CIPCR International has been involved in a programme of work with political and civil leaders on the island. This was in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme, USAID, and our partner body Engi and focused on engagement efforts to map-out a more comprehensive package of peace-building support and consultation.
The key protagonists involved in the peace process in Cyprus, namely Greek-Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, and the governments in Athens and Ankara; have not, as yet, arrived at a negotiated settlement. The conflict is now over forty-years old. It has been described as:
“…not simply a conflict of substantive issues, such as territory, refugees, etc… But mostly a conflict of mistrust, fear and suspicion, rooted in historical hostilities.”
This statement can almost be entirely used to describe the Northern Ireland Conflict. Consequently, Causeway working in partnership with Engi over the last 12 months, has been seeking to help Greek and Turkish Cypriot poltical leaders and representatives from civil society organisations on the island to discover what can be gained from examining the experiences of the Northern Ireland Peace Process.
The Causeway Initiative Chairman, Rt Hon Jeffrey Donaldson MP, has held a number of meetings with senior politicians from across Cyprus and been engaged directly in dialogue over the last three years. He was accompanied on his visit by the Director of Engi, who has been facilitating conflict management initiatives in the region. The Chairman has met with a series of notable figures; including Andros Kyprianou, Leader of the Progressive Party of Working People (Anorthotikó Kómma Ergazómenou Laoú – AKEL); leaders of The Turkish Republican Party (Cumhuriyetçi Türk Partisi – CTP); and representatives from the bi-communal Home for Cooperation in the UN Buffer Zone in Nicosia.
This initiative has been extremely well received, with the feedback being overwhelmingly positive. Those attending the seminars and related events spoke highly of the power of hearing about the Northern Ireland peace process directly from members of the actual negotiation teams from both sides of the political divide; not least because of their openness and honesty in describing their personal feelings, and what moving towards an understanding of the other parties’ positions had meant for them.
One of the fundamental pillars of the Causeway Initiative’s approach to peace-building is the belief in the principle of a consensual and inclusive negotiating process. It is clear to us that this has not occurred to the required degree during the Cyprus peace negotiations. An exclusive negotiating process perpetuates an absence of any mass public faith or legitimacy in the process itself.
CIPCR International will continue engaging with our partners in Cyprus in 2015.