On October 12, the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Cyprus Peace Council was celebrated at the WCOD event hall in Nicosia. The event was addressed by Andros Kyprianou, general secretary of the Central Committee of the Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL); Thanasis Pafilis, secretary general of the World Peace Council; and Stelios Sofoklis, president of the Cyprus Peace Council.
The Cyprus Peace Council was formed in 1949 by progressive movements to lead the struggles of the Cypriot people and it played a key role in the fight for self-determination, liberation from colonialism, inter-communal harmony, peace and demilitarization of the island. The Cyprus Peace Council was a co-founder of the World Peace Council and made significant interventions to bring international attention to the Cyprus problem. The council also cooperated with campaigns for peace in Palestine, against NATO bombings in Yugoslavia, peace in Syria etc.
In the meeting on October 12, Andros Kyprianou of AKEL said that “For seven decades, the council has been working for peace and cooperation. Its establishment was clearly not accidental. It was need of the hour after World War II. It was the birth of the demand of all mankind to prevent nuclear war. In response to this demand, the progressive movement of Cyprus established the Cyprus Peace Council.”
In his speech, Stelios Sofoklis, president of the council, highlighted the major interventions of the council in and outside Cyprus. The gathering also honored several former heads and office-bearers of the council.
The British colonial administration that directly ruled Cyprus for decades purposefully tried to divide the islanders on ethnic lines in order to weaken the independence movement. Even after attaining independence from the British, ethnic tension prevailed in the island between the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots.
Hyper-nationalists on both sides, with the backing of the Greek and Turkish establishments, confronted each other, causing the escalation of ethnic conflict in the island during 1963-64. Later, the intervention of the Greek military in 1974 and the Turkish military’s response, resulted in the de-facto division of the country on ethnic lines and the internal displacement of thousands of Cypriots. Throughout this period, the Cyprus Peace Council continuously engaged both sides while striving to restore peace and bring about reconciliation between the communities.