Designing Peace: Cyprus and Institutional Innovations in Divided Societies

By Neophytos Loizides | Go to book overview

Chapter 1
A Federal Cyprus? Consociational
Failures and Prospects

Cyprus has experienced conflict at various times in its recent history, and this has inevitably shaped adversarial narratives across the communal divide. Understanding the background of the Cypriot conflict, especially how each community generally perceives certain critical historical junctures, is important before debating potential institutional choices for the future. In particular, identifying the reasons behind failures in previous consociational compromises and mediations is critical as analogies are often made across time and space to inform subsequent decisions. For instance, at critical moments in the past critics have drawn parallels between proposals for the reunification of Cyprus (e.g., the 2002–2004 Annan Plan) and the 1959 Zürich-London Agreements that led to the establishment and subsequent collapse of consociationalism in Cyprus.

Neither community has maintained a homogeneous narrative in its framing of the Cyprus problem, however certain perceptions about the past seem to persist across the ethnic divide. The chapter first presents a short history of the Cyprus problem and then focuses on the most significant up to mid-2015 United Nations mediation attempt in Cyprus, the Annan Plan, which divided each side into those favoring the proposed settlement and those opposing it. While challenging the narratives and arguments of the critics, this chapter also recognizes critical institutional gaps in past UN mediation processes in the island of broader relevance to postconflict peacebuilding. Moreover, the chapter recognizes that history shapes the boundaries of what is possible for the future of conflict-ridden societies and argues that, in Cyprus, a federal arrangement will have better prospects, if it assumes a decentralized form.

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