By Maria Gregoriou
LEADING peace negotiators will visit Cyprus on June 18 to discuss the benefits and challenges of participatory peace processes with senior politicians, businesses and civic leaders in both communities.
The London-based organisation Engi Conflict Management is bringing Northern Irish MP Jeffrey Donaldson (pictured) and Roelf Meyer from South Africa, both of whom acted as chief negotiators in their respective countries. Ljuljjeta Goranci Brkic, Director of the Nansen Dialogue Center Sarajevo will also be joining the visiting team.
With only 9 per cent of Greek Cypriots and 16 per cent of Turkish Cypriots believing that policymakers hear their voices, Donaldson argues that it is time for a more inclusive peace process in Cyprus. This process will take into account the options and priorities of the general public.
Donaldson said he initially resented the interest or involvement of civil society but he “came to realise that we need civil society to help prepare the ground and change the mind-sets that are such an important part of any conflict divided society.”
Meyer wants to encourage support for a more transparent process. “Whilst you cannot profile conflict or offer template ‘solutions’, I’m hoping that the people on the island can benefit from a comparative learning approach” Meyer said.
I learned many lessons the hard way, at the negotiating table, Meyer added.
“Sharing these personal experiences could help the two communities to reflect on their own conflict, without having to abandon their viewpoint,” director and co-founder of Engi, Yeshim Harris said.
Brkic will bring up the subject of dialogue across ethnic and national divides. She hopes to encourage discussions of trust between the two communities.
“In most conflicts there is little understanding of each other’s hopes, thoughts and motivations,” said Harris.
Whatever the future brings in terms of settlement, one way or the other, the two communities will continue to share the island. Without true understanding of each other’s position, no solution would be sustainable, she added.
The visit is part of the Participatory Peacemaking initiative supported by UNDP-ACT.
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