Meltem Burak: Peace can only be sustainable if it is diverse and inclusive

18 Jan 2022

Meltem Burak: Peace can only be sustainable if it is diverse and inclusive

Meltem Burak is a creative young Cypriot from Famagusta, who believes that “peace can only be sustainable if it is diverse and inclusive where women and young people’s voices are heard at the peace talks’ table”.

Meltem emphasises that “so far, mostly, if not only, men have been involved in the negotiation rounds. This exclusive and patriarchal approach to peacebuilding has never been sustainable, which is why a peace agreement has never been reached.” 

Last year she participated in the "peacebuilding in divided societies" programme, organized by UNFICYP Civil Affairs Section, which held the last workshop on 10 January 2022. For her, "the workshops organized by the UN help prepare youth and women to be active participants in the upcoming peace processes whether at a political, social or cultural level.”

Sharing her experience about the programme, Meltem notes that she has realised “the difficulty of negotiations, particularly when political interests are at stake”. 

When asked about what was the most interest part of the workshop, she recalls: “the simulation has proven useful for me to understand the challenges of negotiation. It was very hard to listen to all parties’ interests and try to come up with a reasonable and sustainable outcome within the goals of the UN. However, it was certainly worth the experience. As a result, I learnt to be more communicative and constructive when dealing with difficult parties and, I will apply what I have learnt in my professional and personal life,” she explains.

In addition, meeting participants from other communities living on the island was very interesting for Meltem, who also believes that such programmes play a great role in establishing a culture of peace in Cyprus.

The workshops were part of the “Peacebuilding in Divided Societies” programme, organised by UNFICYP in collaboration with the British High Commission and the British Council in Cyprus.

More than 40 young participants like Meltem took part in a negotiation simulation, with the support of Professor Hrach Gregorian from the Institute of World Affairs and other expert facilitators. The programme will continue this year with the ‘Young leaders in action: inclusion of women and youth in peacebuilding’ initiative from January to March.