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Hopes and fears in Cyprus

June 24, 2011
Est. Reading: 6 minutes
George Iacovou and Kudret Ozersay. Photo credit: cips-vidaluz for Interpeace


Geneva, 24 June 2011

‘Towards a Federal Settlement: Hopes and Fears’ will be the subject of the second of two public events for Cypriots from across the island to be held in the Buffer Zone on the 27th June 2011 and co-organized by the Interpeace initiative, ‘Cyprus 2015’ and ‘Engage-do your part for peace.’

Towards a Federal Settlement: Hopes and Fears
Event date: 27th June 2011
Time: 18.00
Venue: Home for Cooperation (Opposite the Ledra Palace Hotel), The Buffer Zone, Nicosia.

Giorgos Iacovou, representative of the Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias and Kudret Ozersay, representative of the Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Ergolu, will participate in Monday's public event. Both are representatives of their respective leaders in the formal Cyprus peace negotiations.

The evening will be focused on the presentation and discussion of the latest ‘Cyprus 2015’ report ‘Solving the Cyprus Problem: Hopes and Fears’.

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, controlled by the United Nations.

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. Despite past difficulties, there is cause for optimism. Previous research by the Interpeace initiative ‘Cyprus 2015’ showed that the majority of Cypriots – both Greek and Turkish – favour a settlement, and there is broad agreement on the shape of a future unified, federal Cypriot state:

  • Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots have a 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); 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).

This latest 'Hopes and Fears" report, accompanied by a film, is the culmination of two years of research and dialogue that has taken place across the island involving Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.

Findings from public opinion polls, focus groups, individual interviews and stakeholder panels, both mono-and inter-communal, have been integrated in this new report which covers the issues of governance and power sharing, economics, social dynamics, security and property. Findings highlight:

  • On governance - both communities tend to be positive to the prospect that after so many years of division and enmity, an environment of partnership and cooperation would be created by a Comprehensive Settlement. On the other hand, both communities express the fear that power sharing will prove very difficult in practice and serious challenges in implementing the agreement would arise.
  • On property - both communities express deep concerns about the current status quo: Greek Cypriots, because they do not have access to their properties in the north; and Turkish Cypriots, because the disputed nature of the properties they are currently using in combination with their lack of access to their original properties in the south makes them feel like they own nothing. While for these reasons both communities have motives for change in the property regime, they diverge in the actual solutions they propose.
  • On security - the two communities are at odds regarding the future role of Turkey, with Turkish Cypriots strongly supporting and Greek Cypriots strongly opposing the continuation of Turkish guarantees. Having said that, neither community opposes a potential role for the European Union in ensuring the implementation of the agreement, and both support the notion that security threats should begin to be categorized so that the solution to each challenge can be found on its own merits.
  • On the economy - both communities express hope that a solution would, on the whole, increase levels of economic activity, investment and prosperity. At the same time, some economic fears are expressed though these differ in the two communities: Greek Cypriots fear that they will be asked to shoulder the financial burden of the solution’s implementation, while Turkish Cypriots fear that they would be dominated by an influx of Greek Cypriot capital.

The public event on the 27th June 2011 follows a successful meeting held on 20th June 2011: 'Towards
Sustainable Development in a Federal Cyprus: Challenges and Opportunities'.

The event included calls for participatory processes to deal with specific island-wide challenges and reinforced the findings of the latest recommendations of the’ Cyprus 2015’ report on Sustainable Development in Cyprus.

Speaker, Environmental Engineer, Sibel Paralik highlighted that the challenge of water scarcity must be addressed collectively with the participation of farmers, water authority officials, and water experts.

The challenges relating to the introduction of sustainable construction practices were featured in the talk by Architect Andreas Lordos who stressed the need for the participation of town planners, architects, engineers and building end users.

The report also includes proposals for large-scale development projects where the two communities can work together and jointly benefit.

The example of the concentrated solar power (CSP) plant was presented by the Energy Professional, Tamer Zaim. It would service the energy needs of both communities. An island-wide light rail network, presented by Transportation Specialist, Aristotelis Savva, would provide increased opportunities for intra-island trade and personal contact between the two communities.

Alexandros Lordos, 'Cyprus2015' Research Director, called for a Sustainable Development Master Plan for Cyprus that would be designed and agreed upon between the leaderships of the two communities, even before a Comprehensive Settlement, and then implemented in parallel by each community.

The inter-communal technical committees, that have been established in the context of the ongoing peace negotiations, could provide the collaborative framework to be used for designing such a Sustainable Development Master Plan. Alexandros Lordos concluded that such initiatives do have the potential to attract substantial European funding, but to achieve such support: “We as Cypriots, need to demonstrate that beyond our known problem we also share a vision for Cyprus; a vision for the future based on joint action on matters of sustainable development, which would lead to a superior outcome than if each community takes action separately”.

On the impact of these findings Ahmet Sözen, Turkish Cypriot Co-Director of the ‘Cyprus 2015’ initiative highlights: “What the Cyprus 2015 initiative has sought to achieve through this research process is to bring together multiple perspectives on the Cyprus Problem, in order to produce a definitive account of how different groups of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots stand in relation to the ongoing peace process.” Spyros Christou, Greek Cypriot Co-Director, adds “It is hoped that the findings of this report will contribute towards incorporating a broader societal dimension into the high level negotiations, currently taking place between the leaders of the two communities.”

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

Spyros Christou
Spyros Christou is the Greek-Cypriot Co-Director of the Interpeace initiative ‘Cyprus 2015’ 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 Interpeace initiative ‘Cyprus 2015’. 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), a MA in International Relations from Syracuse University (USA). He was awarded with PhD in Political Science – International Relations at University of Missouri (USA) in 1999. Previously he taught at University of Missouri, Middle East Technical University (Ankara) and University of Bahçeşehir (Istanbul).

About Interpeace
Created in 1994, Interpeace is an international peacebuilding organization, 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 organization and in partnership with the United Nations on specific programmes. The organization 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 making.


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.
‘Cyprus 2015’, an Interpeace 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.