İstanbul Kültür University

Searching for New Conflict Resolution Strategies: Study Visit to Turkey and Cyprus

Fifteen experts from Moldova, Turkey, Greece, and USA visited Cyprus between June 21st and 23rd, 2012 in order to learn about conflict resolution strategies and confidence building measures, which have been applied as part of reunification efforts within the scope of track one and track two diplomacy in Cyprus.

On the first day of the study visit, two representatives from the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities, who were an integral part of the project team, joined the group in Nicosia. The participants had a chance to talk with local political leaders, academics, and civil society activists, who have been involved in the bi-communal negotiations in Cyprus and gain first-hand knowledge about various issues related to the Cyprus question.

GPoT Center arranged individual meetings with Mr. Nicos Anastasiou, member of the Cyprus Academic Dialogue; Mr. Armağan Candan, member of Council and Foreign Relations Committee of the Republican Turkish Party; Mr. Serdar Denktaş, head of the Democratic Party; and Mrs. Müge Denktaş; Mr. Erol Kaymak, professor of international relations at Eastern Mediterranean University; Mrs. Praxoula Antoniadou Kyriacou, President of the United Democrats; Mr. Kudret Özersay, founder and leader of the “Toparlanıyoruz” movement; and Mr. Mehmet Ali Talat, the 2nd President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

In addition to these meetings, GPoT Center, together with Foreign Policy Association and East East Beyond Borders Program of the Soros Foundation in Moldova, organized a roundtable discussion on the premises of the Goethe Institute in the Buffer Zone in Nicosia. The one-day activity took place with the participation of five Greek Cypriot and five Turkish Cypriot external invitees, who represented civil society, academia, political elite, and media. During the roundtable sessions, topics such as the following were discussed: settlements proposals of the Cyprus and Transnistrian conflicts; role of international actors in peace negotiations; perceptions held by sides in the respective conflicts; confidence building measures; and obstacles to comprehensive solution of the Cyprus and Transnistrian conflicts.

The speech delivered by Katie Clerides, the President of the Institute for Eurodemocracy Glafcos Clerides, during the 3rd session, which focused on confidence building measures in the Cyprus case, is available here.

On the next day, the group held a brainstorming session in the Buffer Zone and discussed the content and methodology of the joint policy oriented publication comparing the Cyprus and Transnistrian cases. The publication to be drafted by the team of international experts is scheduled for release in Spring 2013.

To get a deeper understanding of the Cyprus question, the group also visited the fenced off city of Varosha/Maraş; Famagusta/Gazimağusa; Kyrenia/Girne and Bellapais.

The study visit to Cyprus was a follow up of a roundtable, which was held by GPoT Center and its partners on the premises of Istanbul Kültür University in Turkey on June 20th, 2012. The meeting provided the participants with general historical background on the Cyprus problem before their visit to the island. A special guest of the roundtable was Ms. Sabine Freizer, Director of the Europe Program at the International Crisis Group - Istanbul, who delivered a presentation on EU's policy towards Europe's non-recognized entities.

The study visit to Turkey and Cyprus was part of the "Searching for New Conflict Resolution Strategies: Lessons from the Case of Cyprus" project, which is supported by a grant from the Open Society Foundations and developed by GPoT Center in collaboration with the Foreign Policy Association and the East East Beyond Borders Program of the Soros Foundation in Moldova.

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