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Pre-negotiation and its Limits in Ethno-National Conflicts: A Systematic Analysis of Process and Outcomes in the Cyprus Negotiations

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The repeated failures of negotiation in ethno-national conflicts highlight the importance of studying the relationship between the pre-negotiation process and the results of the subsequent formal negotiations. This study examines various factors that contributed to a decision by adversaries to initiate official negotiations, and how these factors affected the prospects for a negotiated agreement. Furthermore, it suggests that certain elements in the pre-negotiation process portend the nature of the changes in the parties' political positions (tactical or strategic) and the parties' readiness to reach an agreement. An exploration is presented using a case study of the negotiations over the Cyprus conflict in 2004 which resulted in the ultimate rejection by the negotiating parties of the Annan Plan in late March of 2004. We examine the connection between the pre-negotiation process, from the end of 2003 until February 13, 2004, and the failure of the formal negotiations in March 2004. The analysis indicates that the deficient method and process of the pre-negotiations that took place regarding the Cyprus conflict determined the subsequent failure of the negotiations. The early detection of such factors in other negotiations over ethno-national conflicts may mitigate the causes that lead to failure, or perhaps assist in managing the process differently, so as to facilitate a more positive outcome.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Political Science & the Conflict Management and Negotiation Program, Bar- Ilan University, Israel;, Email:


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