Cyprus Peace Day Concert
Opening Remarks by Lisa M. Buttenheim, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and UNFICYP Chief of Mission
Old Nicosia Airport, UNPA, 16 Sept 2010
Good evening and welcome. It is a great pleasure to be here with all of you tonight. I know that everyone is looking forward to the performance, so I will keep my remarks brief. But I do want to take a moment to thank the organizers for putting together this very special concert.
In a few moments you will hear the sounds of the Cyprus Symphony Orchestra. This talented cast of musicians, led by maestro Yiannis Hadjiloizou, is, one could say, a mini United Nations – a multi-national ensemble made up of Cypriots and individuals from nearly a dozen other countries. Their generous offer to play for us tonight to help commemorate this year’s Peace Day is warmly welcomed and greatly appreciated. Thank you all for being here with us this evening.
As some of you will know, I have recently taken up my position here in Cyprus and have only had a few opportunities during my two weeks here to meet with you, let alone make public addresses. As the new head of our peacekeeping mission, coupled with the fact that I am an avid music lover, I welcome that my first public address here in my official role in Cyprus is to open our Peace Day concert.
Peace Day, observed each year on 21 September, is a global call for ceasefire and non-violence. Each year, the Secretary-General, his Messengers of Peace, the entire United Nations system and many individuals, groups and organizations around the world rely on this Day of Peace to engage in activities that contribute to ceasefires, end conflict, bridge cultural divides and create tolerance. My hope is that our contribution to this worldwide effort, although taking place some days before the actual observance, will reverberate in the days to come and well beyond.
The setting for this evening’s concert – the old Nicosia Airport – is a sad reminder of a situation whose resolution is long overdue. The last passenger jets took off from here in 1974 on this very tarmac where we stand; 36 years later the airport remains frozen in time. Tonight it comes alive with the sounds and harmonies of the Cyprus Symphony Orchestra.
Music indeed is a universal language; a language which truly knows no boundaries. However, this evening’s event is more than just music. It is an opportunity for all Cypriots and the UN community to join as one and reaffirm our commitment to peace.
Again, thanks to Yiannis and the Cyprus Symphony Orchestra for this special concert and to all those who contributed, including Chris Eliades for this impressive light display and others who made this event possible.
On that note, I wish you a pleasant evening. Enjoy the concert!