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CPDC Launches New Initiative for Cyprus Peace Process

The Cyprus Peace and Dialogue Centre (CPDC) is excited to announce the launch of a new initiative aimed at updating the Cyprus peace process. On May 28th, CPDC hosted a brainstorming workshop titled “Civic Initiative for an Updated Cyprus Peace Process Design (C-Up)” at Ledra Palace, supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Communities Organisation (ICO).


The key message of the workshop was the importance of engaging voters in addressing the complex questions surrounding the Cyprus problem to break the current deadlock and encourage political leaders to return to the negotiating table. This initiative seeks to implement a “deliberative democracy” approach, which involves citizens in the decision-making process to ensure any solution has broad public support and long-term sustainability.


“In Cyprus, we have no mechanism for helping leaders make very difficult decisions,” said CPDC founder Meltem Onurkan-Samani. “We send them, more or less alone, into a room and expect them to come to a difficult decision. A deliberative democracy process is a way of sharing that burden with them. If ordinary citizens have been allowed the time and space to think about these difficult issues and have come up with answers, it makes it much easier for the leaders to come to an agreement.”


Keynote speaker Erato Kazakou-Marcoullis emphasised the urgency of solving the Cyprus problem. “We do not have time in front of us. We are on the brink of partition and if we delay our actions for months and years, the situation on the ground will be irreversible,” she urged.


The workshop featured contributions from numerous experts, including Kemal Baykallı, Bülent Kanol, Liana Liu Ioannides, Sophia Papastavrou, Petros Aristodemou, Magda Zenon, Ayşe Bıyıkoğlu Türkmen, İpek Borman, Charis Psaltis, Berk Tansel, James Ker-Lindsay, Neophytos Loizides, and Mine Yücel. They discussed various topics such as the types of assemblies, ensuring inclusivity, engaging political leaders without interference, and the logistics of referendums.


Panelists explored several options for assemblies, including citizens’ assemblies like those in the Republic of Ireland, elected assemblies similar to Northern Ireland's model, and constitutional assemblies as seen in South Africa. They debated whether a phased approach, starting with small, citizen-only assemblies and progressing to larger, elected assemblies, would be most suitable for Cyprus. The idea is to start with "safe spaces" and gradually scale up.


Participants learned that successive opinion polls indicate only 20% of voters completely reject the concept of a bizonal bicommunal federation, suggesting that engaging citizens might be a viable way to overcome the current stalemate.


“This was the first step in our intercommunal brainstorming exercise. Our aim for the next steps is to develop the ideas, test them with representative focus groups, and further refine them with political stakeholders,” said Onurkan-Samani.


The workshop was met with a positive response and high levels of participation, underscoring the importance of inclusive assemblies and public support in creating sustainable solutions. CPDC is grateful to all attendees and contributors and looks forward to the next steps in this crucial initiative.


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