Fourth Bi-Communal Festival takes place in Pyla
The 2018 Pyla Peace Festival took place on 12-13 October and was supported by UNFICYP. Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot residents in the village, representatives from the diplomatic community and local authorities attended the event, enjoying food, drink, entertainment and shopping.
Additionally, awards for contributions to peace in Cyprus were presented by the two local Mukhtars (Mayors) to the former leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot community, Mr. Dimitris Christofias Christofias and Mr. Mehmet Ali Talat, respectively, as well as to the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General and Head of UNFICYP, Elizabeth Spehar.
Furthermore, the newly established Pyla Bi-communal Women’s Initiative participated for the first time in the festival, to encourage more women to join them and share their environmental concerns.
UNFICYP established a Civil Affairs Office in Pyla in January 2015. Among its other priorities, it aimed to help the Pyla community leaders – at the time, Mr. Simos Mytides, the local leader of the Greek Cypriot community, and Mr. Nejdet Enver, the local leader of the Turkish Cypriot community – to establish closer relationships and cooperation between all residents of the village and build confidence among them.
This strengthened the relationship between the two community leaders and, with UNFICYP’s encouragement, they decided to organize the first bi-communal festival in Pyla. The festival was attended by 1500 participants and gave an opportunity to the residents to come together in a shared space and enjoy themselves in their own village.
Subsequent editions of the Pyla Peace Festival have grown exponentially, more than tripling its attendance in the four years since its inception. This year marked the fourth time the Festival has been successfully organized, despite a change in the leadership of the Turkish Cypriot Pyla community. Mr. Veysal Guden, the new Turkish Cypriot Mukhtar was keen to cooperate with his Greek Cypriot counterpart, to ensure the Festival took place.
Pyla is the only bicommunal village after 1974 in Cyprus, with a population of 1700. It has two primary schools, one Greek Cypriot and one Turkish Cypriot, a variety of coffee shops and religious sites (a mosque and a Greek Orthodox church). The community is represented by a local leader from the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities.