Preparing for peace (The Cyprus Weekly, 24 January 2016)
By Esra Aygin
We very often in Cyprus make the mistake of confusing a settlement agreement with peace.
Whereas an agreement that puts an end to the division of Cyprus and reunifies the sides will be of vital importance, it will not automatically bring about peace.
To achieve peace, there is an urgent need for a committed and ongoing process of cultivating a culture of cooperation, reconciliation and coexistence.
The preparation for solution and the cultivation of such a culture should have started long ago, according to Professor Ahmet Sozen.
“The two leaders are making progress. But I see this as a progress towards a solution or a comprehensive agreement, rather than peace in Cyprus,” says Sozen.
“The two leaders are proceeding towards a solution, but unfortunately without adequately preparing the communities… Negotiations on the leadership level are, of course, very important. But they are not enough…The lack of preparation of two communities for a federation based on power-sharing and cooperation in Cyprus worries me.”
Statistics from around the world show that there is a failure rate of about 45% of peace agreements within five years. Dr. Jasmine-Kim Westendorf suggests that a lack of peace building to complement settlement agreements plays an important part in this failure.
“Although negotiating a settlement is paramount to a peace process… it is important to see agreements as just one part of a longer process, given their high rates of collapse,” writes Westendorf.
“An agreement is no more than a scrap of paper unless it is backed by ongoing efforts to support and consolidate peace.” Peacebuilding efforts and promotion of a culture of peace must be integrated into all fields of life at every level, from education for a culture of peace to incentives for economic cooperation, to be successful.
Some other factors seem to be common in determining whether a settlement agreement will be successful or not. Local ownership of the negotiation process and the settlement agreement is one of the most important factors, research indicates.
Separately, quick and effective implementation of the agreement, and a well-organised, structured and detailed transition period with concrete timeframes and steps reduces complications and reinforces the feeling of security, according to research.
Also, settlement agreements with detailed power-sharing, political, military, and territorial arrangements are more likely to succeed, whereas those that contain vague provisions for future political arrangements fail more often.
The prompt creation of effective, efficient, functional and accountable state institutions also seem to be of vital importance in creating a feeling of trust among citizens in the new state. The feeling of equality, fairness, social justice, and security, as well as respect for human rights and the rule of law, which emanate from such institutions, play an important role in maintaining support and trust in the peace process.
A common factor in determining the fate of settlements is economic development.
Fostering sustainable development, the eradication of poverty and inequalities, revenue-generation, and creation of stable environments for investment are important factors of peace building success.