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On June 24th, the Cyprus Peace and Dialogue Centre co-organised a Business and Networking Fair inside the UN buffer zone in Nicosia with UNFICYP, International Communities Organisation, CyprusInno and the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI).

More than than 200 people from all communities of Cyprus attended an evening of networking and conversations with businesses and entrepreneurship organisations from across the island where they had an opportunity to visit business stalls and build new relationships and collaborations, and participate in panel discussions on: how to bring communities together using innovation, technology and social entrepreneurship; trade and business collaboration between communities; and how to establish intercommunal businesses and organisations.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Cyprus, Mr Colin Stewart, hosted a roundtable discussion with 25 participants from organisations and business across the island, where they discussed opportunities for economic cooperation and partnerships between the communities, and had the opportunity to platform their concerns.

Supporting and participating organisations included the Bicommunal Famagusta Initiative, the Association of Shopkeepers and Artisans, JCI Larnaca, Oxygono, the British Council, StartUp Grind Cyprus, Information Centres of Youth Board of Cyprus, CYENS, Cyprus Youth Council, TCCC Women’s entrepreneurship council, Famagusta Youth Union, Nicosia Youth Union,  Young Businessmen Association (G?AD), Trade GreenLine, Cyprus Bilingualism Association, Cyprus Entrepreneurship Station, as well as the EU-funded projects Innovative Entrepreneurship and EU Infopoint. Ten businesses from across the island also participated with their stands.

The Association of Bi-lingualism in Cyprus provided language assistance in Turkish and Greek to support communication among participants.

“It was a fantastic event. I hope it’s the beginning of a series of similar activities. It was an opportunity to discuss practical business matters with members of the other community and not just in abstract. Let’s keep it up and continue the discussion. Trade can lead to peace.” Nicolas Kyriakides, Vice-president of the Board of Oxygono

Following the event, UN official in Cyprus, Colin Stewart, met with Meltem Onurakan Samani from the Cyprus Peace & Dialogue Centre, a bi-communal organisation supported by International Communities Organisation, working collaboratively to devise actionable cross-community solutions to cultivate long-lasting peace in Cyprus.

International Communities Organisation Secretary General, James Holmes commented: “after providing funding for the event, I am very pleased to see it come to fruition with such gusto from all involved. These are small but incremental steps to building understanding and cooperation”.

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