Survey Shows Cypriot Communities Polarised, Alienated
The latest survey by Interpeace shows that 77 percent of Turkish Cypriots and 71 percent of Greek Cypriots believe that their rights as a community should be asserted in a political solution, even if it means that members of the other community will be negatively affected.
The survey paints a discouraging picture for peace talks, showing the extent of polarisation along ethnic lines and a deep mistrust towards the political leadership. Eighty-six percent of Greek Cypriots do not believe that the Turkish-Cypriot leadership is sincere in working towards a mutually acceptable solution, and 78 percent of Turkish Cypriots do not believe that the Greek-Cypriot leadership is sincere.
And over time, Greek Cypriots are trending towards a 'no' vote on a referendum, compared to a 'yes' vote in the Turkish-Cypriot community.
"The current state of play is leading to a negative political climate and public discontent," says Interpeace.
Ahmet Sözen, Turkish Cypriot Co-director of the Interpeace initiative ‘Cyprus 2015’ says that reunification negotiators need to reconsider how they engage with the public in order to avoid a rejection of a future solution.
Support for federal solution
Spyros Christou, Greek Cypriot Co-Director of the Interpeace initiative ‘Cyprus 2015’ says: “There is, however, an opportunity for convergence. Our latest polls show that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots remain open to a federal settlement. But their opinions clash when it comes to how the issues of security, territory and citizenship should be solved.”
Cyprus '2015' poll
The poll was conducted between 17th March and 14th April 2011 with a sample of 1,000 Greek Cypriots and 1,000 Turkish Cypriots using face-to-face interviews at the homes of respondents and in their native language.
Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots disagree over the potential continuation of Turkish guarantees, with Greek Cypriots strongly against, and Turkish Cypriots strongly in favour.
But there is possible agreement that a set of guidelines relating to island-wide security should be agreed in advance by all the sides. In this context, both communities agree that the European Union could play a role as one of the actors overseeing the implementation of an agreed security strategy.
Finally, both communities agree on who should be present if an international conference is held to discuss the security aspect of the Cyprus Problem; namely, the Turkish Cypriots, the Greek Cypriots / Republic of Cyprus, Turkey, Greece, the European Union and the United Nations. Both communities believe that the permanent members of the UN Security Council should not be separately present at such a conference.
The minimum territorial adjustment that Greek Cypriots appear willing to accept is for Famagusta and Morphou to be returned under Greek-Cypriot administration, with Karpasia becoming a federal area for the use of both communities. Turkish Cypriots, however, appear strongly opposed to any kind of territorial re-adjustment whatsoever: Even the minimum territorial re-adjustment of returning Famagusta to Greek Cypriots in the context of a settlement is opposed by a large majority of Turkish Cypriots.
There is possible agreement between the two communities on designating several federal areas, which will not belong to the Greek Cypriot or Turkish Cypriot constituent zone, but to the whole of Cyprus, while in these areas there would be no restriction of the right to establish a primary residence.
Greek Cypriots expect that most of those who came from Turkey after 1974, including their descendents, should return to Turkey after a settlement, with the only possible exception being people who have intermarried with Turkish Cypriots and their offspring.
Turkish Cypriots, in contrast, believe that people from Turkey who have already lived in Cyprus for many decades with their families should, after a settlement, be allowed to remain.
There is possible agreement on allowing Turkish settlers to stay after a settlement, but only with a residence and work permit, not as citizens with voting rights, says the survey.
On Confidence-building Measures
Packages to address issues related to direct trade, direct flights, Famagusta and universities tend to be rejected by one or the other community.
But there is possible agreement on the proposal to open Famagusta as an inter-communal area under UN and EU auspices, where Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots can live and work together.
Both communities have expressed agreement on several proposed confidence building measures, and especially to the restoration of religious, historical and cultural monuments that are of significance for each community.
Both communities also support putting an end to the negative daily statements of political leaders against the other community.
Both communities agree that there should be a reduction in bureaucratic formalities when crossing the checkpoints, according to the survey.
The full survey can be read here