UWE project helps Cyprus Reconciliation and Peace Economics

Issue date: 18 January 2010

European Union Flag A political scientist at the University of the West of England (UWE, Bristol) is to lead a project aimed at fostering reconciliation and economic development in Cyprus.

Dr Kate Flynn, Senior Lecturer in International Politics at UWE, has been awarded a European Union/EuropeAid grant of €212,997 (£190,122) for a twenty-one month project, starting in April 2010, entitled 'Reconciliation and Peace Economics in Cyprus'. The project is part of the EU's Cypriot Civil Society in Action II programme. The project team, led by Dr Flynn, includes UWE colleagues Professor Derek Braddon (Bristol Business School), Christian Dadomo (Bristol Law School) and Dr Tony King (Department of Politics).

The project aims to promote improved relations between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots through applied social research which will lead to a better understanding of the issues affecting trust and perceptions of mutual interests. Dr Flynn has previously worked on projects in South Africa, Northern Ireland and the former Soviet Union, where considerations of trust between communities and economic development have been key issues.

Dr Flynn explains: “The research team will carry out activities to explore the practical implications of reconciliation and peace economics in Cyprus through social science methods. For example we will carry out quantitative surveys, focus groups, in-depth interviews and stakeholders' symposia. At the end there will be a combined academic and practitioners' conference, as well as written dissemination of findings, in Cyprus. These activities will aim to contribute to and inform dialogue, as well as political and economic decision-making, and lead to a better understanding of issues affecting trust between the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities.

“During previous work in South Africa and Northern Ireland, I became acutely aware that the reconciliation of divided societies is not simply a matter of truth-telling and remembering painful pasts that, once enacted, completed the task. Rather I understand reconciliation as a long-term process depending on a dynamic combination of political and social factors. An effective reconciliation initiative in Cyprus needs public support and is only appropriate after consultation and research in Cyprus informed by lessons drawn, as relevant, from other divided societies.

“We will also focus on economic development, with the view that enhancing common economic interests will also encourage long-term peace and reconciliation. For example and especially since Cyprus joined the EU in 2004, there needs to be more extensive analysis of the various barriers to trade across the 'Green Line' that divides the island.

“Our project aims to engage community, political, business, educational, NGO, union and other occupational representatives. It is crucial that the target groups involved in the research and the main beneficiaries of the project are composed of both Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots. We hope that the research, dialogue and dissemination of findings at the heart of the project design will contribute to both public discussion and decision-making about reconciliation and peace economics in Cyprus.”

Dr Flynn, with the UWE team, developed the Cyprus project's methodology based on her experience leading another project, 'Post-Conflict Settlement, Heritage and Urban Regeneration in South Africa and Northern Ireland: The Redevelopment of the Old Fort and Long Kesh / Maze Prisons' (2007/8). This was funded by a Social Science Small Grant from the Nuffield Foundation with UWE colleague Dr Tony King as Research Assistant. Those findings provided the material for a half-hour documentary broadcast on 28 September 2009 throughout southern Africa by Radio Today, Johannesburg. (The programme can be accessed as a podcast from the Radio Today website: http://www.1485.org.za).These projects – on Cyprus, Northern Ireland and South Arica - complement UWE's new MA in Peace and Conflict Studies, started in 2009/10 and established by Dr Flynn. She will also be a discussant for the panel 'The Politics of Memory and Justice after Violence in Africa' at the 60th Political Studies Association Annual Conference in Edinburgh at the end of March 2010.

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