Experiential Activities in Mediation‐Based Training: Cyprus, 1997–2013

Published date01 March 2017
AuthorJohn Ungerleider,A. Marco Turk
Date01 March 2017
C R Q, vol. 34, no. 3, Spring 2017 281
© 2016 Association for Confl ict Resolution and Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Published online in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com) • DOI: 10.1002/crq.21183
Experiential Activities in Mediation-Based Training:
Cyprus, 1997–2013
A. Marco Turk
John Ungerleider
Interactive experiential activities were used in a series of mediation-
based and interpersonal relationship training programs in Cyprus to
raise sensitivity and awareness when responding to the multiple, inter-
weaving issues and complex perspectives that arise in an interpersonal,
intercultural, interethnic, identity-based, and political confl ict based on
the respective histories of the two disputing communities.  is approach
oriented participants to the underlying nature of the mediation process
and produced improved interpersonal relationships between civil society
members of the historically divided Greek and Turkish Cypriot commu-
nities, who in most instances have held diff ering views on reunifi cation
of the island. In view of the apparent current improved climate for
reunifi cation and the potential 2016 eff orts for another referendum to
accomplish that goal, possible attempts to use this approach to positively
engage people bicommunally on the ground bear close consideration as
an indispensable auxiliary to the political process.
I n order to raise sensitivity and awareness for those working to address
the complex issues that arise in an interpersonal, intercultural, intereth-
nic, identity-based, and political confl ict, we used hands-on experiential
activities in an innovative series of mediation-based trainings in Cyprus
from 1997 to 2013. Although diff erent in approach, this work grew out
of Cypriot citizen confl ict resolution training foundations laid by previous
U.S. trainers, academics, and Fulbright Scholars, including Herbert Kel-
man, Ronald Fisher, Louise Diamond, Diana Chagas, Ben Broome, and
Philip Snyder, during the early to mid-1990s (Broome 2008 ; Diamond
and Chigas 1994 ; Fisher 1997 ; Kelman 1998 ).
282 T, U
C R Q • DOI: 10.1002/crq
What makes our work unique is that it was specifi cally grounded in
the use of mediation-based skills and techniques like relationship building
rather than a specifi c alternate dispute resolution process. Daniel Hadjit-
tofi , then executive director of the Cyprus Fulbright Commission, told
one of us in 1998 that this approach had not been attempted previously in
Cyprus (Turk 2006 , 2013 ).
In addition, its uniqueness arose from the fact that it was not a specifi c
one-time program of defi ned length, but rather a continuation of these
eff orts over the ensuing years reaching into expanded subject matter areas.
Each eff ort built on what went before. In connection with the adult train-
ing eff orts, the same general group of participants from both communities
was invited to participate at each stage as the work advanced and pro-
gressed over the years.  is enabled a sequential observation of how the
participants improved their bicommunal interaction as their communicat-
ing and connecting skills developed. As such, this approach can be helpful
in other domestic and foreign situations of confl ict.
e island of Cyprus has been ethnically divided between Greek and
Turkish Cypriots for over fi fty-six years, since securing its independence
as the Republic of Cyprus from the United Kingdom in 1960. During
the early years of its independence, emerging from the culture of violence
spawned by the turmoil resulting from having ejected British colonial
rule, Greek Cypriots in particular committed atrocities against the Turk-
ish Cypriot minority population. In 1974, approximately 35,000 hostile
Turkish troops arrived on the northern part of the island, claiming the need
to protect the Turkish Cypriot community in the face of a Greek-backed
coup d état mounted against the president of the republic, Archbishop
Makarios.  is eff ectively partitioned the island into two communities
(divided by what was referred to as the buff er zone or green line, thereafter
maintained and patrolled by UN troops) as they forced an exchange of
populations (Turk 2006 , 2013 ).
is resulted in giving birth to what has since been referred to as the
Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, in the northern part, still protected
and internationally recognized only by Turkey. All political attempts since
that date to eff ect reunifi cation of the island have failed.  is has permit-
ted Greek Cyprus to become a member of the European Union, while at
the same time the Turkish Cypriots have been excluded from membership.
Reunifi cation has the potential to increase a shared identity between the
two communities as Europeans on the island when Turkish Cypriots are
also admitted (Turk 2006 , 2013 ).

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