Cyprus is a beautiful, yet divided island. With social, economic, geo-political, religious and ethnic tensions rooted in its complex history and which remain unresolved to this day, many people in Cyprus feel the current situation is stuck. In the decades of efforts to address and solve the Cyprus problem and navigate the future of the island, many worthy endeavours have been made to initiate, support, or implement initiatives and solutions.
The Cyprus Transformative Scenarios Process (TSP) builds on the notable efforts in past decades. It is distinctive in many respects, chiefly the fact that it does not promote a specific solution, and it looks at the multiple concerns of Cypriots today including but also beyond the “Cyprus problem”. It is an effort by Cypriots from across society to explore and discuss their whole future together.
This initiative applies the Transformative Scenarios approach. For over 3 decades, this approach has helped citizens in many countries and regions around the world to rethink their future. It was born out of South Africa during the transition from apartheid in 1991-1992, and has subsequently been facilitated by Reos Partners in Colombia, Guatemala, Thailand, Mexico, Ethiopia, the Netherlands, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
The Cyprus Transformative Scenarios Process has in 2022 convened a committed team of Cypriot individuals from a wide diversity of perspectives across sectors, professions, generations, and political views who have gathered to develop a new set of future narratives for their island. They include Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, and Religious Minorities.
They are entrepreneurs, community builders, educators, artists, activists, business people, lawyers, doctors, and academics. The group is gender balanced and their ages range from 20’s to 60’s. They are not a group of “usual suspects”. While they are broadly representative of Cypriot society, each participant joins this process as an individual rather than as a representative of a specific institution or constituency, and each brings their full knowledge, perspective, and experience to the process.
This group met three times during May-September 2022 to jointly develop a set of four relevant, challenging, plausible, and clear scenarios for the future of Cyprus.
The Cyprus Futures scenarios are stories about what could happen in the future from 2022 to 2035. They don’t predict what will happen (forecasts), and they don’t outline what should happen (recommendations). There are many possible futures for Cyprus, but the Scenario Team chose to elaborate four imagined stories that they believe need to be told and understood about what could happen between now and 2035.
Each story, or scenario describes a separate “world” with distinct, and different realities (read more below). Together they are meant to feed into a wide and inclusive conversation in and around Cyprus about the opportunities and challenges facing the island. The Cyprus Futures initiative welcomes reflection and discussion on these and other possible futures.
The FULL REPORT can be read and downloaded here, in three languages:
The world of ‘No Way’ – A scenario of stagnation and inaction
In the world of ‘No way,’ hope for a better and more uplifting future comes and goes as new negotiations on the Cyprus problem begin and collapse once more. Disappointment and accusations further deepen the divisions between Cyprus’ two main communities. Repeated rounds of failed talks, competing solution models, and a lack of transformative leadership hinders progress and feeds stagnation. It also diverts resources for tackling other challenges affecting daily life. The Turkish Cypriot administration continues to be increasingly dependent on and influenced by Türkiye*, and the northern part of Cyprus functions as a low-regulated zone for Türkiye’s economy. For Greek Cypriots, the possibility of returning to land or property from which they were displaced in 1974 fades, and attention is mainly focused on security in the context of Türkiye’s increased presence and militarization of the island. Few believe in a renewed peace process, but no one is willing or able to completely give up on it either. As a result, everyone involved in and affected by the Cyprus problem is kept stuck in suspension as the existing separation solidifies.
The world of ‘My Way’ – A scenario of divergence and opposition
In the world of ‘My way,’ tensions on the island between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots intensify rapidly as any prospect of a peace process evaporates. The UN Secretary-General suspends his mission of good offices from Cyprus indefinitely due to a lack of common ground and willingness to move on the part of both parties. Growing multi-polarity and increasing challenge to Western dominance in global governance characterise this context. The Turkish Cypriot leadership pursues an active policy of international engagement and recognition of the north as an independent state. This alarms Greek Cypriots greatly and also generates considerable tension within the Turkish Cypriot community. Recognition of the north by a few countries brings out strong reactions, as Greek Cypriots and Greece put up fierce resistance both on the island and outside of it through various measures and their membership of the EU and the UN. The economy in the north and Turkish Cypriots’ mobility is affected, which highlights their continued isolation internationally. The impact of these measures is only partially reduced by foreign investment in the low-regulated north, the benefits of which are unevenly distributed. Regional tensions escalate as Greek Cypriots and Türkiye pursue hydrocarbon extraction without any agreement about overlapping claims in the sea.
