Public Seminar: ‘Haunted by (Mis)perceptions? Competing Perspectives in Cyprus’, SOAS, 9 November 2016

Speakers:     Dr. James Ker-Lindsay (LSE)
                       Dr. Rebecca Bryant (LSE)
                       Mete Hatay (PRIO)

Chair:             Sir David Logan (Chair of the British Institute at Ankara and former British Ambassador to Turkey)
Date:               Wednesday, 9 November
Time:              18.30-20.00
Location:        Room S209, Senate House, SOAS

Please book a free ticket via the following link:

We are pleased to announce Centre for Policy and Research on Turkey (Research Turkey) public seminar titled “Haunted by (Mis)perceptions? Competing Perspectives in Cyprus” to be delivered by Dr. James Ker-Lindsay (LSE), Dr. Rebecca Bryant (LSE), and Mete Hatay (PRIO). This event will take place on Wednesday, 9 November at 18.30. The event will be held Room S209, Senate House, SOAS. This lecture will be kindly chaired by Sir David Logan (Chair of the British Institute at Ankara and former British Ambassador to the Republic of Turkey).

The “Cyprus Question” represents one of the oldest standing “frozen conflicts” in the world. It is often referred to as an “intractable issue” created not only by international geopolitical intermeddling but also by local ethnic enmities. The recent intercommunal negotiations led by the leaders of the two communities have, however, created an aura of optimism as the two leaders have done their bests to present pictures not of enmity and hostility, but of amity and cooperation. Indeed, the leaders seem to have understood the importance of “perceptions” in conflicts and peacebuilding. Yet, although each and every side emphasises their wish to solve the “Cyprus Question”, the ways with which they perceive the “Question”, and thus the “Answer”, often differs. In this event, our esteemed speakers will look into the histories of political perceptions which very often compete and overlap with each other.

Dr. James Ker-Lindsay will be looking at the current Greek Cypriot perceptions of a “solution”. As the Cyprus talks enter their decisive stage, many observers fear that even if an agreement is reached between the two leaders it may yet be rejected by the Greek Cypriots community in a subsequent referendum. As well as the memories of 2004, there are worries that so many Greek Cypriot political parties oppose the principle of a bizonal, bicommunal solution – either openly or tacitly. Moreover, little seems to have been done to prepare people for a deal. Are we on course for another UN-brokered deal to fall at the final hurdle? His presentation will try to shed some light on how Greek Cypriots view the talks and the prospect of a solution, where their concerns lie and what are likely to be the main problems and pitfalls that could lie ahead if a settlement plan is put to a popular vote.

Dr. Rebecca Bryant and Mete Hatay will be presenting the main findings of their joint report titled Turkish Perceptions of Cyprus: 1948 to the Present. Since its establishment in 1923, the Republic of Turkey has exerted influence over the Turkish-speaking community in Cyprus. In the first thirty years of its existence, however, Turkey’s influence was primarily social and intellectual, with Turkish Cypriot elites adopting Turkish nationalism and following trends coming from Turkey. As they will argue, the Cyprus Problem had to be brought to the attention of the Turkish public in the middle of the twentieth century by Turkish Cypriot elites in collaboration with pan-Turkist intellectuals in Turkey. Once put on the public agenda and formulated as a “national cause,” however, Turkey’s role and rights in Cyprus became unquestionable, defining the limits of what could publicly be said in Turkey about the island. Moreover, Cyprus as national cause began to occupy such a central role in public opinion that there were moments, such as in the military intervention/ invasion of 1974, when government policy followed public opinion, which had by then been whipped up by songs, films, and newspaper articles about “ethnic brethren” threatened with “genocide” in the island. For such reasons, it is important to understand prevalent public attitudes, even towards issues considered foreign policy. They have used archival and media research, as well as ten semi-structured interviews with journalists and policymakers, to examine the evolution of public attitudes towards Cyprus, the Cyprus Problem, and Turkish Cypriots over approximately seven decades. As they show, these three elements have been linked in various ways over time. While from the mid-1950’s to the early 2000’s the perception of Cyprus as a “national cause” encompassed both the strategic and the “human” elements of the problem, the post-2002 period has seen a transformation of Cyprus in Turkish public opinion from a “national cause” to a “national burden.” Moreover, they argue that, because of current conflicts in the region and Turkey’s strategic interests, Turkish public discourse has begun to frame a potential resolution of the Cyprus Problem as a “national opportunity.” By examining the evolution of public attitudes towards Cyprus, they analyse the current conjuncture and where the relationship between north Cyprus and Turkey, and between Turkish Cypriots and Turkish nationals, may be heading in the future.

