The Civil Society Dialogue project was envisioned, designed and implemented by Cypriot peace pioneers, mainly members of the Cyprus Conflict Resolution Trainers Group following the negative outcome of the referendum in 2004. The project brought together civil society organisations from both sides of the island to share experiences and work to create a Citizens’ Platform where ideas are discussed and an Action Plan is devised to build the new reunited Cyprus. Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot citizens having years of bi-communal experience will come together with other less experienced but young, well educated and motivated individuals to share experiences and ideas as well as to generate their vision of the island.
The project was managed by Cyprus EU Association, which is headed by Ali Erel, in collaboration with Cyprus Intercultural Training Initiative (CITI), which is a body of facilitators created by members of the Cyprus Conflict Resolution Trainers Group, and Institute for 21st Century Agoras, the international body of Structured Democratic Dialogue Process scientists and practitioners. Cyprus EU Association assigned Derya Beyatli as overall project manager and Ilke Dagli as project coordinator for the implementation of all project activities. Cyprus Intercultural Training Initiative assigned Tatjana Taraszow as assistant project coordinator, especially responsible for the organization, implementation, and dissemination of project activities in the southern part of Cyprus. Yiannis Laouris and Marios Michaelides co-founders of CITI assumed the role as main Structured Democratic Dialogue facilitators together with Aleco Christakis from Institute for 21st Century Agoras.
A series of Structured Democratic Dialogue Process co-laboratories (workshops), seminars and other public events were implemented throughout the project's duration.
Structured dialogues aiming at the revival of the peace process
The first dialogue aimed at the diagnosis of the problématique: SDDP Civil Society Dialogue Obstacles.
Dates: 20th October, 28th November, 28th December 2006
Venue: Cyprus EU Association, Nicosia
Using the Structured Dialogic Design Process as methodology in the co-laboratories, the participants were asked the following triggering question:
“What Factors contribute to the widening gap between the two communities in Cyprus?”
Different ideas were generated by participants contributing from different backgrounds and perspectives, then clustered and prioritized. Prioritization took place by voting, then the ideas that received the most votes were selected and explored further and the relationship between the factors was discussed. Finally, the participants came up with a root cause map indicating the underlying causes for the widening gap between the two sides. The results of this dialogue were published in an article.
The second dialogue aimed at the identification of goals and opportunities to overcome the gap: SDDP Civil Society Dialogue Options.
Dates: 10th-11th March 2007
Venue: Forest Park Hotel, Platres
Using the same process, the participants were asked the following triggering question:
“In the context of the overall objective of bridging the gap between the two communities: What short- to medium term goals in your opinion if achieved would contribute significantly to the above objective?”
Participants met in Forest Park Hotel over the weekend spending 12 hours together for the residential co-laboratory. Once again, idea generation, clustering and prioritization took place. The ideas that received the most votes were selected and explored further where the relationship between the ideas was discussed. Finally, the participants came up with a root cause map portraying the goals and opportunities which can be utilized for bridging the gap between the two sides. Participants interpreted all the results and with the assistance of the facilitation team prepared a final report.
Structured dialogues to study Economic Integration
The third dialogue aimed at Economic Integration in Cyprus. Dates: 3rd July, 10th July, 27th July 2007 Venues: Holiday Inn, Saray Hotel, Fulbright Centre, Nicosia
Using the same process, the participants were asked the three triggering questions in order to idealize the current situation, diagnose the problems, and design an action plan:
“With the aim of economic integration, what are the benefits (opportunities) for Cyprus, of free movement of goods and services within Cyprus and the EU?”
“With the aim of economic integration; what are the obstacles including perceived threats in achieving free movement of goods and services within Cyprus and the EU?”
“With the aim of economic integration: what actions should be taken to overcome the obstacles and to reap the benefits in achieving free movement of goods and services?”
Participants had three sessions of 3 hours where they generated ideas, voted and drew a root cause map for each particular triggering question. The results of the final session, which was dedicated for designing an action plan, was then used to develop 5 other project drafts. Participants interpreted all the results and with the assistance of the facilitation team prepared a final report.
Structured dialogues aiming at Famagusta Revival
The fourth dialogue aimed at studying the situation of Famagusta/Varosha. Dates: 10th November, 17th November, 4th December, 8th December 2007, 30th January 2008, 13th March 2008 Venue: Venus Beach Hotel, Famagusta; Lordos Beach Hotel, Larnaka; Fulbright Centre, Nicosia
Using the SDD process, the participants were asked the three triggering questions in order to idealize the current situation, diagnose the problems and design an action plan:
“What are descriptors of an ideal model of Famagusta/Varosha, a place of interaction, communication and cooperation of Greek and Turkish Cypriot Famagustians to serve as an example for a future united Cyprus and to act as a catalyst for solving the Cyprus problem?”
“What are obstacles that prevent us from achieving the ideal model of Famagusta/Varosha?”
“What are action options, which if we adopt and implement, we will overcome the obstacles and achieve the ideal image of Famagusta/Varosha?”