The world of ‘Their Way’ – A scenario of peace under pressure
In the world of ‘Their way,’ the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders experience considerable pressure from the external environment and from business lobbies to settle the Cyprus problem. They engage in high-level negotiations supported by the United Nations, which resemble previous rounds in the peace process in being leader-focused with little transparency or participation from civil society and in applying the principle ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.’ Centering ‘hard’ political issues related to power-sharing, security, territory, and property, and increasingly relying on international experts for substantive advice, the talks charge ahead even though civil society actors raise concerns about the lack of public participation and the risks of not preparing communities for change. The public itself is not really engaged but is exposed to a smart communication campaign employing marketing techniques to influence public opinion. After ratification (approval) of the resulting peace plan, the federation is established with a high degree of decentralisation and little attention for creating effective federal institutions. Cracks soon start to emerge as economic integration proves challenging and the leaders have competing loyalties: to the federation and to their community whose support remains essential for remaining in office. Gradually, a split emerges between effective protective action at the constituent state level (directed against the other community) and indefinite debates at federal level. This reduces the legitimacy of and public faith in the federation and means people’s loyalties are mainly directed to constituent states. It results in a set-up that deepens mistrust and divisions between the two communities and that cannot cope well with stress.
The world of ‘Our Way’ – A scenario of resilient peace
In the world of ‘Our way,’ an increasing number of Cypriots realise that other pressing challenges (current and future) are not effectively dealt with due to the ongoing focus on the Cyprus problem. Collaborative efforts remain limited in the face of ongoing division and political stalemate. Initial consultations by the UN with a broad range of stakeholders result in the leaders agreeing on a new approach to the peace process. With a focus on achieving ‘resilient peace,’ this approach involves a multi-track, participatory process which combines high-level talks between leaders with working groups, technical committees, and broad civil society engagement. It is driven from within and with support from UN and other international stakeholders. This unleashes much activity by different actors at various levels in society, but many Cypriots still have misgivings about the negotiations and possible changes, and some try to undermine the peace process. After ratification (approval) through separate referendums and careful technical preparation, the new federation emerges. Much attention is devoted to developing effective and legitimate public institutions at federal and constituent state level, with mechanisms for constructive dispute resolution and coordination, and including participatory governance, human rights, and social cohesion. This results in a federation that is resilient and inclusive, and a Cypriot citizenry that is proud of its plurality of cultures and peoples and its European identity.
Reos Partners is an international social enterprise specialised in multi-stakeholder dialogue and collaboration in situations of complexity, uncertainty, and conflict. Reos Partners applies a systemic, collaborative, and creative approach to design, facilitate, and guide processes that enable teams of stakeholders to make progress on their toughest challenges. Reos engages with governments, business, and civil society organizations on challenges such as justice, peace, health, education, conservation, food, and climate. The Reos Partners team operates both globally and locally, with offices in Cambridge (Massachusetts), Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Melbourne, Montréal, and São Paulo. The name Reos means “flow” reflecting an aim to create movement in situations of stuckness.
Result Mediation Foundation
Result Mediation Foundation (RMF) designs and manages conflict resolution processes and ensures the integrity thereof. RMF aligns with all key stakeholders in the process and sees to it that they are are well informed, trained and sufficiently up to speed for each to play their (critical) role. Building on the expertise developed by Result Mediation, the Netherlands leading mediation company, RMF brings together the rigor of private-sector mediation techniques with tested expertise in international conflict resolution. We are a non-profit organization that supports conflict resolution around the world by providing excellence in mediation services to state actors, (inter)national NGO’s and other stakeholders involved in international cooperation, active in fragile states and conflict affected settings.
PRIO Cyprus Centre
Since its inception in 2005, the PRIO Cyprus Centre (PCC) has functioned as an independent, bi-communal research centre. The Centre is committed to research and dialogue. Its aim is to contribute to an informed public debate on key issues relevant to an eventual settlement of the Cyprus problem. Its ambition is to achieve this through the establishment and dissemination of information and by offering new analysis, and through facilitating dialogue. The researchers attached to the Centre are both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots as well as individuals of other nationalities. The inter-linkage between research, informing public debate, and political decision-making is at the core of the Centre’s activities; its research should always be of public interest and be disseminated in understandable language, alongside academic publications. Most of the research output is presented in the English, Greek and Turkish languages. Through its network, projects and dialogue forums, the PRIO Cyprus Centre aims to foster cooperation between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, and strengthen regional cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean at large. The PRIO Cyprus Centre offers an important meeting place for people from both sides of the divided island.
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