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Monday, 22 April 2019

Cypriot and Greek diasporas in comparative perspectives

The Diaspora workshop which took place on Sunday 7 April in Nicosia, Cyprus mainly focused on Cypriot diasporas. The workshop was opened by Isik Kuscu Bonnenfant, who introduced the British Academy funded project titled ‘Reuniting Cyprus: The British Cypriot Diaspora as Peace Agents’. The team is interested to conduct the project by looking into the diasporas as peace agents in the reunification of Cyprus. Some of the core questions of this project that Neophytos Loizides analysed concentrated on the diaspora’s political engagement. Important research questions focus on the participation of the diaspora in a prospective referendum, on diaspora’s representation in the elections, and on the properties issue. Other presentations dealt with different aspects of the relation between diaspora and homeland in conflict. Themes covered were Turkish Cypriot diaspora electoral demands post 2004 (Isik Kuscu and Hayriye Kavheci), the transformation of Turkish Cypriot diaspora in Turkey and student peace activism (Yucel Vural and Ibrahim Ozejder), the role of post-1974 diaspora intellectuals redefining new reunification narratives (Nicos Trimikliniotis), and on the myths surrounding size of Cypriot diasporas (Mete Hatay). Foteini Kalantzi gave a presentation entitled ‘The Greek Diaspora at SEESOX: Homeland – Diaspora Nexus in times of deep economic crisis’ in the panel ‘Cypriot Diasporas in Comparative Perspectives’. She presented the project’s three main areas of investigation, namely the new emigration, diasporic philanthropy and diasporic political engagement. She also spoke of the project’s methodological innovations, namely the survey with the respondent-driven sampling, the commission work and the digital map.
Before the workshop, there was a special meeting with the core team that is running the Cyprus project. The main discussion in this meeting was the development of the survey, the main tool of this research project. For the purposes of the survey, a questionnaire will be distributed among Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. This project has as a goal to also include the diaspora of both sides, considering the fact that diaspora is an important actor in transnational relations. Discussion revolved around proposed methodologies on the dissemination of the questionnaire and around the specific questions asked to the participants of the survey.

The workshop was followed by a three-day conference on Cyprus entitled ‘Cyprus and Challenges in Constitutional Transitions’. On Monday 8th of April a workshop took place in the Home of Cooperation and it was devoted to negotiation training including an interactive simulation of the Guterres framework and new tools in assessing public opinion trade-offs using conjoint experiments. On Tuesday 9th of April, the conference that took place in the University of Cyprus, was opened by the British High Commissioner to Cyprus, H.E Stephen Lillie CMG, who stressed the role of the British Academy and UK-Cyprus research links. Edward Morgan-Jones in his keynote speech talked about the costs and benefits of semi-presidentialism, which he characterised as a successful model containing positive elements, but also risks like all executive formats. He also mentioned that its impact depends on existing political and social context as rules. At the first panel on semi-presidentialism in Cyprus, Nicos Peristianis stressed the importance of citizens to be informed on the negotiation proposals, while Yucel Vural spoke of the need of separating powers between the president and the prime minister. James Ker-Lindsay analysed the Cypriot executive presidency and described it as a single case of this nature, perhaps only comparable to France. The second panel’s theme was the public opinion in border disputes and constitutional transitions. Laura Sudulich gave a presentation on Northern Irish Citizens preferences for border arrangement after Brexit. Charis Psaltis’ presentation focused on Greek Cypriot internally displaced persons’ political attitudes to power sharing in the framework of the Guterres Package. Huseyin Cakal gave a talk on the role of positive contact in alleviating the psychological cost of returning to pre-74 properties. One of the results of this research project showed that more intergroup contact, strengthened return intentions of both sides’ IDPs (internally displaced persons) to their old properties. Alexandros Lordos analysed the factors reinforcing support of the Minsk Agreement in Eastern Ukraine. The last session of the conference was dedicated in the launching of the book ‘Territory and Power in Constitutional Transitions’ by George Anderson’s and Sujit Choudry’s. George Anderson offered an overview and the discussants Emel Akcali and Aris Constantinides offered their opinion on different case-studies of the book. On Wednesday 10th of April George Anderson, a senior mediation expert with the United Nations’ Mediation Support Unit and Canada’s Deputy Minister of Natural Resources (2002-2005) gave a lecture on the management of Natural Gas and Oil in Federal Systems.

Foteini Kalantzi (A. G. Leventis Reserach Officer, St Antony's College, Oxford) 

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