The Need for Track I-Track II Cooperation

 

Carolyn Stephenson

Professor of Population Studies, College of Social Sciences, University of Hawai'i

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 ???).

A: I did that in the middle of my Cyprus grant so when I came back, the US ambassador asked me to do a talk on sustainable tourism and what had just gone on at the UN session. This was to be a high-level thing between environment departments, tourism departments, hotel leaders, chambers of commerce people and various other commercial parts of the 2 administrative entities, one being the government and the other being what we can't call the government. We had tremendous reaction from people on both sides willing to come to this. Within hours of when we were going to do this, it had been set up for a month, invitations were out, and all the supplies were bought.

Within hours the Turkish Cypriot government denied the passes for the groups of people who were supposed to come from the Turkish side. The negotiations were supposed to be set up so that they would increase the amount of non-governmental, Track II kind of stuff that was allowed. In fact, because of the heightened political tension in the negotiations, the reverse happened and so they looked more carefully at these kinds of things. People were able to bring groups to the US to work, or to parts of Europe but they wouldn't allow them to meet in Cyprus.

Q: Does that underscore the potential power of Track II efforts by the Track I folks who were so threatened by the possible

A: Well, it's both. And that's the area that I'm particularly interested in at this point. A government can, in fact, shut off Track II efforts just like that. So ultimately, it both reflects the power of Track II to get long-term change, but it also reflects the power of government to completely stop Track II efforts. That balance between the two is always an absolutely critical point. We always had to decide what do you do? For example, the ambassador is scheduled to be there, you've got high-level ministry people on both sides, and you get it cut off. Do you hold it with just the side that's able to do it or do you call it off? Who do you end up punishing by having it or not having it and so on. So we held it on the side that had agreed to do it, but the question again is do you hold it on the other side? Which then gives recognition to the other side because you're doing it physically on their territory. Without that, they're not going to get the stuff on what's going on in the world arena on sustainable tourism and how do you make a hotel and not put sewage into the ocean and so on.

So you're always torn between wanting to be helpful on communicating what needs to be communicated versus legitimizing a group that is wanting the legitimization on that and not allowing you to do the communication work and the conflict resolution work which is the basis for the reason that you're doing a sustainable tourism lecture in the first place. This was not only true for the work that I was doing but high level people from the Fulbright Commission in Washington were there doing things and they were allowed to do things, taking kids to Washington, but setting up one preparation for those same kids was not allowed. This is a pattern that goes on and on and it's a major problem I think generally for Track II action because it is always subject to governmental approval. Now there are ways you can do it by moving out of the country, but even then you still have to get passports, and passes, and so forth in order to get out and be able to get back in.