Cyprus, located in the eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, north of Egypt and west of Syria, has been divided by a patrolled UN buffer zone since 1974, with Turkish-speaking Muslims on the north and Greek-speaking Christians on the south. The Cyprus Friendship Program (CFP) brings together teenagers from both Cypriot communities to promote peaceful interaction and understanding between the two groups. CFP is a two year peace-building and leadership training program in Cyprus, with a four week component in the United States in the summer. By developing cross-cultural friendships, the teens build mutual respect for each other, breaking down the historical stereotypes and mistrust that exist. Upon return to Cyprus, the teens are in a position to share the message with family and friends of their own communities that Greek-speaking and Turkish-speaking Cypriots can live together peacefully. Indeed, many of the students who have participated in the program are doing just that – working together for peace.
The Cyprus Friendship Programme is the volunteer organization in Cyprus that works with the CFP teens throughout the year. The CFP Cypriot Coordinators provide the ongoing leadership and peace-building training. They work tirelessly, providing the CFP teens opportunities to promote peace through bi-communal activities, media broadcasts and group presentations to various audiences on both sides of the divide.
The efforts in Cyprus have broadened to include the creation of the CFP Parents and Friends Association, an organization of parents, friends and extended families of CFP teens that aides in fund-raising and in the development of bi-communal events for adults. A CFP Alumni Association works with the Parents and Friends Association as well. The relationships formed through CFP continue through the years and the CFP family has grown exponentially since its founding in 2009.