Peace Exchange welcomes another Guest Post today, this time from Giorgos Andriotis from the NGO Support Centre, who shares with us about ENGAGE’s successful Phase II launch this week.
“Tuesday’s launch ceremony of ENGAGE Phase II at the Home for Cooperation in Nicosia’s Buffer Zone proved to be a great opportunity for an encounter with people from all walks of life.
“Once again, ENGAGE offered a platform to the wider public, the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the track one folks (representatives from the official negotiations) to mingle and express their thoughts and expectations about the peace process on our beloved island.
“After all, ENGAGE’s events are all about people coming together, talking, exchanging views, creating vibrant networks and passing on their ideas to the political leaderships regarding their aspirations about Cyprus, and their strong will for peace and reconciliation.
“I have always felt that Cypriots rarely have a real chance to express their views, or to criticise or advocate for something which they strongly believe will bring positive change to their society.
“We are also led to believe every now and again that the reconciliation of our island is a matter to be managed and solved only by politicians for the people and not between the people living in the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities.
“Or that a division of four odd decades and the wounds and prejudices as a result of this, are expected to be healed overnight, without the wider public being actively engaged in the process.
“Having this in mind, Tuesday’s event revealed some positive messages.
“Not only did people from Civil Society and the wider public fill the conference room at the Home for Cooperation, but they also had the opportunity to watch messages – positive messages – from the representatives of the two leaders, as well as the UN, on how to channel their efforts towards the rapprochement of Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots and that their good initiatives and expertise can come to the forefront of activities towards reconciliation.
“Indeed, it can be said that this marked the first time the two leaderships gave jointly committed statements on actively including the local Civil Society in the peace process.
“Via a video presentation prepared by fellow Peace it Together partner CCMC, Messrs George Iacovou, Kudret Özersay and Ms Lisa Buttenheim underlined the importance of the role of Civil Society and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in informing the public about the challenges and opportunities for a comprehensive settlement.
“In other words, on Tuesday night, the efforts and success of the CSOs in bridging the gap between the two communities were finally recognised officially.
“‘The audiovisual messages were received with enthusiasm and hope by NGO practitioners such as myself,” said Soteris Themistocleous of CARDET, following the presentation, adding ‘especially during this period where pessimism characterises the whole negotiating process.
“‘I believe that this time, ENGAGE provides hopeful and inclusive initiatives, by increasing the activities and radius of its action outside Nicosia and by opening the door for more organised groups to participate in the reconciliation process. Thus, I feel that the project can be a true value in Civil Society and the wider public’.
“‘It’s good to see the positive steps that Civil Society is taking and the involvement of the representatives. Projects like ENGAGE prove how small efforts can bring about big changes,’ added university student Havva Ortaç.”
Peace Exchange thanks Giorgos for bringing us the highlights of ENGAGE’s Tuesday event, and looks forward to many more such posts on the range of peacebuilding efforts in the PiT network.
That’s all for this time, but we’ll be back again with more good stuff soon.