Category Archives: Reconciliation

Opening a digital Window to the History of Cyprus

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

This article was first published on page 16 of The Cyprus Weekly (8 February 2013).

Allow me to start with a few questions: What is the relationship between medieval Cyprus and media? How can centuries-old historical artefacts be brought to life by modern technology? Can a creative interpretation of cultural heritage help cultivate a vision of a common future in Cyprus? At a small gathering at the Cyprus Community Media Centre (CCMC) on Saturday 26 January, celebrating over two year’s work on, the Cyprus Artefacts Treasure (CAT) media education project , the answers were clear in our minds.

A little bit of background to start with. In October 2011, and under the auspices of the International Children’s Film Festival of Cyprus, or ICFFCY for short, the participants in CAT 1 got together in a group comprised of 20 Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot children from Paphos and Famagusta as well as 10 adults. What we wanted was to respond to the Brussels Declaration, adopted in January 2011 under the Belgian Presidency of the European Union, which called for, amongst others, the development and promotion of “pedagogies adapted to each audience, to all ages of life, to varying social and cultural backgrounds”. And what better way to learn about the creative use of media than through the lens of history and culture!

There is often criticism of so-called ‘bicommunal’ projects for not affecting significant changes, but we beg to differ. Because we knew what we wanted to do! Our bicommunal group of eager young Cypriots and enthusiastic educators met regularly over a period of 6 months during the CAT 1 and worked on 5 animation films which illustrated each in its own unique way, a little bit of Cypriot artefacts from the Ayia Irini collection. All of a sudden through the eyes of the children emerged a blend of creativity and history that brought to life a world long forgotten, consigned for the most part to history textbooks, encyclopaedias, and dusty museum displays. In that time we also published two educational booklets about Cypriot artefacts prepared jointly by ICFFCY and the Association for Historical Dialogue and Research (AHDR).

The excitement got the better of us! In May 2012 we launched the CAT 2 with the aim of building on the success of CAT 1, and to strengthen the bonds between our two partners, the Famagusta Cultural Association and Paphos Antamosis organisation. We realised that culture and media really could be used as a vehicle for promoting a shared understanding of both past and present, for promoting trust and dialogue, and for nurturing reconciliation. This time we were focusing on medieval Cypriot artefacts.

We traversed the island visiting medieval archaeological, from St Hilarion all the way to Paphos Castle. The work was not always easy of course – there is the issue of language that we had work with, and the very obvious impact of the division of the island. But where there is a will, there is a way. And our group leaders and volunteers worked tirelessly, with a smile on their face and with tremendous energy to keep the momentum of CAT going. In the process we managed to involve not only the children but also their parents, with people experiencing the ‘other’s’ reality, which was an equally rewarding experience.

Whether there will be a CAT 3 remains to be seen. But if there are parents and teachers out there who would like to become involved with our work, or would just like to find out more information about CAT, please visit our website http://www.icffcy-cat.com.

The CAT was supported by the Bicommunal Support Programme of the US Embassy in Cyprus and organised by ICFFCY in collaboration with Mağusa Kültür Derneği in Famagusta and Antamosis in Paphos.

Lands of No Return lecture with Prof Roger Zetter (30 January)

lecture-migration

The NGO Support Centre (@ngo_centre) are working with the Association for Historical Dialogue and Research (@AHDRCY) on an open lecture entitled ‘Lands of No Return: population exchange and forced displacement in the 20th century’ next Wednesday 30 January, at 18:00, at the Home for Cooperation, in Nicosia.

The lecture will be given by Prof Roger Zetter, Emeritus Professor in Refugee Studies, University of Oxford, and will be followed by the screening of the ‘Twice a Stranger’ documentary.

CCMC Incentive Awards announced tomorrow!

Photos from Day 2 of CMFE Conference 2011 #cmfe2011

Stop the press!

CCMC is announcing the recipients of its Incentive Awards for Media Collaboration tomorrow Tuesday 22 January, 11 am, at a ceremony at the Home for Cooperation in Nicosia.

The Incentive Awards were launched in September 2012 under the MultiCommMedia project in order to promote professional collaboration between the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot media, and to initiate a discussion about the importance of a common media space for all Cypriots.

