PRIO’s involvement in the Eastern Mediterranean started in 1997. Since its inception PRIO has been committed to facilitating dialogue between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. Initially a group of businessmen from both sides had the main initiative in this dialogue, in the form of regular meetings. Similar initatives have later been joined by representatives of the political and civil society on the island with the establishment of the Dialogue Forum and the Cyprus Contact Group. Another initiative, the Greek-Turkish Forum (GTF) has been meeting since 1998. This consists of prominent citizens from Greece and Turkey who meet on a regular basis to discuss key political issues in the Turkish-Greek context, and transform good ideas into government policies and joint projects.
Since 1999 PRIO has had an office in the UN administered Ledra Palace Hotel, which is situated on the Green Line in Nicosia, Cyprus. The office has continued to organise and facilitate dialogue between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. In late 2002, a team of two Turkish Cypriots and two Greek Cypriots initiated a ‘Public Information Project’ with the aim of providing easily understandable, objective and accurate information on the UN proposal for a settlement in order to enable the citizens take an informed decision. The output of the project included leaflets, booklets, a web-page, newspaper articles, public meetings and expert appearances in the media. In the run-up to the twin referendums on the UN plan in late April 2004, the project was at its most intense. The substantial request for information from both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots highlighted the need for non-partisan information on both sides of the divided island. PRIO took no position on the Annan Plan. Since the referendum we have continued to provide information on aspects of the Plan, on other aspects concerning the Cyprus issue, and on the position of Cyprus vis-à-vis - and in - the European Union. The PRIO Cyprus Centre was officially opened in 2005 and reflects a strenghtening of our activities as well as the inaguration of our new premises in Nicosia.
The research, information and dialogue projects at the PRIO Cyprus Centre are conducted with funding from many sources. Some are short-term, others will last for several years. All have the purpose of enhancing cooperation and opening venues to informed public debate.
The PRIO Cyprus Centre is headed by Harry Tzimitras.