Experts address necessity to determine Cypriots' needs before possible referendum

ÖZGE KARAGÖZ
ANKARA
Published 14.04.2017 21:44

The U.N.-led Cyprus peace talks between Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı and Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, which restarted on April 11 after a nearly two-month break, were discussed by experts at a panel in the British Institute in Ankara on Friday. Experts emphasized that the leaders need to determine what the Cypriots actually need.

As a positive outcome from the reunification talks would lead to a referendum in Cyprus, the panel, "The Cyprus Peace Talks: Prospects & Challenges in a Post-Referendum Period," addressed the challenges of the reunification process and a possible referendum. Esra Çuhadar from Bilkent University, speaking at the panel, stated that the politicians should analyze whether Cyprus would need another referendum since the 2004 referendum failed. Çuhadar emphasized that, "The political leaders cannot implement an agreement without public support." Thus, before the referendum, the leaders should lay a foundation to make the referendum acceptable to gain the increasing political elites' support and public awareness on the issue.

"Rather than focusing on the idea of organizing a referendum, we should initially think about what else can be done up to the referendum to increase public support. Additionally, different consultative bodies should come together to enhance peace, which should also include opposing groups [to start brainstorming]," Çuhadar added. She also stated that the process should be reinforced by additional forms and mechanisms to create a solid ground for the agreement between Akıncı and Anastasiades to be implemented.

Neophytos Loizides, from the University of Kent, highlighted the need to understand the post-1974 victims in an effort to analyze the Cyprus issue accurately. In 1974, Cyprus was divided after an enosis-inspired military coup was followed by violence against the Turkish people on the island and concluded with Turkey's involvement as a guarantor power. Based on Loizides' research, more than 50 percent of Cypriot people were displaced from their homes and more than 20 percent of the families on the island had lost a member of their family. For this reason, Loizides indicated that it is "very important to look at the victims" because most of the victims support the solution. He also noted, "If the possible referendum fails, the governments should continue to support their citizens for peace on the island."

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