At CCMC we believe wholeheartedly that the exchange of content as well as dialogue among media across the island can play a crucial role in helping all communities understand each other’s daily realities and concerns.

We can’t wait to announce the new partnerships, and we are convinced that their work will create new possibilities for cross-community understanding!

And the newly opened Crossroads Cafe will be providing us with the best coffee and cookies in town!

Civil Society’s New Year’s Wish List

This article was first published on page 19 of The Cyprus Weekly (4 January 2013).

2013, dubbed by many as the most difficult year for Cyprus since 1974, is likely to be a year when the general public, and by extension civil society organisations, will increase their demands on the political leadership in light of economic austerity.

Here’s to wishing (and working) for a Happy New Year 2013!

1) Greater transparency and access to information
Writing in The Cyprus Weekly back in November, Maria Kapardis, Chairperson of Transparency Cyprus, spoke of the urgent need for greater transparency in political party funding, as highlighted in the Council of Europe’s GRECO report in 2011. In December, the presidential candidates who had put forward recommendations for fighting corruption all pulled out of an open discussion organised by Transparency Cyprus on the issue. However, going into 2013, there is a momentum generated behind a move for greater openness at the political level, and with the austerity measures likely to bite hard this year, the demand for transparency and accountability will grow. 2013 will also be a good time to implement the recommendations of the Access Info Cyprus project, which include, amongst others, adopting a law on access to public information, as well as full and proactive publication of information about the structure, policies, functioning, and budget of each public, to be presented in a way that is members of the general public can understand.

2) Protection and support for society’s vulnerable and marginalised groups
“During the economic crisis people with special needs and especially those with severe disability, face bigger problems due to their disabilities. The weight of these measures will affect people with special needs who are living on the poverty line even more.” A statement by the Cyprus Paraplegic Organisation, issued last November condemning impending cuts to government spending on benefits received by people with special needs. Nevertheless cuts went ahead as planned; cuts which will also affect other vulnerable groups in society including recognised refugees and asylum seekers. It appears that the time has come to close ranks in civil society around the issue of social policy and support. No longer are organisations fighting separate causes, and there must be a realisation that there is both a common cause to fight for and a value in the strength in numbers.

3) Establishing a functioning legal framework for civil society
There is a risk that we sound repetitive… However back in August we highlighted the fact that the process for reform of the Cyprus law as this relates to non-governmental organisations was stuck and in urgent need of a kick up the backside. We spoke with both the Ministries of the Interior and Finance, both of whom assured us that progress was being made and that we should expect “movement” in the process by the end of the calendar year. While both ministries may point to more pressing economic concerns, the majority of the groundwork has been done, and what is needed now is more of a ‘political’ push. We hope that after the presidential elections in February progress can be made towards seeing this process through to an acceptable conclusion for all.

4) Effective participation in the Cyprus peace process
Another process which came to a grinding halt last year, but is expected to be resuscitated in the post-election period. Whichever of the candidates assumes the Presidency they will be faced with a population that is frustrated by the lack of clear progress towards a solution. According to research conducted by the bicommunal think-tank Cyprus2015, there is an increasing trend towards a “no” vote: 51% amongst Greek Cypriot and 42% amongst Turkish Cypriots. In light of this, we believe that the leaders of the two communities would do well to consider Cyprus2015’s “five principles” for redesigning the peace process, and in particular to “develop mechanisms of public consultation, to ensure two-way communication between the leadership and society at large, thus creating a peace process which is owned by the grassroots”.

Can there be a ‘Women’s Peace’?

1

By Olga Demetriou, a member of GAT – Gender Advisory Team (prio.olga@cytanet.com.cy)

This article was first published on page 16 of The Cyprus Weekly (21 December).

Last Thursday, the Buffer Zone was host to a conference entitled ‘Women’s Peace’. Conference organisers GAT (which stands for ‘Gender Advisory Team’) argued that women’s perspectives of peace and thus their expectations from a peace agreement should be integrated into the agendas of conspicuously male Cypriot politicians. GAT, which consists of Cypriot academics and activists working in various areas of gender rights has been making that argument since 2009, when it was formed.