Chair Biography:

rt_loganSir David Logan served in the political section of the British Embassy in Ankara from 1965-69 and as Ambassador there from 1997-2001. He was a senior associate member of St.Anthony’s College, Oxford in 1988/89 and director of the Centre for Studies in Security and Diplomacy at the University of Birmingham, and an honorary professor there, from 2002-2007. He is chair of the British Institute at Ankara, a research institution dedicated to the understanding of Turkey and the Black Sea.



Speaker Biographies:

ker-lindsayDr. James Ker-Lindsay is Senior Visiting Fellow at the European Institute, London School of Economics and Political Science and Research Associate at the Centre for International Studies, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford. He has written extensively on Cyprus politics and international relations. His books include, Resolving Cyprus: New Approaches to Conflict Resolution (I.B.Tauris, edited); The Cyprus Problem: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press); The Government and Politics of Cyprus (Peter Land, co-edited with Hubert Faustmann); An Island in Europe: The EU and the Transformation of Cyprus (I.B.Tauris, co-edited with Hubert Faustmann and Fiona Mullen); EU accession and UN Peacemaking in Cyprus (Palsgrave Macmillan); Britain and the Cyprus Crisis, 1963-1964 (Bibliopolis). He has also served as the co-editor of The Cyprus Review, the leading academic journal on contemporary Cyprus. He is on Twitter @JamesKerLindsay.

rt_bryantRebecca Bryant is the A. N. Hadjiyannis Associate Professorial Research Fellow in the European Institute at the London School of Economics and a Research Associate of the Peace Research Institute Oslo. She is a cultural anthropologist who has conducted extensive research on both sides of the Cyprus Green Line, as well as in Turkey. She is the author of Imagining the Modern: The Cultures of Nationalism in Cyprus (London: I. B. Tauris, 2004) and The Past in Pieces: Belonging in the New Cyprus (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010), as well as editor of Post- Ottoman Coexistence: Sharing Space in the Shadow of Conflict (London, Berghahn, 2016) and co-editor (with Yiannis Papadakis) of Cyprus and the Politics of Memory: History, Community, and Conflict (London, I.B. Tauris, 2012) She is also co-author, with Mete Hatay, of the forthcoming De Facto Dreams: Building the So-Called State, a book-length examination of Turkish Cypriot state building post-1974.

rt_metehatayMete Hatay has been a Senior Research Consultant at the PRIO Cyprus Centre since its establishment in 2005. He has written widely on minorities and religion in Cyprus as well as politics of demography, memory, inter-ethnic violence, Turkish Cypriot politics, and the ambivalent relationship between Turkish Cypriots and Turkey. His current research concerns Turkish Cypriot social and political life, particularly everyday life in an unrecognised state and the concept of the ‘de facto’ in international politics. He is the author of Beyond Numbers: An Inquiry into the Political Integration of the Turkish ‘Settlers’ in Northern Cyprus (Oslo/Nicosia: PRIO Report 4/2005) and Is the Turkish Cypriot Population Shrinking? An Overview of the Ethno-Demography of Cyprus in Light of the Preliminary Results of the 2006 Turkish- Cypriot Census (Oslo/Nicosia, PRIO Report 2/2007) as well as co-author, with Rebecca Bryant, of the forthcoming De Facto Dreams: Building the So-Called State, a book-length examination of Turkish Cypriot state building post-1974. In addition to his regular appearances and commentaries in local media, Hatay has also published academic articles in many journals including Ethnic and Racial Studies, American Ethnologist, Middle Eastern Studies, Journal of Modern Greek Studies, and Cyprus Review.



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