Linking grassroots with decision-makers: participatory polls inform Peace Talks in Cyprus

May 28, 2017

The current round of peace talks in Cyprus has advanced further than any previous round has since the division of the island in 1974. This is a significant achievement of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaderships in the UN-facilitated talks – whether they are now able to reach a final agreement or not. Interpeace has been engaged in support of peace in Cyprus together with local actors since 2009 and has also been contributing to these latest efforts at reaching peace.

In line with its Track 6 approach of linking the grassroots (Track 3), civil society (Track 2), and high-level political actors (Track 1), Interpeace has supported the conduct of participatory polls to inform the peace talks and the public debate. The hallmark of participatory polls is that the questionnaires are designed together with the stakeholders, which increases the results’ relevance and uptake with decision-makers, anchoring high-level political processes in attitudes of the public. Interpeace and its partners have already carried out such polls in Cyprus previously as well as in Somalia.

Over the course of the last five months, the participatory polls conducted in Cyprus in partnership with Dr Colin Irwin of the University of Liverpool and Cypriot stakeholders have helped identify common ground between the two Cypriot communities on thorny issues in the peace talks, such as territory, governance, and security.

In addition, the polls have revealed that reciprocal confidence-building measures between the two communities are of critical importance to build trust and support for the prospect of peace. The polls have offered precise information about which confidence building measures have the greatest chance of bringing the communities closer together.

In order to inform and inspire the public debate on peace in both parts of the island, these polls are now being published in Cypriot news outlets and on in English, Greek, and Turkish.

A further component of Interpeace’s engagement in Cyprus is its continued partnership with the Centre for Sustainable Peace and Democratic Development (SeeD). In recent months, SeeD has been implementing a research and dialogue process to develop and share innovative options for addressing the security dossier in the Cyprus peace talks. This Security Dialogue Initiative has generated proposals for a new Security Architecture, which have informed the peace talks and the public debate in both communities. They are available from SeeD’s website