Participants had six sessions of approximately 3-4 hours where they generated ideas, voted and designed root cause and influence maps for each particular triggering question. Participants interpreted all the results and with the assistance of the facilitation team prepared a final report.
Structured dialogues aiming at Cypriots' Voice
The fifth dialogue aimed at supporting the socio-political group Cypriots' Voice. Dates: 7th-8th June 2008 Venue: Venus Beach Hotel, Famagusta
Using the SDD process, the participants were asked the two triggering questions in order to diagnose the problems and design an action plan:
“What are the obstacles that prevent us/Cypriots' Voice from reaching our ideal organisation and our objectives of the declaration and to fulfill our vision?”
“What specific action plan / action tools could the organisation / Cypriot's Voice adopt in order to overcome the diagnosed obstacles to fulfill its vision?”
Participants met over the weekend spending 12 hours together for the residential co-laboratory where they generated ideas, voted and designed root cause and influence maps for each particular triggering question. Participants interpreted all the results and with the assistance of the facilitation team prepared a final report.
Training of local SDDP Facilitators
Two different kinds of training sessions were organized and implemented: 1) Structured Dialogic Design Process (SDDP) Facilitator Training and 2) Wiki Training.
1) SDDP Facilitator Training
Date: 13th-16th April, 7th May 2007
Venue: Cyprus Neuroscience & Technology Institute, Nicosia
The Civil Society Dialogue project organized several sessions of facilitator trainings for the Structured Dialogic Design Process. The first training session, which was held in April 2007, was given by Dr. Aleco Christakis who is one of the founding fathers of the methodology. The second session was organized in May 2007, which mostly focused on using CogniScope software - a specifically designed software for conducting SDDP. Facilitator trainees simulated a co-laboratory during the first training and played the roles of participant as well as facilitator, whereas in the second training they explored the software and formed their facilitation groups (cohorts).
Program of first session
Program of second session
2) Wiki Training
Date: 4th December 2007
Venue: Cyprus Neuroscience & Technology Institute
The Civil Society Dialogue project organized an open to public Wiki training for teaching the participants how to set up and utilize free online portals like Wikis efficiently and effectively for different projects.
Article Using Wikis for SDD by Christakis & Underwood
Public Lectures and Seminars
- During his visits to Cyprus, Aleco Christakis delivered two public lectures with the title The Technology of Democracy on 16th April 2007 and on 11th July 2007 both at the Fulbright Center on the methodology and technology of democracy.
- Gary Gumpert and Susan J. Drucker, two very prominent professors in media communications and technologies offered a seminar at Fulbright Center on media literacy with the title Reading the News between the lines during their visit to Cyprus on 11th July 2007.
Symposia and Conventions
An Environmental Symposium was organized on the 12th January 2008 at Colony Hotel in Keryneia. Together with the KTMMOB Chamber of Environmental Engineers, the Civil Society Dialogue project organized an environmental symposium with the aim of bringing together environmental groups from both communities. This event provided an opportunity for leading non-governmental Cypriot organizations to point out alarming environmental problems Cypriots are facing as well as raising awareness of environmental issues and calling for action from all Cypriots to work together in facing this global crisis. The selected Cypriot environmental NGOs who participated in the event, presented their papers on specific environmental issues with the objective of building an “environmentally friendly community”.
- Terra Cypria: "Sustainable Nature and Wild Life" presented by Lyndon Taylor
- Chamber of Environmental Engineers: "Construction Boost" presented by Ibrahim Alkan
- Biologists Association: "Global Warming" presented by Hasan Sarpten
- Mediterranean Wind Association: "Karpazia Natural Park" unfortunately not presented
- Cans for Kids: "Waste Disposal" presented by Rosie Charalambous
- Friends of Karpaz: "There is no other Karpas" presented by Osman Kallaoglu
- University of Thessaloniki: "Global Warming: Myth or Fact?" presented by Evangelos Katsiambirtas
The Civil Society Dialogue Convention took place on 12th April 2008 at Hilton Park Hotel in Nicosia. The partners of the project and the participants from various events presented results and findings from all Civil Society Dialogue Project events, trainings and co-laboratories aimed at developing a vision for a common future in a re-united Cyprus.
- Laouris, Y., Taraszow, T., Damdelen, M., Dagli, I., Beyatlı, D., Karayiannis,, A., Dye, K. & Christakis, A. (2015). Examining Economic Integration and Free Trade within Cyprus using Structured Dialogic Design. ALARj, 21(1).
- Laouris, Y., Erel, A., Michaelides, M,. Damdelen, M., Taraszow, T., Dagli, I., Laouri, R. and Christakis, A. (2009). Exploring options for enhancement of social dialogue between the Turkish and Greek communities in Cyprus using the Structured Dialogic Design Process. Systemic Practice and Action Research, 22, 361–381.
- Laouris, Y., Michaelides, M. Damdelen, M., Laouri, R., Beyatli, D., and Christakis, A. (2009). A systemic evaluation of the state of affairs following the negative outcome of the referendum in Cyprus using a structured design process. Systemic Practice and Action Research, 22, 45-75.