Most Greek Cypriots in favor of co-existence despite insecurity

After decades of isolation, the prospect of co-existence with the Turkish Cypriots once again the subject of public debate among Greek Cypriots, who were unprepared for the reversal of the social equilibrium brought about by the Turkish invasion of 1974. Around three quarters of Greek Cypriots now want a «compromise solution for reunification with mutual compromises now,» according to polls carried out for the Cypriot Radio Foundation (RIK) and the Pan-Cypriot Surveys on Political Behavior. Two-thirds of Greek Cypriots do not feel hostile toward the Turkish Cypriots and agree it is better for the two communities to live together. Although it is apparent that social conditions for making a solution viable do exist, 40 percent of Greek Cypriots still feel insecurity and fear. People are also less optimistic than they were just two years ago. Only 55 percent feel optimistic now compared to 65 percent in October 2000, while the number of those who are pessimistic about the outcome of the Cyprus issue is up to 37 percent from 29 percent in 2000. Younger people are more suspicious of the other side (two thirds of the 18-24 age group believe that co-existence is not possible). This is the generation that has grown up separately from the Turkish Cypriots, do not speak Turkish. The channels of communication between the two communities have been long broken. A desire for two separate communities was also fed by the ideological climate prevalent after the invasion, and perhaps by the general international climate of conflicts in the 1990s. The older generations with experience of co-existence appear to be less prejudiced and more confident about the possibility of living together in peace. Only one fifth of those aged over 55 have a negative view of co-existence. Supporters of the different political parties do not differ radically in their views on the issue. Despite the traditionally favorable relationship between the left and Turkish Cypriots, leftist voters today appear to be only slightly more favorably disposed toward future co-existence. Amongst AKEL voters, 60 percent are in favor, 33 percent against, while amongst Democratic Rally voters, 57 percent are in favor, 35 percent against. Yiannis Mavris is managing director of the VPRC polling firm and has been an election analyst for the Cypriot Radio Foundation (RIK) since 1993.