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UN Secretary-General holding critical peace talks - Interpeace provides insights

January 25, 2011
Est. Reading: 5 minutes
Photo credit: Interpeace


Geneva, 25 January 2011

The Greek Cypriot leader, Dimitris Christofias, and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Dervis Eroglu, will meet in Geneva on 26 January 2011 with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Opinion polls provide latest insights into the issues on the table on Wednesday.

Today the island of Cyprus remains divided in two, with Turkish Cypriots to the north of the ‘Green Line,’ and Greek Cypriots to the south. The dividing line is a buffer zone, patrolled by United Nations troops and is impassable except for a few designated crossing points.

The defacto division of the island in 1974 continues to be the subject of intense debate on and off the island. The Cyprus issue has been addressed over the past four decades by dozens of UN Security Council resolutions and countless conflict‐resolution efforts that, so far, have not been able to resolve the problem.

The situation in Cyprus, often termed as a ‘frozen conflict’, is now a major issue blocking Turkey’s membership in the European Union (EU). With Turkey’s elections coming up, pressure to find a solution is likely to come from all sides.

Political leaders from both sides recognize that a resolution could be advantageous, and so have restarted constructive negotiations.

The high level talks in Geneva on Wednesday 26th January are a key milestone in moving the peace process forward. Both leaderships have been working hard on bridging proposals where there is limited convergence. Issues of governance and power‐sharing, the economy, relations with the European Union, and property are the areas currently being examined.

In partnership with the United Nations, Interpeace started the project ‘Cyprus 2015’ in 2009. “‘Cyprus 2015’ is taking an active role in finding solutions for the Cyprus conflict with a focus on research and dialogue for sustainable peace,” explained Turkish Cypriot Co‐Director of the initiative, Ahmet Sözen. He added: “Critical to generating an agreement and support for a future settlement on all areas, is ensuring awareness and full ownership of the solution by the two communities throughout the whole island.”

Greek Cypriot Co‐Director, Spyros Christou added: “The work of ‘Cyprus 2015’ includes using island‐ wide public opinion polling for peace. The results from these surveys are used to inform the leaderships on both sides of the ‘Green Line’ to get a better sense of what people’s attitudes are towards the peace negotiations. The results are also fed back to both communities so they are aware of opinions across the island and the nature of the options available for a resolution.”

The latest poll shows that:

  • Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots have high desire for a settlement (68% GC, 65% TC)
  • Both sides are prepared to accept federation as a compromise settlement (79% GC, 76% TC)
  • The existing Cypriot‐owned process attracts significant support from both communities (83% GC, 60% TC)
  • A mechanism of public information on the peace process is also highly desired (88% GC, 77% TC).
  • However, challenges remain in terms of high lack of trust towards the other side (84% GC, 70% TC) and concern about dominance by the other side (87% GC, 59% TC).

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Media Contact
Lisa Ross‐Magenty Blaettler
Head of Communications
Email: ross‐magenty@interpeace.org
Direct line: +41 22 917 8338

For more on the opinion polls
Latest opinion polls by United Nations/Interpeace initiative ‘Cyprus 2015’

  • Summary of the results from the latest poll. More
  • Full survey results from latest poll. English | Greek | Turkish

Results of previous opinion polls by United Nations/Interpeace initiative ‘Cyprus 2015’

  • Full findings of the first island-wide public opinion poll by ‘Cyprus 2015’.
    English | Greek | Turkish

Available for comment are the two Co‐Directors of ‘Cyprus 2015’

Spyros Christou
Spyros Christou is the Greek‐Cypriot Co‐Director of the joint United Nations/Interpeace ‘Cyprus 2015’ initiative since 2008. A London School of Economics trained sociologist, he previously worked as research executive for Nielsen, a market research multinational company, performing customized research in the region of North Africa, Central Eastern Europe and Middle East.

Christou brings a rigorous approach to market research combined with an in depth knowledge of the complex socio political dynamics across Cyprus.

Ahmet Sözen
Ahmet Sözen is the Turkish Cypriot Co‐Director of the joint United Nations/Interpeace ‘Cyprus 2015’ initiative. Sözen had been a member of the official Turkish Cypriot negotiation team in the peace talks.

Since 2004, Sözen has been a faculty member of the Department of International Relations at the Eastern Mediterranean University (North Cyprus) where he is also the Director of the Cyprus Policy Center, a political think tank, based at the University. Sözen’s areas of research include Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy Analysis and Theories of International Relations. He is a member of International Studies Association (ISA). Sözen has a BA from Boğaziçi University (İstanbul), and an MA in International Relations from Syracuse University (USA). He was awarded a PhD in Political Science – International Relations at the University of Missouri (USA) in 1999. Previously he taught at the University of Missouri, Middle East Technical University (Ankara) and the University of Bahçeşehir (Istanbul).

About Interpeace

Created in 1994, Interpeace is an international peacebuilding organisation, with headquarters in Geneva, that plays a discrete role in helping societies torn apart by violent conflict and civil war to build lasting peace. Interpeace operates as an independent non‐governmental organisation and in partnership with the United Nations on specific programmes. The organisation works with 300 peacebuilders and works across Africa, Asia, Central America, Europe and the Middle East.

  • Africa: Burundi, Rwanda, Guinea‐Bissau, Somali Region, Liberia
  • Asia: Timor‐Leste
  • Central America: El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras
  • Europe: Cyprus
  • Middle East: Israel, Palestine

Interpeace also has an additional thematic programme on constitution building.


About Cyprus 2015: Research and Dialogue for a Sustainable Future

The purpose of the ‘Cyprus 2015: Research and Dialogue for a Sustainable Future’ initiative is to contribute towards a creative and constructive social debate for the long‐term sustainable future of Cyprus. By conducting research for action and creating opportunities of social dialogue between relevant stakeholders from both communities at both intra‐communal and inter‐communal levels, the initiative investigates future perspectives for Cyprus. ‘Cyprus 2015’ explores the opinions, views and thoughts of the public, in both Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, and develops them into policy proposals.

Within the context of the Cyprus 2015 initiative an island‐wide survey, titled ‘Next Steps in the Peace Process’, was conducted in September 2010 with a sample of 800 Greek Cypriots and 800 Turkish Cypriots, who were interviewed at their homes and in their native languages. The survey examines in depth the hopes and fears of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots vis‐à‐vis the prospect of a Comprehensive Settlement, explores preferences regarding the overall settlement framework, and assesses views in relation to procedural dimensions of the peace process itself.

The findings of the survey contribute towards the development of a road map for the constructive engagement and participation of the wider public in the peace process, in a way that will enhance the sense of societal ownership – and by extension the long term viability – of any future political settlement.

The ‘Cyprus 2015’ initiative, which commenced in May 2009, is being implemented by the Joint Programme Unit for United Nations / Interpeace Initiatives (JPU). ‘Cyprus 2015’ is being supported by the UNDP‐Action for Cooperation and Trust (ACT) programme in Cyprus and the European Commission Representation in Cyprus.