Elizabeth Prodromou, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Boston University

Event Date: 
Sunday, April 14, 2002 - 13:45

"Partition versus Patriotism: Evaluating the Choices for Cyprus," the second Nicholas C. Petris Lecture Series The point of departure for Prodromou's talk was the fact that the persistence of acute violence and instability in international relations after the Cold War has contributed to a paradox in scholarly and policy responses designed to prevent or resolve communal conflict. Specifically, notwithstanding a rhetorical, if not practical, commitment to democracy, peace building, and global integration, scholars and policymakers have demonstrated an increasing preference towards partition as a preferred option in preventive action or post-conflict peace building in cases of communal violence. The case of Cyprus speaks directly to this paradox. Indeed, the current discussions between leaders of the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities on the island are occurring against the backdrop of a United Nations plan for a bizonal, bicommunal, federal Cyprus that is moving quickly towards full membership in the EU's first post-Cold War enlargement. Yet, concurrently, a political solution to the island's 28-year division following the Turkey's invasion in 1974 remains elusive; the government of Cyprus, led by President Glafkos Clerides, supports the UN plan, while Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, with Ankara's support, continues to demand a two-state solution. Against the above backdrop, Prodromou presented Cyprus as a critical case study for evaluating the merits of partition theory versus democratic federalism as competing solutions for building stable security environments in post-conflict conditions, particularly in regions of broad geo-strategic importance to global peace. Analysis of the Cyprus case proceeded in three parts. First, Prodromou summarized and critiqued the logic of partition theory, particularly in terms of the claim that partition arrangements lead to homogenous states that are, therefore, less prone to conflict and, consequently, more likely to democratize successfully. Second, constitutional federalism was explored in detail as an alternative to partition. In this sense, Prodromou's main argument was that a federal Cyprus must be supported by a Habermasian concept of democratic citizenship that balances the liberal, individual rights of political participation with the social and cultural rights of the group. By way of conclusion, Prodromou sketched some ideas for concrete steps towards the goal of building a democratic, federal Cyprus constituted by a nation of citizens. Prodromou suggested that EU and Cypriot leaders from all communities should consider, through programs of harmonization and devolution, two main areas of restructuring: first, the revision of pedagogical methods, textbooks, and curriculum, and second, the development of a rigorous regulatory environment for the mass media. In both cases, structural revisions are necessary to optimize the possibilities that a federal, democratic Cyprus can evolve in a manner that allows all citizens of Cyprus, regardless of communal identity, to participate in public life in ways that bring new authorship to the meaning of the nation in Cyprus in the 21st century. Dr. Elizabeth Prodromou is the Associate Director of the Institute on Religion and World Affairs at Boston University, where she also teaches in the Department of International Relations. Dr. Prodromou holds a Ph.D. in political science from the M.I.T. She has taught at Princeton, Harvard and Tufts Universities. Dr. Prodromou is a regional expert on Southeastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. Her scholarship and policy work focuses on religion and international relations, nationalism and conflict resolution, democracy and religious change, culture and international security. She is active in public policy, and has worked with numerous government, and international institutions. Dr. Prodromou is also Executive Director at the Cambridge Foundation for Peace, and Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University in the Kennedy School of Government. This event was co-sponsored by the Modern Greek Studies Foundation