June 28, 2012

Building Bridges Initiative

In the framework of its ambitious “Building Bridges Initiative”, the IRWF is proud to report the success of the one-day conference and two-day workshop “Leadership for Peacemaking – How to overcome Prejudice with Dignity”, which took place at the Koc University Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations (ANAMED) between June 19th and June 21th.

The first day of the conference, which was opened to the public at large, drew a multi-faceted audience. Besides the regular attendants, academicians and students from Istanbul, a significant number of students and scholars from Slovenia, Greece and Cyprus attended the event, together with representatives of NGO’s and corporations.

The keynote speaker of the conference was Dr. Donna Hicks, from Harvard University and the conference focused on building bridges between Turkey, Greek Cyprus, Turkish Cyprus and Greece.

The two-day workshop that followed involved students from all four backgrounds:
Greek – Cypriot Greek – Cypriot Turk -Turk

The workshop originated 23 ideas on how to proceed with dialogue, creating an atmosphere of respect and dignity between the participants from all the aforementioned backgrounds.

A series of quantitative surveys conducted after the event, amongst Greek-Cypriots attendants and the Turkish Cypriots counterparts show that 22 % of the participants think the problem between both communities is emotional, 29 % political and historical (separately), 11 % economic and 9 % religious.

65 % of the participants stated that the current leadership in their country did not do enough things to improve the situation, 10 % think the current leadership did few things, 16 % think that the leadership did some things and 5 % believe that the current leadership did many things in the last two year.

Similarly, qualitative surveys show that most of the participants from both communities think that the problem can be resolved by furthering inter-communal relations.

These very encouraging results will be an incentive to continue with the IRWF’s Building Bridges Initiative.