Cyprus - Tired of Talking?
Civil Society to Bring Life to a Stagnant Process
At the conclusion of a three-day visit to London, the call by a network of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot civil society organisations (CSOs) for a more inclusive peace process has found a receptive audience, and created links which offer a promise for wider engagement in the future.
During a three-day visit to the UK capital, the group met with the UK Europe Minister David Lidington MP, as well as Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Simon Hughes MP, co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Conflict Issues (APPGCI). The group made clear the need for the UK to increase its commitment to a resolution of long-running disputes over Cyprus. Welcoming the initiative taken by the delegation, Simon Hughes said today: “This proposal is a breath of fresh air to the Cyprus peace process, and comes at a time when the UK is also wondering what to do next” he said. “I believe that these ideas offer a real possibility to generate momentum at a time when the parties fear deadlock, and I am committed to supporting this initiative in my meetings with the parties involved in coming months."
Speaking to a packed audience of parliamentarians, academics, and NGO representatives in a meeting organised by the APPGCI at the House of Commons, the group discussed the need to reconsider the meaning of Cypriot-owned, Cypriot-led peace process, and also faced tough questions about the ‘Cyprus blame game’. “The question is: what are we doing about our part of the responsibility?”, asked Alexandros Lordos from Cyprus 2015. “Think about your daily lives. Can you solve anything when you are focusing on someone else’s responsibility instead of your own?”, he added.
At the Commons meeting, there was a frank admission by Jeffrey Donaldson MP, who offered his own support to the initiative. “I initially resented the interest and involvement of civil society”, he said referring to the peace process in Northern Ireland. “But I soon came to realise as a politician that we needed civil society to change the mindsets that is such an important aspect of divided societies.”
The group also sent a message to the Cypriot diaspora during an open discussion at the London School of Economics organised in collaboration with ENGI, a conflict management organisation supporting collaborative projects in Cyprus. “We welcome any interest from the Cypriot communities in London to become more involved in our activities”, said Rana Celal from the Gender Advisory Team. “With the support of the APPGCI and ENGI there are important links to be made and wider interest generated in this initiative”, added Celal. “The feedback received following the meetings was very encouraging. The next step now is to take this forward by passing the message on to a wider audience in the UK and in Cyprus and maintain the momentum”, said Yeshim Harris, Director of Engi.