Saturday 6 February 2010 marked the culmination of 3 years worth of planning and hard work to see off the start of a shared centre for civil society organisations and people from both sides of the divided island. The official start of the renovation works on the house which will host the bi-communal centre Home for Cooperation drew as many as 100 people to a street party in the UN controlled buffer zone this Saturday afternoon.
The establishment of the shared centre is led by Cypriot civil society. The Association for Historical Dialogue and Research, comprised of Turkish-Cypriot and Greek-Cypriot educators and historians, began planning the centre 3 years ago. Civil society from both communities has later been brought onboard, and support has also been rallied among local authorities in both Cypriot communities, the Cypriot government, the UN and the Council of Europe.
In December 2007, the centre was awarded a €750,000 grant from Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein – testifying to the strong political support of the project and providing the necessary financial means to set the idea out in practice.
The new shared centre, the Home for Cooperation, is expected to open in early 2011. It will serve as a meeting space for civil society organisations and an educational centre for children and teachers from both Cypriot communities. Additionally, the house will host a museum and an exhibition centre, archives, and a research centre.
Peace talks between the two communities on Cyprus were launched in September 2008. In his visit to the island earlier this month, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon delivered a joint statement on behalf of the two Cypriot leaders through which they expressed their confidence that with "good will and confidence" a solution could be reached "in the shortest possible time".