Poll findings: Cyprus
December 17, 2010
A summary of the latest poll results – Despite low expectations, Cypriots have strong desire for a solution and they tolerate compromise. However, challenges remain.
The latest island-wide public opinion poll, conducted in the context of the ‘Cyprus 2015: Research and Dialogue for a Sustainable Future’ initiative, shows that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots retain a strong desire for a solution to the Cyprus problem and are prepared for compromise in a number of areas.
But their expectations are low and finding middle ground in some areas will be a challenge. A particular problem emerges in the form of a gap between first track negotiators and the general public, especially in preparation for potential referenda.
The Peace Process:
- Large majorities (68% GC, 65% TC) wish that the negotiations will lead to a settlement. Only a minority (14% GC, 21% TC) prefers that nothing comes of the process. Against this, equally large majorities do not believe the negotiations will lead to results (65% GC, 69% TC).
- Arbitration is the least popular role for the UN (33% GC, 51% TC), while both communities strongly favor a role for the UN which would involve submitting ideas, but leaving it up to the sides to decide whether and how they will make use of them (82% GC, 70% TC).
- Both communities support the appointment of an EU representative in the negotiations, who will be there to offer technical support when needed in matters related to Cyprus’ responsibilities as an EU state (88% GC, 62% TC).
- In contrast, Greek Cypriots reject the inclusion of ‘motherlands’ by appointment of representatives to participate in the discussion on all pending chapters of the negotiations (44%) while Turkish Cypriots are in favor (64%). Neither community supports changing the format of the talks so that they no longer take place between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus (43% GC, 32% TC).
- People generally expect the leaders to jointly set benchmarks in order to achieve a mutually agreed settlement (86% GC, 72% TC). Additionally, both communities agree that leaders should be meeting as frequently as possible to this end (80% GC, 70% TC). Both communities – but especially the Greek Cypriots – tend to agree with a parallel discussion of all remaining dossiers with a process of give and take between them (72% GC, 60% TC).
- There is general support for the role of leader representatives in preparing the ground before the leaders themselves convene for intensive talks (77% GC, 75% TC). Both communities believe that the role of expert working groups (88% GC, 68% TC) and technical committees (88% GC, 63% TC) should be upgraded in the talks.
- There is general support for the idea that independent think tanks should be established to provide the leaderships with new ideas for the resolution of pending issues in the talks (89% GC, 64% TC) and for the creation of a mechanism whereby ordinary citizens are informed on a regular basis of what is going on in the peace process (88% GC, 77% TC).
- Both communities consider bringing Cyprus forward into a new era of long term sustainable peace (98% GC, 73% TC) and allowing Cyprus to be a normal state fully integrated into the EU without the Cyprus Problem pulling it down (86% GC, 65% TC) to be important motivating factors for solving the Cyprus problem.
- Economic factors are also seen as important motivating factors by both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, such as to create new business and job opportunities (89% GC, 77% TC) and to increase the potential for attracting foreign investment to Cyprus (84% GC, 69% TC).
- Greek Cypriots are particularly motivated by the prospect of achieving the departure of foreign troops from the island (98%) and achieving the termination of the guarantees and rights of intervention (96%). Turkish Cypriots are not keen to see the departure of foreign troops from the island (31%) and the termination of guarantees and rights of intervention (25%).
- Greek Cypriots consider essential allowing refugees to return to their homes (99%) and recovering the control of towns and villages lost in 1963 / 1974 (98%).
- Turkish Cypriots would like to see an end to their international isolation (76%) and to enjoying the benefits of being EU citizens (74%)Constraining Factors:
- A factor for both communities not wanting to solve the Cyprus problem is the idea that the other side would never accept the actual compromises and concessions that are needed for a fair and viable settlement (84% GC, 70% TC) and the idea that the other side would not honor the agreement and therefore implementation would fail (82% GC, 68% TC).
- Not desiring to be governed through a political system where the two communities share power (58% GC, 54% TC) or being anxious that through a settlement the other side might de facto end up controlling all of Cyprus (87% GC, 59% TC) are constraining factors for both communities. Greek Cypriots are especially concerned with the prospect of a solution leading to a dysfunctional system of administration (63%).
