“Cypriots Voice”, a bi-communal forum working for the reunification of Cyprus, had a two-day conference during which, some 40 participants discussed the latest developments with regard to a solution perspective in Cyprus. The agenda included such issues as:
- Current political developments and the role of citizens;
- Consideration over the forthcoming elections in Turkey;
- Problems and perspectives of a Federal Settlement in Cyprus;
- The European Dimension –The involvement of EU;
- Social Cohesion and Reconciliation (SCORE) Index;
- Themes of real concern in the northern geography;
- Themes of real concern in the southern geography
- Conflicts and Uses of Cultural Heritage in Cyprus;
- Blind spots in the inter-communal conflict: Gender and Minorities;
- Old Nicosia in perspective
Following critical presentations of the above topics and a fruitful exchange of views, the Conference reached the following conclusions:
- The election of Mustafa Akıncı as leader of the Turkish Cypriot community constitutes a positive development in the direction of which is necessary to create e the proper climate in the Turkish Cypriot Community for the settlement
- The positive stance of the DISY and AKEL, which represent the vast majority of Greek Cypriots, along with similar positive reactions among considerable segments of DIKO and EDEK, give hopes for a majority current in favor of solution. A calm rational dialogue should be initiated and carried through so that basic solution parameters and federal ideas are internalized by the community at large.
- The determination of the leaders of the two communities, Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akıncı, to enter into intensive result oriented negotiations and the positive steps already made by them create a new solution perspective the dynamics of which cannot be missed.
- Apart from the intensification of the talks, the peace process should also focus on creating a solution culture at grassroots level so that basic tenets of a federal solution are amply comprehended by the citizens who will be called to endorse an agreement. It should be made clear, in this regard, that federalism does not intend to separate but to unite an already fragmented country and society. The notion of political equality, in particular, a basic tenet of all federal systems, should be made clear within the broader context of consociational principles vis-à-vis the traditional majoritarian one-citizen-one-vote concept. The European paradigm shift should be brought to light and be made relevant in this regard. Due consideration in this regards should be given in the negotiations to a separation between voting rights, whose aim is to maintain political equality in the federation, and the rights of residence, work, and family life (including economic, social and cultural rights) vis-à-vis a strict separation based on ethnic and/or religious identity.
- While security concerns of both communities should be adequately addressed, they should be reconsidered within a broader future oriented context of multilevel and multilateral security networks offered by European practices. One important dimension in relation to security issues is first to establish what the real threats are and then to consider ways to address them. The dimension of human security having to do with gender and other social groups or individuals should also be brought to light and addressed.
- As any rational approach of political reality leads to the conclusion that a peaceful solution reunifying Cyprus is in the interest of all parties involved including Turkey, a consistent effort should be made towards establishing working relations with Turkey within the context of a win-win approach which would promote the cause of a lasting settlement.
- Within such a framework, the two community leaders should proceed with new “low-profile” Confidence Building Measures which would positively affect the daily lives of the people.
- In relation to the EU connection, a viable solution should be compatible with basic EU principles, the four freedoms in particular. Any derogations from the acquis communautaire meant to safeguard against assimilation of numerically weaker, religious or cultural entities should not diverge from EU principles and, in any case, should not be permanent. Direct EU presence at the negotiating table would safeguard compatibility of solution with EU principles. Τhe social and cultural rights of minority groups and gender equality and mainstreaming should constitute part of any EU mandate for the negotiations.
- In order to safeguard that an agreement will be endorsed by the people and be sustainable, civil society organizations and citizen groups should be involved with the aim to
- help people become more receptive of cultural diversity,
- reduce social distance between the two communities,
- make the peace process more inclusive and participatory,
- adopt a citizen-centered approach to address all aspects of human security.
- In order to safeguard that gender sensitive issues are adequately addressed, gender sensitive persons should be given a role in the peace process both at the decision making level and at the level of spreading ideas within society at large.
Communiqué No 30 – Cypriots’ Voice 25/05/2015