Conversations with Cypriots or about Cyprus usually turn to ‘the Cyprus problem’ before long. This term refers to the longstanding division of the island: triggered by a decade of violence and foreign interventions in 1963-1974, the United Nations-enforced Green Line separates the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot populations. Between 1974 and 2003 Greek and Turkish Cypriots (‘TC’ and ‘GC’, respectively) could not meet or communicate with each other. The societies were steeped in polarised thinking and grievances. Under these circumstances, some Cypriot civil society organisations (CSOs) managed to maintain links to the other sides and work towards
reconciliation. In 2006-2008 INTRAC, the TC Management Centre and GC NGO Support Centre ran a civil society strengthening programme on Cyprus, dealing indirectly with CSOs as supporters of the social basis for democracy and an open society – whether focusing on their own communities or bi-communal work.
This paper discusses the experiences of Cypriot CSOs as agents of reconciliation, comparing Cyprus to other contexts and to current thinking about CSOs in peacebuilding. It is aimed at civil society actors who are interested in supporting civil society in reconciliation, in Cyprus or elsewhere.
Briefing Paper 21 - Cyprus civil society in reconciliation