Sifting through conversations, interpreting perspectives

Cypriots may be going online in greater numbers and apparently  have an insatiable thirst for acquiring new phones, yet images of old men bent over newspapers at the local coffeeshop, or market-goers exchanging gossip while picking out fresh produce or drivers drawing up to  friends’ cars to yell out a question or greeting, are still commonplace.

We like to be constantly in conversation – whatever our background or social station – taking advantage of every occasion to express our ideas (usually vociferously), as well as our preferences, our dislikes, our hopes and fears.

In particular, chewing over politics and the state of the Cyprus problem is little short of a national sport (with football and food following in hot pursuit).

The video above bears testimony to Peace it Together partner Cyprus 2015‘s endeavours to credit this endless exchange of perspectives with the attention it is due – in the context of reconciliation.

To research the outlook of a broad cross-section of stakeholders from the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities as to what reconciliation might mean.

Indeed, the think tank’s mission is, in its own words:

“to contribute towards a sustainable settlement of the Cyprus Problem through objective research and respectful dialogue between all relevant societal and political stakeholders, in a way that complements the peace efforts on the island”

This mission is carried out through a plethora of methods: via public opinion polls, focus groups, interviews with leading personalities, commissioned academic research, stakeholder panels – Participatory Action Research (PAR), video documentaries and policy proposals.

And it is aimed at engaging all three tracks of Cypriot society – the leadership, broad civil society and the general public – in the hope of going beyond bi-communal issues, to address issues of trust, understanding and the healing of internal rifts within each community.

For example, in its most recent opinion poll, the results of which were released this July, Cyprus 2015 found clashing perspectives, but also opportunities for convergence, over the Security, Territory and Citizenship dossiers of the peace talks, with the outcome of a future referendum remaining in the balance.

Most respondents did not wish to prejudge the outcome and are undecided on how they might vote in a future referendum. However, the negative political climate that predominates in this protracted process is leading to public discontent, which is reflected as a trend for undecided voters in the Greek Cypriot community to shift towards a ‘No’, while Turkish Cypriots are expressing increased ambivalence over what they would vote.

This highlights the urgent need for not only increased public information about the main issues, but more importantly, public dialogue and discussion as well.

Thus, without the research work of this Peace it Together partner, many of the subtler, yet important beliefs regarding a shared future might go unheard or unnoticed.

You can access more of Cyprus 2015’s publications and media here, and also subscribe to its YouTube channel here.

Rest assured as well that The Peace Exchange will also be updating you on the project’s new endeavours as they arise.

That’s all for this week, but there will be more good stuff on the way soon.

Till then, Peace Exchange wishes its readers a very pleasant holiday weekend. See you in the next post!

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