Law student talks peace with divided Cyprus
The young barrister and solicitor is meeting Cypriot President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat to discuss the prospect of peace in their divided land.
“It is going to be a strange experience visiting a divided European capital,” says Mr Marten, who in 2006 graduated LLB and BA (Honours), and embarks on his Masters of Law at Cambridge University in October.
He and the other 28 young delegates from the Commonwealth get to take a tour along the Green Line, a United Nations area separating the north and south of Cyprus, with UN peacekeepers. The students will also participate in workshops with the UN Development Programme and the British Council.
“Coming from New Zealand it is difficult to imagine a place where people are living together on the same small island, but within two completely different political contexts separated by just a thin strip of UN-controlled land,” Mr Marten says.
Approaching his visit with a completely open mind, he says he is conscious of his lack of knowledge.
“I want to study and observe the two communities’ attitudes to their conflict up close.”
Cyprus, a former British colony, gained independence in 1960 and is occupied by Greek Cypriots and Turks.
The Turkish occupied area in the north is called the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and is not recognised by the UN.
Mr Marten says he is looking forward to meeting people of different backgrounds, especially the delegates from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean, “who are likely to have faced some challenges while growing up that I can only imagine”.
Conflict and Beyond is also called Nkabom 2008 – meaning “coming together” in the Ghanaian language of Twi.
The programme is organised by the Royal Commonwealth Society and runs from September 14 to 21 in Nicosia. The Royal Commonwealth Society International Meeting takes place in Cyprus the following week.