The actions within the Youth Network framework aim to encourage and inspire the youth of Cyprus to actively participate in the efforts for a peaceful solution of the Cyprus problem, and in the medium to long-term to become active concerned citizens of a united and sustainable Cyprus. Over a period of two years, this project will implement a well-orchestrated set of activities to actively engage youth in peace building, to empower and support the youth to play an active role in the reconciliation process and to build and strengthen the necessary support structures for them to continue in youth activism. The project will target youth as well as youth leaders and teachers. Activities will cover research on youth opinions and attitudes, media outreach and communication tools, summer camps and festivals for different age groups, exchange visits, workshops to promote activism, debates and a youth parliament as well as comprehensive training programmes and a communications and outreach strategy including the development of an island wide action plan on the role of youth in peace building.
The current political climate in Cyprus makes the proposed project that inspires youth activism of utmost importance. The impending/expected decisions regarding peace in Cyprus will create great political and social change, and Cyprus needs able and informed youth activists to partake in this transition. The proposed project will prepare youth activists for this moment. Over the past years, some youth organizations have been involved in peace-building activities and have granted large number of young Cypriots the opportunity to meet their peers from the ‘other’ side, to engage in new friendships, learn about each others’ views, perspectives, fears and hopes, and to jointly participate in peace activities. However, an even larger number of young people are currently disengaged from bi-communal activities or other peace building initiatives and from important social and environmental issues generally. Though 76% of the Greek Cypriots and 69% of the Turkish Cypriots support the idea of young people from both communities to meet and discuss the future of Cyprus, still less than 87% of the Greek Cypriots and 90% of the Turkish Cypriots have ever met! It is important to note that from those that had some contact with the people from the other community there is a general positive feeling (UNFICYP survey 2007). There is an emerging need for the Cypriot youth to get involved and take ownership for a peaceful, just and sustainable future for the island. Youth organizations need to reach out to the disengaged and need to provide them with opportunities to contribute to a change and to participate in peace-building activities. Youth organizations on both sides of the ‘green line’ need to work closely together and strengthen their network so as to ensure a holistic approach towards engaging youth and to be able to successfully respond to the young people’s needs.