Cyprus’ location in the Eastern Mediterranean endows it with a strategic significance far beyond its small size. By working to resolve long-standing conflict in Cyprus, the U.S. is promoting regional stability and economic prosperity and security. The persistent division of the island and tension between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities is the consequence of a long history of conflict that erupted in inter-communal violence in the 1960s and culminated in armed conflict in 1974. The unresolved conflict continues to raise tensions between important NATO allies Greece and Turkey. The U.S. Congress has backed this policy perspective with legislation and regular annual Economic Support Funds (ESF) “aimed at reunification of the island and designed to reduce tensions and promote peace and cooperation between the two communities on Cyprus.”
Working For Greater Peace And Security
Peace and security in Cyprus remains a complex challenge. After almost 40 years, the economic and social disparities between the two sides have grown and continue to complicate the negotiation of settlement terms. Trust between the two sides remains low. USAID aims to strengthen conditions that will foster an eventual settlement that majorities on both sides will support and work to sustain. USAID undertakes this task with full awareness of the many sensitive issues that have hampered settlement over the years, most notably the complicated status of property claims and lack of international political recognition of the authorities that have represented Turkish Cypriot interests since 1974.
Establishing Cooperation And Trust Among Cypriots
Without increased public dialogue and constructive engagement on issues critical to settlement, it will be hard to overcome currently entrenched attitudes and behaviors. While achieving a settlement will require strong leadership on both sides to challenge existing taboos, a culture of mutual understanding and habits of cooperation are required to create island-wide momentum and demand for a durable and comprehensive Cyprus settlement. To strengthen that culture, USAID supports activities that bring Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots together and strengthen their ability to design Cypriot solutions to Cypriot problems.
USAID supports conflict resolution and peace building through a wide variety of projects, such as rescuing common cultural heritage, protecting biodiversity in the buffer zone, and promoting cross- community business networking continue to provide opportunities to build trust in areas of common interest. Programs in community media, civic engagement, and planning common spaces are also helping directly link Cypriot-driven reconciliation efforts to the peace process.
Building Partnerships For Economic Growth
Reunification requires reconciliation and the alleviation of the economic disparities and distance between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities. USAID activities build peace constituencies by promoting a constructive and interactive dialogue between business associations to improve the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community including: trade across the buffer zone; restoration of cultural heritage sites throughout the island for the benefit of future generations and as a sign of mutual respect; improved management of key environmental resources; and curriculum development with Turkish Cypriot educators to match the skills and desires of graduates to the needs of the economy. In addition, these efforts will help the Turkish Cypriot community become an active participant in the reunification process.
Last updated: January 27, 2016