UN poll shows that most Cypriots want “peace process in closer contact with the people”
Nicosia, Apr 25 - Most Cypriots would welcome initiatives that would bring the peace process in closer contact with the people, according to a recent poll by UNFICYP (UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus).
The poll, conducted in February 2007, also showed that almost all Turkish Cypriots feel somewhat or very secure living in Cyprus, whereas over half of the Greek Cypriots respond that they feel somewhat or very insecure.
The main source of Turkish Cypriot security is the presence of over 40,000 Turkish troops in Cyprus, following Turkey’s 1974 invasion and continued occupation of over a third of the island. This is the main source of insecurity for the Greek Cypriots, who consider the notion that the Turkish Army may move aggressively against them in the future to be a definite possibility.
The survey also shows that the UN Peacekeeping Force is the only military force in Cyprus that simultaneously enhances the sense of security both of Greek Cypriots and of Turkish Cypriots.
Majorities in both communities say they consider UNFICYP to be a positive presence on the island, and deem as negative any scenario in which UNFICYP withdraws prior to the restoration of normality.
Regarding the crossing between the two sides, the vast majority of Greek Cypriots who have crossed chose to restrict themselves to a visit to their pre-1974 occupied homes, often combining the trip with a religious pilgrimage to an Orthodox church or monastery.
Most Turkish Cypriots cross to the government controlled areas for excursions, shopping, working, medical care or for acquiring official documentations from the Republic of Cyprus.
Even though both communities generally accept and acknowledge the merits and benefits of bicommunal contact, there doesn’t seem to be “meaningful contacts” between them.
Moreover, each of the two communities seems to misperceive the intentions of the other with regard to the type of settlement preferred.
The process that led up to the Annan Plan in 2004 is seen as controversial by the Greek Cypriots and acceptable by the Turkish Cypriots. In contrast, the “Gambari Process” that is currently underway is seen as simultaneously acceptable both by the Greek Cypriot public and by the Turkish Cypriot public.