In post conflict Cyprus of the 1990s, a group of individuals from both sides of the divide, with the help of academics and conflict resolution specialists, started meeting and participating in a series of seminars and trainings. As the newly trained Mediators and Conflict resolution trainers began to educate new groups of Cypriots, Cypriot civil society slowly benefited from a growing number of enthusiastic individuals with a vision for peacebuilding and reconciliation on the island. They now share their experiences and the crystallization of their wisdom in short videos. The human stories and relationships were built out of the common belief that mediation and/or conflict resolution training can truly help alleviate differences and bring forth social change. In the context of a post-conflict society, this group of activists now share their stories from their trainings, interactions with others and journeys of overcoming obstacles encountered, both internal and external.
This is the result of an initiative by Katie Economidou and Dervish Baha, two key figures in the bi-communal groups which were active in Cyprus in the mid-1990s. At that time, it was not possible for Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to meet each other face to face. Cypriot participants in the trainers groups who wanted to meet with their counterparts from the other community consequently had to go to great lengths in order to do so. These meetings were often very emotional and those who took part gained profound and lasting insights into their own behaviour and the socio-political mechanisms at work in their respective communities. These very personal encounters sowed the seeds for the emergence of what subsequently became the civil society peace-building movement and the work done there underpinned many subsequent inter-communal activities. It is hoped that this online record of pioneering work will not only provide a valuable historical account on its own terms, but it will also become a resource for new participants in the peace and reconciliation movement in Cyprus and around the world.