It may not amount to a state visit but this bear on Friday had the president’s ear, or maybe that was the other way around, as it sat in the VIP chair at the presidential palace in Nicosia.
It was difficult to determine the conversation but President Nicos Anastasiades likely briefed the bear on the latest developments on the Cyprus issue and how he is working tirelessly to end the ‘unbearable’ deadlock. Like UN envoy Jane Holl Lute earlier in the week, the bear made no statements after the meeting.
The bear, ‘Hara’ (Joy), in fact, was visiting the palace as part of a Christmas campaign to lift the spirits of children hospitalised in Makarios hospital. It is travelling the city to collect Christmas messages in a box for the sick children.
Despite his full schedule, the president found time to talk to the bear and listen to its wish, which, according to its handlers, is that it be taken to visit sick children at Makarios hospital on Christmas Day.
The president, in his message, which he wrote down and dropped in the ‘box of joy’ wished “for all the children to recover and return home healthy”.
During the meeting, Anastasiades congratulated the Bank of Cyprus and NGO Reaction, the two organisations which created the campaign.
On Saturday, December 22, ‘Hara’ will be at the Mall of Cyprus, where the teddy bear will offer the wooden box to the public to fill it with wishes. It will also be at the new Nicosia Mail on Sunday.
It will reach its final destination, Makarios Hospital, on Christmas Eve. There it will be joined by Santa Claus, who will distribute teddy bears to all the children; and the wishes will be displayed.
The public is asked to add their wishes to the box of joy as part of the festive spirit.
“Give them your optimism and love, these days they definitely have even more need for it,” the organisers urged.