Greek Cypriots not hopeful for reunification of divided island, survey shows
by Merve Aydoğan
ISTANBULJan 07, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Merve Aydoğan
Jan 07, 2016 12:00 am
As negotiations between Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı and Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades to reunify Cyprus continue, a public survey conducted on Dec 29-30 throughout the island by the University of Nicosia and IMR revealed that 65 percent of Greek Cypriots do not believe there will be a solution for Cyprus in 2016 and 35 percent believe there will be reunification. The survey was commissioned by the Cypriot Simerini newspaper and was published on Sunday, Jan. 3. It found that 48 percent of participants were dissatisfied or somewhat dissatisfied with Anastasiades's handling of the Cyprus issue and 61 percent of Greek Cypriots were dissatisfied or somewhat dissatisfied with Akıncı's stance. The survey found similar results to those of the referendum on the U.N.-backed Annan Plan for the reunification of Cyprus in 2004, which failed due to widespread antipathy of Greek Cypriots. In this regard, Dr. Sylvia Tiryaki, who is the deputy director and co-founder of the Global Political Trends (GPoT) Center in Istanbul, told Daily Sabah: "Recent trends in both Cypriot communities seem to be reversed in comparison to 2004. While in 2004 Greek Cypriots showed a little appetite for reconciliation, in 2015 there were just Turkish Cypriots whose enthusiasm for unification of the island showed a downturn."
Tiryaki added: "It will take enhanced responsibility and determination of not only leaders, but also civil society and media to keep up with the optimistic language and positive messages to bring Greek Cypriot society to a ‘yes' result in the referendum." Commenting on the reunification talks, Tiryaki also praised both the Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders, and added: "Anastasiades and Akıncı have been doing a great job jointly. For the first time in the history of bi-communal talks, which go back to 1968, Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders are talking about a joint venture, using the same language and try to de-escalate the urge to emphasize the maximalist positions on diverging issues. They deserve to be given huge credit and need to be supported by respective civil societies and media."
In addition to Tiryaki, Dr. Mehmet Uğur Ekinci, a researcher at the Ankara-based Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA), said there is hesitant optimism from the leaders regarding reunification. Ekinci further said: "At the beginning of the negotiations, the principle of ‘no agreement unless all is agreed' was accepted. Thus, in order to complete meetings in a successful way that embodies a positive atmosphere, both sides should agree on all topics, which does not seem easy at the moment." Ekinci also commented on the survey: "The results from the survey can be understood as a message from both communities indicating that ‘we've experienced this before and no result was yielded.' " He finalized his remarks by underlining that "if a resolution package that does not leave out the guaranties it presented to the Greek side, I believe that the majority of Greek Cypriots will perhaps say no to reunification."