Coexisting in Cyprus

Helen Chauncey

The Coexistence Initiative

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003

This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

Q: So in that sense it sounds like you are including coexistence as conflict resolution with an emphasis on preserving identity. When I hear coexistence I think of things like Cyprus where there are two parties in conflict in sort of a holding pattern. There is not a lot of violence but there is not a lot of progress. When I hear coexistence I don't think resolution.

A: Our goal is resolution. So let's take Cyprus as an example. Cyprus, as it now stands, is an example of what we would call "passive coexistence." There is not a lot of violence right now. That is certainly better than it could be. The situation is also not resolved. Cyprus is a good example of the piece that is missing, because a lot of very dedicated effort has gone into trying to figure out, into trying to move forward into the next step in the context of Cyprus. One of the arguments we make with relation to a situation such as Cyprus is that you need to have a way in which you can do more than come up to the line and look at each other across the line. As you look across the line you say that I actually want to have the identity of the person on the other side of that line part of my broader civic and cultural identity. I not only know that I need to do that because we don't want this stalemate to go on forever, but I would like to do that. That process would enrich us.

There is a technical process but there is also, in the long run, one of ways how we know we've gotten there, indicators is that people will actually demand, actually reach out for and embrace different identities without fear that is going to cause them to loose their own identity. You can be what you are and interact with identities different from yourself without fear of losing your own identity, and in a way that is constructive to both sides.