For over fifty years, the international community, led by the United Nations, hasattempted to find a settlement to the so-called Cyprus Problem. Following the collapse of the latest talks in 2017, there is real concern that the island is now drifting towards a permanent and irrevocable division as the communities become ever more estranged. To this end, urgent steps are needed to try to forge greater contacts between Greek and Turkish Cypriots. However, many initiatives are being held back over fears of recognition. This report argues that such concerns, while understandable, are threatening to make reunification impossible. Building on a growing understanding in academic and policy circles that the concept of ‘engagement without recognition’ is a valuable tool of conflict management in secessionist disputes, the report outlines a number of tangible steps that can be taken to promote a ‘culture of engagement’ between the island’s communities. These range from making the political case for greater communal interaction and offering official funding such activities through to implementing already agreed initiatives and addressing the legacy of the past. While such steps should be locally driven, the international community has a crucial part to play. In future, the leaders of the two communities should not merely be judged on their willingness to engage in settlement negotiations. They should also be judged on their willingness to create the wider conditions for reunification and future cohabitation.
Ker-Lindsay, James (2019) The Cyprus Problem in an Era of Uncertainty: Establishing a Culture of Engagement. PRIO Cyprus Centre Report: 5. Cyprus: PRIO.