Since then, it has taken the point to negotiators and others involved in the peace process, in the form of recommendations of what a gender-sensitive peace agreement should entail. Much of this may still to most people sound too technical or narrowly-focused on ‘women’ (why 50% of the population should be considered ‘narrow focus’ is still perplexing to me, but that is another discussion). So what does it actually mean? GAT’s perspective on power-sharing is a good example.

‘Power-sharing’ is intuitively understood as the diachronic domain of men; ‘power’ tends to signal what women should not be interested in – and most ‘good’ women often aren’t. ‘Sharing’ of course carries a more ‘homely’ ring to it, but in the given hyphenated structure (‘power-sharing’), it tends both to be effaced by the power of the first term, and to act as a prop that lends ‘power’ an added ‘technical’ implication. The question of ‘power-sharing’ thus tends to be understood as a technical matter pertaining to numbers in the allocation of seats in government and state institutions and in the calibration of each citizen’s vote. Together, governance and power-sharing have resonated more with (male) politicians, who propose and reject schemes of assigning weight to votes, ministries, and state institutions.

GAT’s recommendations on governance and power-sharing take a different approach. From the inception of modern statehood in Cyprus, women’s representation in government has been minimal; and the structure of negotiations thus far threatens to perpetuate this situation into the future state. GAT’s key concern is to re-position the interpretation of ‘power-sharing’ within more pluralistic framings of democratic rights. And while women’s rights are central to this attempt, the rights of sexual and immigrant minorities, and of children, youth, and the elderly are also embraced.

In a context where ‘the Cyprus problem’ is presented as ‘urgent’ and everything else ‘secondary’, and because, despite its persistence over three generations now, ‘the Cyprus problem’ is likely to be outlived by the problem of gender inequality, women, along with other social groups, have a stake in the phrasing of the Constitution, the government’s organogram, the design of the courts, the make-up of the police, and so on. The recommendations put forth by GAT are a mere reminder that ‘sharing’ must not be about ethnic ratios solely, but about gender ones as well. And that it needs to be framed in the aim not of a compromise against some ideal of autonomy, but of obligation, cohesion, cooperation, and inclusion.

The four sets of recommendations (on governance, citizenship, property, and economy) reflect this logic and call for no less than an overhaul to the thinking that has guided negotiations thus far. It is GAT’s vision that the mainstreaming of gender in the peace negotiations, and the implementation of an agreement, as well as in efforts outside the formal frame of negotiations, will contribute to a different understanding of the problems that have plagued the island over the decades. These have not only been problems of ethnicised politics and foreign interventions but also of a social and patriarchal order. ‘Cyprus’ from this perspective might slowly begin to look like a different place, a place other than conflict, war and trauma, a place where the future can be imagined productively and built solidly.

This is what a feminist (in a non-exclusive sense vis-à-vis men) ‘sharing’ of ‘power’ should be about.

GAT’s report and recommendations are available online.

Cyprus Friendship Programme 2013 Application open!

Cyprus Friendship Programme_w550

The Cyprus Friendship Programme (CFP) has announced its application process for 2013!

CFP aims to create bonds of friendship and trust among the youth of the communities of Cyprus. Each teen from one community is ‘paired’ with another of the same gender from the other community. Each pair is then hosted in July for four weeks by a family in the United States.

To find out more click here to download information.

The Cyprus Friendship Programme (CFP) is modeled on the all-volunteer Children’s Friendship Project for Northern Ireland (CFPNI), a peace and friendship building programme that successfully brought more than 2,000 Protestant and Catholic teens (as well as their families and their friends) in Northern Ireland together throughout its 21 year existence. CFPNI came to its successful completion in 2007.

The bi-communal Cyprus Friendship Programme started in 2009 as an initiative of HasNa, a small US non-profit organisation in cooperation with a Cypriot team of coordinators. Currently, the US leg of the programme is managed by the Cyprus Friendship Programme Incorporated (CFP Inc.), a new non-governmental, non-profit organization based in the US. The Cyprus leg of the programme is managed by a bi-communal team of Cypriot coordinators. The two groups cooperate harmoniously and driven by the same passion to promote a culture of peaceful coexistence.

