Members of the Büyük Han Coffee Club are a living testament of what reunification could look like on the island.
Irrespective of the state of the reunification talks, this 20 something strong group of Greek and Turkish like minded Cypriots have been sharing coffee, opinions and laughter every Saturday in Lefkosa’s Büyük Han (the island’s largest caravanserai) since 2004.
Along the way; they have attracted hundreds of visitors including Cypriots from both sides of the divide, sightseers, politicians, journalists, ambassadors and UN delegates.
What Cyprus problem? That’s the question you might be tempted to ask on a sunny spring Saturday morning as the group tease each other over coffee, laughing, discussing politics and speaking each others’ languages, or at least attempting to.
Weather and life permitting, the core coffee club group which began with four members – Greek Cypriot Andreas Paralikis and three Turkish Cypriots Hasan Çirakli, Suleyman Erguclu and Hasip Erel – now has between 15 – 25 attendees come rain or shine, 52 Saturdays of the year. As the sound of jovial banter grows and tables are added to in an ever expanding row, it’s difficult to comprehend that 42 years ago some of these very people would have been pointing guns and forced to shoot at one another.
Some outsiders have called them traitors, others recognise the respect and friendships between them, yet the progressive thinking group of friends shrug off ‘naysayers’ and continue committed to their vision, that a shared future is possible.