An international conference on peace education kicked off in Nicosia on Monday with an address by International Institute on Peace Education (IIPE) managing director on its importance around the world.
The Association for Historical Dialogue and Research (AHDR) is hosting the 43rd IIPE Conference, entitled Educating for a Culture of Peace in Divided Societies, History, Dialogue and Multiperspectivity Toward Reconciliation at the Home for Cooperation.
The delegates were welcomed by the Managing Director of the IIPE Tony Jenkins, who spoke about the importance of peace education around the world, while German Ambassador Franz Josef Kremp gave a speech, in which he stated that the situation in Germany was different than the one in Cyprus.
He said that in Germany there was a “genuine will on both sides, a very strong will to unify”, and added that in Cyprus there are two communities, “a Turkish and a Greek community with very different backgrounds and very different history”.
“We have for 55 years a UN peace mission on this island because there were intercommunal clashes that started in 1963, 1964”, he said, adding that if you want to learn something about peace then you should learn from the experience of Germany with its neighbours, particularly with France, with whom they were archenemies in the past. He pointed out that it required a lot of political will as well as efforts from the population to overcome this feeling of archenemy.
He said that the organised societies of Germany and France came together and also referred to the history books saying that they set up a binational committee to work on them, which is one of the most sensitive issues on how to deal with the past.
The Ambassador said that one of the most important things is to dedemonise and de-stereotype the other side and referred to the OSCE glossary for journalists and the reactions that this caused in Cyprus. He said that it was a very honest product but it was strongly politicised on the island.
Ozgw Ozogul on behalf of the Association for Historical Dialogue and Research said that 15 years ago the Association was established by teachers, academics and educators from across the divide as a nongovernmental and non for profit organisation with a mission to contribute to the advancement of historical understanding among the public.
Loizos Loukaides, also from AHDR spoke about their Imagine project, which travels to all areas in Cyprus and trains students in peace education, bringing them together and engaging them in teambuilding activities. The project managed to bring together almost 3,700 students from both communities in the last two years.