CFP aims to create bonds of friendship and trust among the youth of the communities of Cyprus. Each teen from one community is ‘paired’ with another of the same gender from the other community. Each pair is then hosted in July for four weeks by a family in the US.

All the coordinators of the programme in Cyprus and the US as well as the board members of CFP Inc. offer their services on a purely voluntary basis. No one gets paid. This also applies for the host families in the US who cover all the expenses of hosting the two teenagers.

Check out their activities on Youtube, or read about them on the Huffington Post!

ENGAGE on the Move promotes peace-building at Kontea Village

kontea-visitors at the ruins of the catholic church - by David Hands

Text from a press release issued by the ENGAGE – Do Your Part for Peace project, implemented jointly by the NGO Support Centre and the Management Centre (12 December 2012):

On Saturday the 8th of December 2012, the ENGAGE team of volunteers and practitioners joined locals and guests at Kontea village in the northern part of Cyprus. The excursion was part of the ENGAGE on the Move campaign, whose aim is to involve the public residing in remote and rural areas in the peace-building process.  ENGAGE on the Move took place in the context of a festive ceremony organised to commemorate the opening of the Auxiliary Buildings Courtyard which was part of the second phase of a unique project that includes elements of the rescue and preservation of an important historical site on the outskirts of the village.

The ENGAGE team attended the bi-communal event to inform the public about various peace and reconciliation issues between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, Cyprus’ Civil Society character and the importance of Active Citizenship and volunteerism. The team also encouraged and inspired those present to voice their opinions on these matters.

The Opening Ceremony was inaugurated by US Ambassador to Cyprus H.E. Mr. John M. Koenig who stated that the Kontea locals and restoration team had gone above and beyond USAID’s expectations and emphasised his hope that the work being done at the village would prove to be a valuable reconciliation example that could be used in the near future.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Charalambos Pericleous, president of the Kontea Heritage Foundation stated that when the project first started, the courtyard as well as the relationship between the two communities was ‘in ruins’, but once the restoration process began ‘step by step, stone by stone, trust was rebuilt’.

Mr Selcan Akyel, representative of the Union of the Chambers of Cyprus Turkish Engineers and Architects, who was directly involved in the restoration process, also welcomed the participants and highlighted the importance of bi-communal cooperation to preserve historical heritage landmarks stating that ‘by working together for projects like these, we can show the general public that we can work together for peace’.

For some, the festival offered a unique opportunity to visit the beautiful village for the first time and for others it was a chance to reminisce and share childhood memories. The event proved to be a great success with over 500 active participants who enjoyed authentic Cypriot cuisine and folk music as well as traditional dances by the bi-communal dance ensemble ‘Dance for Peace’.  Younger visitors had the opportunity to work with local artist Sevcan Cerkez to create clay handprints that will be used in the creation of a sculpture to be unveiled at the ENGAGE closing ceremony in July 2013.

Getting the word out! CCMC live in Chicago

The magic of the digital age…

Last Wednesday (1 August), CCMC’s Larry Fergeson took the CCMC message to Chicago, speaking at a workshop during the annual Alliance for Community Media (ACM) Conference. Larry took part a discussion on “Community Media for Development and Conflict Resolution in Europe” over Skype, joining fellow panelists Erik Möllberg, Assistant Manager at Access Fort Wayne, John Higgins (a good friend of CCMC!) from University of San Francisco, and Pembe Mentesh, Programme Analyst at UNDP-ACT in Cyprus.

The panel was an opportunity to discuss how community media can be a useful tool for development work, advocacy, and social change, with CCMC as a case study, while Larry also doubled up as a member of the Board of the Community Media Forum Europe (CMFE) to outline the work of the organisation at the European level.

The discussion was featured in the latest edition of the AMARC Europe newsletter, where you can also read about the threats to the community radio movement in Greece.

Links of the Week: Communications for Development

The internet is an incredible source of information, and we are reading and learning every day about issues we care about. So we thought that we would share with you the 5 most interesting links from the world of media, and this week our focus is on media, or communications more generally, for development.

