Rebuilding Relationships in Cyprus

Ron Fisher

Professor of International Peace and Conflict Resolution, School of International Service, American University

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003

This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

Q: Where, then, would you would the contingency model suggest that we start dealing with the issues now as they stand in Cyprus?

A: It would probably suggest that even with formal negotiations starting on the basis of the plan there are still relationship issues, and difficulties being encountered bringing about a full sustainable peace. So one direction work needs to go now is in reconciliation. There has been very little reconciliation in Cyprus even with recently tens of thousands of people going back and forth across the Green Line, which was opened up; which is a wonderful thing. Those are kind of like harmonious visits for a day.

That's not quite the same as the two communities reintegrating and living together. There are still a lot of fears out of the past from the atrocities, lack of trust, and so on. There is a lot of relationship work to be done, complimentary to para-negotiation rather then pre-negotiation. We need to use a para-negotiation fashion to support the rebuilding of the relationship between the two peoples. Also they have been separate since 1974-75 so it is also a matter for a lot of younger people who have these myths, and in some cases stereotypes of the other sides. The relationship needs to be re-humanized. That can be done in small group dialogues and reconciliation work.

It also has to be done at the public level through the media, through events, and through public apologies. They are very well aware of that need of all kinds of things to be carried forward. The contingency would continue to say there are complimentary activities that support the negotiation process. You have to understand that is a simple initial model that really is geared to deescalating the conflict so that negotiations can eventually be successful. It doesn't really deal with rebuilding peace and the whole fabric of society, it wasn't intended to. Even though that obviously has to done.


In the beginning of your answer sounded like reconciliation is almost the end piece of the contingency model so that there are the softer aspects of conflict resolution both before the Track I negotiations and afterwards. You are saying now that reconciliation is really not accounted for in the contingency model that comes later it may not always be necessary but something that is contained in that.

A: No. Not essential when you talk about improving the relationship. In the contingency model you are talking about reconciliation as part of that, but at the higher level of escalation and stalemate, I don't think the contingency model did justice to starting the reconciliation at that point, to be able to move back to a relationship where the two parties can, communities basically, deal with their problem and live together.