationalists in both sides have been amplifying their own peoples suffering in order to encourage feelings of hatred and difference between the two sides. Conflict and armed encounters are sparked, flickering back and forth as tensions mount. Militarism has been made to become a "daily part of life". Cyprus itself has become one of the lands where there is a huge concentration of armies, military bases and guns. Those who say no to militarism and nationalism are persecuted and repressed. Those who write against militarism are tried in military courts in the north. The nationalists have been exploiting the pain and suffering of our people throughout the last four decades in order to serve their own needs. We have to say enough is enough. We have to stop them. No more blood for nationalism and war. Thousands of ordinary people in both sides share this desire. Thousands of ordinary people have crossed over to "the other side", sharing and exchanging, recognising their loss and connecting with one another. The desire for peace and reconciliation is so prevalent among the ordinary people on both sides.

In response to this desire, commemorative ceremonies in the north and south will honour the memories of all the innocent Greek and Turkish Cypriots, who were killed throughout the decades, especially in July 1974 that brought the "final" division of the island. But the grief has no "division" - it is common for all those ordinary people in Cyprus who lost their lives in wars, which they themselves neither decided, nor wished for. We never forget nor do we forgive the murderers, but we know that the way for the vindication of those dead will only come when we make a final end of war, the bigotry and the blood-bath and work towards securing peace and democracy in the island.

With our initiative we wish to send a powerful message of peace and reconciliation to the ordinary people living in Cyprus, but also outside the island and in particular to the people in Greece and Turkey. We would like to send a strong message that we wish and we can together struggle for peace because of our collective desire and our common future. Cyprus is our common country and our struggle for peace, democracy and human rights is common.

Free, independent, new Cyprus is possible and we, as all Cypriot can built it together. This message has much bigger importance this year because of the cold climate that was created between the two sides after the referenda on Annan's plan. It is time that ordinary people from both sides should take in hand any initiatives concerning the Cyprus issue and to get our leaderships to reach agreement for a settlement.

Bi-communal Initiative against Nationalism and War

21 July 2004