1) ‘Media and governance: what the academics say’

Direct from the blog of Panos London comes a post from Mary Myers, a communications for development consultant specialising in radio in Africa, who has been pondering the question of whether “a pluralistic media can make the government more accountable”. In her post, Myers grapples with the academic angle of answering “yes” to a question that in reality is quite difficult to measure, based on a report she published for the Center for International Media Assistance. Read on to find out which theorists made it onto ‘who’s who’ list of media for development gurus.

 

 

2) ‘Media, Communication and Development: Three Approaches’

Staying with the academic side of things, and a new book by Linje Manyozo from the Department for Media and Communications at the London School of Economics (LSE). According to Ørecomm: Centre for Communication and Glocal Change, the book “critically investigates the three approaches that have characterised most debates in the field of Media, Communications and Development since its emergence in the 1950s, namely, media development, media for development and stakeholder and community engagement”. Ørecomm is a bi-national research group that originated at Malmö University (MAH) and Roskilde University (RUC) for research in the field of Communication for Development, and focuses on the relations between media, communication and social change processes at both global and local levels.

 

3) Media in Fragile Environments: The IONA Methodology

Today CCMC had the pleasure in meeting Eran Fraenkel, a media consultant and trainer who was involved in the development of the United States Institute of Peace‘s Intended-Outcomes Needs Assessment, or IONA for short, methodology, which will help address the lack of clear definition of expected outcomes for media interventions in conflict situations. We will certainly be taking a close look at IONA to see how we can best integrate it within our current working framework, as well as for any future projects we will be implementing in the field of development communications.

 

 

4) Tailor-made planning for NGOs

The Panos London blog has certainly made for interesting reading this week! Bec Shaw Crompton, Panos’ head of programme operations has been blogging about an under-estimated skills-set: project management. Most of us would agree that not enough emphasis is placed on this element of the institutional development of NGOs. He recommends Project Management for Development Professionals (PMD-Pro), the first internationally accredited project management course for NGOs, created by John Cropper who was Oxfam’s head of management accountability and is now a director at LINGOS (Learning In NGOs). Next step is to find out how we can get ourselves accredited on PMD-Pro!

5) Communicating Across borders in the South Caucasus

Last but not least, an entry from Accord, an international review of peace initiatives, published by the London-based organisation Conciliation Resources. In their piece on the role of media in peacebuilding in the South Caucasus, Rachel Clogg and Jenny Norton take a look at Conciliation Resources’ work in the region from 2002 to the present, showing how their work, in conjunction with others organisations focusing on the role of the media, have helped overcome borders, both real and imagined, that have kept people apart. Needless to say we understand how valuable this kind of work is given that we are immersed in this field day in day out. Let’s hope we can have the same degree of success, and perhaps at some point in the future we can work with Conciliation Resources in pursuit of what are obviously common goals.

TedxNicosia Speakers Inspire Cyprus

Photo (C) Παύλος Βρυωνίδης

Photo (C) Παύλος Βρυωνίδης

On 30 November a locally organised event called TEDxNicosia was held at the University of Nicosia that featured inspiring speakers from across Cyprus to communicate to participants “ideas worth spreading”. The event was licensed by TED which is a nonprofit organization that began in the mid-eighties in the United States as a conference aiming to bring together professionals from design, technology and entertainment. From there it has grown into a global phenomenon that provides “riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world.” More information about TED can be found at http://www.ted.com/.

At TEDxNicosia there were almost a dozen riveting talks from various speakers about many interesting topics but the one that really stood out was the presentation of Nicos Anastasiou, who has been involved in bi-communal citizen peace building work in Cyprus for 20 years on a volunteer basis. He related to the audience the many different efforts of every day people who have tried to heal there psychological and emotional wounds stemming from the long running conflict in Cyprus. He told of school classmates reunited from across the divide after 20 years, of teens who react compassionately after learning different historical narratives and the opportunities offered by the Cyprus Friendship Programme which brings together young people from the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities and their families in an effort for those involved to better understand the human elements of the respective communities instead of just the dominate political themes. Nicos Anastasiou inspired participants to get involved in citizen peace building as a way to contribute something positive to the all the people living in Cyprus.

To learn more about TEDxNicosia please visit their website at http://www.tedxnicosia.com/.

Tagged , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: