By George Psyllides and Andria Kades
THE majority of Greek Cypriots believe that the current climate could lead to an agreement and a referendum on the Cyprus problem, with a positive vote recording a slight, albeit symbolically important lead, according to the results of a new survey.
The survey, conducted on behalf of Team Cyprus (Omada Kypros), showed a change in climate mainly due to the change in the Turkish Cypriot leadership, with the majority considering the current juncture capable of leading to an agreement and a referendum.
“A clear majority stated its readiness to accept an honourable compromise as part of a federation with a strong central state,” Team Cyprus said.
According to the survey, 30 per cent of the sample of 1,012 people would vote ‘yes’ compared with 26 per cent who would vote ‘no’. The majority, 40 per cent, said it was undecided, with the chances of going either way being equal.
Despite being close, compared with past surveys, the results showed a drop in the ‘no’ trend – rejection in 2012 had reached 51 per cent.
“Essentially, people are reacting positively. They are expecting to see what the final proposal is and they will vote. Their stance seems to be that yes I support the efforts, yes I support the negotiations but I want to know what the final proposal is before I cast my vote,” Sotos Ktorides from Team Cyprus told the Sunday Mail.
Middle and older ages appeared more positive with Nicosia leading the way regarding geographical location. Paphos seemed to have the largest amount of no supporters, with 30 per cent followed by Nicosia at 17 per cent, which also had the highest number of people absolutely sure they would vote in favour of a solution at 24 per cent.
Assessing the demographics, Ktorides said the most positive groups of the population were those over 45 that lived in more urban areas such as the capital while younger people and those in the outskirts such as Paphos were more negative.
Women for some reason are perceived to be more cautious while men are more positive.
Asked why he believed older people were more positive, Ktorides said “people in those age groups have a more historical memory and can exercise more self criticism. They remember that both sides are to blame for what happened in Cyprus.”
“They always bear in mind the past and want to create a future of wellbeing and security.”
The great majority – 74 per cent — of those asked believe that current talks would lead to an agreement and a referendum. Sixty-nine per cent want the negotiations to lead to an agreement and a referendum and only 9.0 per cent opposed the prospect.
Conducted between July 29 and August 12, the poll showed a rise in optimism among Greek Cypriots – 52 per cent, compared with 47 per cent who remained pessimistic.
The majority agreed that “the time has come for an honourable compromise” and that “the real dilemma we will face if there are referenda soon would be federation or partition.”
Most support the current form of solution under discussion – bi-zonal, bi-communal federation – 38 per cent, against 28 per cent who oppose it. A significant section of the sample, 30 per cent, said they did not know.
Sixty-eight per cent reject a two-state solution and 60 per cent reject the current status quo.
A unified state gets the most votes – 43- per cent, followed by the federation, 34 per cent.
The majority also seems to accept that some categories of settlers have a right to remain on the island and most believe there should be freedom of settlement, and owning property without restrictions.
Thirty per cent do not want any kind of guarantor powers but 44 per cent said they could accept the European Union. Anything else got little support.
The poll showed that most – 37 per cent — want a system of governance where a ministerial council would make decisions by majority that will include representatives from both communities.
Thirty-three per cent find rotating presidency generally acceptable provided that the Greek Cypriot president would have a longer term. Twenty-one per cent reject this.
Team Cyprus was founded last month by 42 young professionals who said that they want to support the efforts of the two community leaders by making the peace process more comprehensible to the average citizen.
The group said that they do not have any political aspirations but aimed to use their expertise to better inform the public about the various aspects of what was being announced or what was being discussed in the negotiations when it came to complex issues such as property.
The survey was carried out by Noverna through face to face interviews.
According to Ktorides, they will soon be launching a crowdfund to help them support future actions that will help them send out their messages although he would not specify what they may be.
Team Cyprus came under pre-emptive fire by socialist EDEK, which has questioned its funding saying the source was suspect and would cloud the poll’s validity, linking it to past allegations during the 2004 Annan plan vote where ‘yes’ supporters were accused of receiving US funding.
“Everyone knows that a survey of this kind presupposes a substantial cost of several thousands of euros and it is worth asking how an organisation managed to secure this kind of funding within a month of operation,” EDEK said.
Ktorides said the costs were funded by its own members that had received receipts stressing the transparency of the group.