Contact between the two communities over the years has dispelled many prejudices and political narratives and Turkish Cypriots view Greek Cypriots in a more positive light but they still don’t want mixed cohabitation, the results of three University of Cyprus surveys since 2007 have shown.
According to University of Cyprus associate professor Charis Psaltis, the surveys, conducted in 2007, 2010 and 2017, put the same questions to Turkish Cypriot respondents in Turkish.
To the question “I don’t trust Greek Cypriot politicians to implement an agreed solution,” the percentage dropped in 10 years from 73 per cent in 2007 to 52 per cent in 2017.
In 2007, 88 per cent of Turkish Cypriots believed that the two communities had very different values, a percentage that has since dropped to 56 per cent, Psaltis told the Cyprus News Agency.
Another belief that has since lost ground was that life would get harder for Turkish Cypriots if Greek Cypriots gained more power, which dropped to 58 per cent in 2017 from 90 per cent 10 years before.
Reflecting on the findings, Psaltis said that while Turkish Cypriots were positive towards a federal solution the majority didn’t like the idea of cohabitation.
Only 12 per cent said they could live together in 2007 as opposed to 22 per cent last year.
Some 32 per cent said they wouldn’t mind having a Greek Cypriot as a neighbour, with that number edging up to 36 per cent.
“But these are minority percentages and we can deduce that in the minds of Turkish Cypriots there is a hard bizonality,” Psaltis said.
A bizonal solution was viewed as satisfactory by 64 per cent in 2017 versus 25 per cent in 2010.
The number of Turkish Cypriots rejecting such a settlement dropped to 14 per cent compared with 21 per cent seven years ago.
The 2017 figures were gathered after the latest round of talks collapsed in July last year.
However, the number of Turkish Cypriots who view a two-state solution as satisfactory has doubled since 2010, according to Psaltis.
In 2007, 25 per cent rejected it, 44 per cent accepted it as a solution of last resort and 31 per cent said it was satisfactory.
After the collapse, a two-state solution was rejected by 13 per cent, while 61 per cent consider it a satisfactory deal.
Psaltis said the figures showed that Turkish Cypriots were ready for a solution depending on what Greek Cypriots wanted – two-state or federal.
The surveys also showed that contact between the two communities has contributed significantly in dispelling past prejudices nurtured by two separate societies, political, and education systems.
Turkish Cypriots had the opportunity to contact Greek Cypriots and they have deconstructed the narrative of the nationalist policy represented by former Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, he said.
In 2007, 67 per cent of Turkish Cypriots agreed with the statement “I can’t trust Greek Cypriots because they want revenge for things our community did in the past” as opposed to 28 per cent in 2017.
One in three Turkish Cypriots said that they have since made at least one Greek Cypriot friend while half said they have frequent contact.