Nicosia (AFP) - Rival Cypriot leaders have issued a joint festive message across the divided island in each other's language, in a show of unity as they push for peace in 2016.
Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Mustafa Akinci expressed hopes for reunification in the Christmas Eve televised message which was also posted on YouTube.
"I wish the new year will allow us... to live once more peacefully in a reunited country," Anastasiades said in Turkish, the first time he has spoken the language in public.
Standing beside him, Akinci said in Greek: "I wish the new year will bring lasting peace, serenity and prosperity to all Cypriots".
EU Commission spokesperson Margaritis Schinas praised their statement, tweeting: "Joint Christmas wishes best symbol of hope for a great European #Cyprus in 2016".
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops occupied its northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece.
Last week Cypriot leaders wrapped up UN peace negotiations for 2015 saying they hoped next year would bring an elusive reunification deal for the divided island.
Their next meetings are planned for January 7, 14 and 29 with the aim "of reaching a comprehensive settlement as soon as possible".