Nicosia ready to develop cities forum
by Forum for Cities in Transition
20 April 2009
A delegation of senior councillors and community organisations from both the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities have taken part in a high level forum of cities in transition, in Boston, USA, from Tuesday, 14th to Thursday, 16th April.
Eleni Mavrou, Mayor of Nicosia, Councillor Soula Kolakidou, and former Mayor Lellos Demetriades, were joined by representatives of the Turkish-Cypriot community, Tolga Cagakan and Mustafa Akinci. Marios Michaelides, from the Cyprus Academy of Public Administration, was also part of the Nicosia delegation.
In all, 36 mayors, ministers, councillors, officials and non-governmental organisations from the cities of Derry/Londonderry (Northern Ireland), Nicosia (Cyprus), Mitrovica (Serbia/Kosovo) and Kirkuk (Iraq/Kurdistan) debated for three days the complex challenges that each divided cities have.
Mayor Mavrou said, “We were humbled by some of the stories we heard from the other cities and heartened by the spirit of resilience we observed.
“Even though the situation, the context, and the circumstances in each city are very different, I see significant opportunities for learning, for the benefit of all the citizens of our respective cities.
“As mayor I want to ensure our city is seen as a positive example of a city in transition, and I believe this newly established forum will contribute to this.”
Councillor Soula Kolakidou added, “Like Mayor Mavrou, attending this conference was a great experience. I appreciated how other cities are dealing with conflicts that are still very much alive today, where memories are painful and quite recent.
“From what I learned from the conference, from listening and sharing experiences with others, there were some simple and practical ideas that I would like us to consider applying in our own city.”
Marios Michaelides, whose has done much bi-communal work in Cyprus for over 15 years, said, “At this conference, the fact that we worked with local representatives from both Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities was particularly empowering.
“I always enjoy working with Turkish-Cypriot friends on meaningful and energising projects, and this initiative should prove especially rewarding.”
Speaking afterwards, Mayor Mavrou and Councillor Kolakidou said, “We recognise the benefits sharing experiences and exchanging best practices, between our communities in Cyprus and among other cities in transition.
“We are committed to participating in future projects, through an established forum. We would like to explore the possibility of hosting a future forum conference, with the right partners, in our city.”
The conference, “Divided Cities: Common and Uncommon”, was convened by Padraig O’Malley, the John Joseph Moakley Distinguished Professor of Peace and Reconciliation at UMass Boston’s McCormack Graduate School of Policy Studies.
After introductory plenary sessions, the agenda for the remainder of the conference was led and determined by the conference delegates themselves. The conference ended with a public panel discussion on Thursday, 16 April, at the UMass Boston.
The conference was created through a partnership with the American Ireland Fund, with sponsorship from Robert and JoAnn Bendetson, the Connors Family Fund, the Doubletree Hotel Bayside, the Institute for Global Leadership at Tufts University, the John Joseph Moakley Archive and Institute at Suffolk University, Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences at UMass Boston, the University of Massachusetts system, the University of Massachusetts Boston, the University of Massachusetts Lowell, and William Monroe Trotter Institute at UMass Boston.