- Both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots express concern that through a settlement conditions for renewed violence between the two communities might be created (69% GC, 56% TC).
- Turkish Cypriots are constrained by the idea that too much time has passed with the two communities being apart and we can no longer live together (53%).
- Greek Cypriots express a concern that their community might be called to carry the burden of the cost of the solution and end up subsidizing the other community (59%), whereas Turkish Cypriots are more concerned about the costs of solving the property issue in a solution proving to be too high (52%).
- Both communities would be constrained in supporting a solution in case the solution plan does not create conditions of true political equality between the two communities (71% GC, 71% TC).
- Turkish Cypriots are discouraged by disappointment over a peace process that has been going on for a very long time (55%) and over a UN System that is perceived to be favoring the other side (54%).
- A vast majority of Greek Cypriots would be discouraged in case the solution plan deviates from the implementation of human rights, European principles and European values (95%) or in case the solution plan benefits the interests of Turkey over the interests of Cypriots (96%).
The Settlement Framework:
- Greek Cypriots favor a unitary state over other alternatives (92% support). Federation is a distant second, but still acceptable to a majority of the population (79% support). Turkish Cypriots favor two states (90% support), but are prepared to accept federation as a compromise (76% support).
- Greek Cypriots strongly support their own interpretation of federation – without restrictions to residence rights and without ‘motherland’ guarantees– (87% support), but consider the Turkish Cypriot interpretation of federation (28% support) to be even worse than the status quo (37% support).
- In contrast, Turkish Cypriots strongly support their interpretation of federation – with restrictions to residence rights and ‘motherland’ guarantees – (66% support), while consider the Greek Cypriot interpretation of federation (53% support) to be worse than the status quo (64% support).
- Consensual separation scenarios, while unacceptable to a majority of Greek Cypriots, are seen as marginally preferable to the status quo (38% support).
- For Turkish Cypriots, a consensual separation with both states in the EU is seen as the ideal outcome (79% support), even more preferred than the Turkish Cypriot interpretation of federation (69% support), while interim solutions such as Taiwanization or Kosovoization are rejected as half measures (50% and 46% support respectively).
- Position to annexation of the north by Turkey seems to be the one point where the perspectives of the two communities converge (option ranked last in both communities).
Next Steps (in case we reach the end of 2010 and no significant progress in the peace talks has yet been made):
- Both communities – especially Greek Cypriots – support continuing with the current format of direct negotiations between the leaders of the two communities under the auspices of the UN until success is reached (83% GC, 60% TC). Additionally, it is preferred not to move the process to a phase of UN arbitration in order to finalise all aspects of the plan that were not agreed by the leaders (42% GC, 46% TC).
- Both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots support moving the process to an international conference trough which to resolve all pending issues (60% GC, 55% TC), or continuing with broadened direct negotiations between the leaders of the two communities by including representatives of Greece, Turkey and the EU in the talks (59% GC, 53% TC).
- Turkish Cypriots would welcome a shift in emphasis towards lifting all economic, social and cultural isolations from their community (79% support) or terminating the talks and moving towards recognition of the ‘TRNC’ (58% support), but such alternatives gather almost no support among Greek Cypriots (16% and 3% support respectively).
- Both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots agree with putting the current basis of talks to referendum in both communities and if not accepted to change the basis of the talks (53% GC, 55% TC). However, Greek Cypriots do not agree with changing the basis of the talks to negotiated partition through a territory / property for recognition deal (only 11% support).
- Many Turkish Cypriots would support closing down UNFICYP operations (48% support), but this option is rejected by Greek Cypriots (only 11% support).
- Sample Size: 800 Greek Cypriots and 800 Turkish Cypriots.
- Sampling Process: Multi-stage Random Stratified Sampling
- Method of Data Collection: Face to Face Interviews with a Structured Questionnaire at Homes of Respondents and in their Native Language
- Period of Data Collection: 5th–30th September 2010
- Project Team: Ahmet Sözen, Spyros Christou, Alexandros Lordos, Erol Kaymak
- Questionnaire Design: Through a participatory process which included key stakeholders from both communities
- Field Work: Symmetron Market Research for Greek Cypriots and KADEM Cyprus Social Research for Turkish Cypriots