Cyprus: UN poll finds majority backing in both communities for federal settlement

24 April 2007

A federal settlement is the only proposal to resolve the Cyprus problem that enjoys majority support in both communities on the Mediterranean island, but there is widespread scepticism that any solution is imminent, according to an inter-communal survey conducted by the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).

A federal settlement is the only proposal to resolve the Cyprus problem that enjoys majority support in both communities on the Mediterranean island, but there is widespread scepticism that any solution is imminent, according to an inter-communal survey conducted by the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).

The survey of 1,000 Greek Cypriots, 1,000 Turkish Cypriots and 300 people living within the UN Buffer Zone (100 Turkish Cypriots and 250 Greek Cypriots), conducted in February and released today, found that both communities consider the UN has an important role to play and welcomed its continuing presence across the island.

But a majority of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots believed the UN was biased in favour of the other community, and they were also wary of the true intentions and preferences of the other side.

The survey was commissioned by UNFICYP to gauge how Cypriots feel about the Mission and the rest of the UN presence on the island, and on their attitudes towards a possible peaceful resolution of the Cyprus problem.

The poll found that “a strong majority” of Greek Cypriots said a unitary State solution was satisfactory, but a similar proportion of Turkish Cypriots viewed such an outcome as unacceptable. Most Turkish Cypriots preferred a two-State arrangement, but most Greek Cypriots said they regarded that idea as untenable.

Yet a majority on both sides saw a federal settlement as “the second best option and would be prepared to accept such a constitutional framework, at the very least as a compromise solution,” according to a press release summarizing the poll results.

Supporters among Greek Cypriots (65 per cent) tended to regard a federal settlement as “tolerable,” whereas Turkish Cypriot supporters (70 per cent) usually viewed it as “satisfactory.” Only small minorities of either community believed the status quo was the answer.

“Rejecting a federal solution out of hand, under any circumstances and regardless of the specific plan, is not a majority viewpoint in either community,” the release added.

The survey showed that a majority on both sides did not want UNFICYP to withdraw before the restoration of normal conditions and a peaceful settlement, but that they also wanted the UN to do more to understand Cypriot concerns across the island.

Examples proposed included outreach programmes to villages and towns, in-depth research into the concerns of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots and an interactive website promoting inter-communal dialogue.

Contacts between the two communities are seen as essential to improving levels of trust and to “pave the way for a united Cyprus, and there is approval for those who reach out the other community through such contacts,” the release noted. But despite this goodwill, few of those interviewed were actually involved in such contacts.

The opening of crossing points may also not have created much of a boost in confidence, the poll found, with only one in 10 Greek Cypriots crossing regularly and 45 per cent of Turkish Cypriots, with many on both sides saying the trips had not enhanced their views of their neighbours.

 

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