The project “CSO Cooperation across Borders” is led by the CIES in partnership with Friedrich Ebert Shiftung, Istanbul. This project aims to support the triangular relationship between Greece, Turkey, and Cyprus (both communities) through its focus on strengthening the process of democratization, rule of law and civic engagement with the involvement of civil society experts from Cyprus, Greece and Turkey.

The idea is to bring together a core group of experts in a Task Force that meets in Istanbul, Athens, and Nicosia/Lefkosa with local civil society representatives and individuals to debate four key civil society themes: Civic Education, Gender, Youth, and Art/Culture and Heritage. These themes discussed in order to draft a report with policy recommendations on how to enhance cooperation. The first meeting was held in Istanbul on 11 February 2016. The second meeting held in Athens on 17 March 2016 and the last meeting was held in Nicosia/Lefkosa (April 2016).  The report will be drafted by the CIES in cooperation with the core group experts.



C. Elif Serbest is Director, Turkey Youth Union Association, Ankara.She studied geological engineering at Middle East Technical University and has been working in the youth sector as a youth worker, project coordinator, international trainer and training consultant for 12 years. Besides managing the youth NGO Turkey Youth Union Association, she has been working with children and young people from various backgrounds with different socio-economical disadvantages. She has designed several short and long term international youth projects mainly on social inclusion, active youth participation and youth policies in Turkey and worked as a key expert in long term EU projects. She has been invited as a trainer, advisor and speaker to the international events of the Council of Europe mainly dealing with the inclusion of youth with fewer opportunities. Since 2007 she has been focusing on mixed ability groups of young people, including a wide range of disability groups. She has expertise in designing inclusive and accessible trainings for the learning needs of different disability groups. As a disability rights advocate she has been actively involved in monitoring and advocacy work especially in the building capacity of CSOs and young people with regards to combatting discrimination on the basis of disability in Turkey.

C. Elif Serbest is also the managing partner of Atölye İnsan Training and Consultancy Co. and provides training and consultancy services to both the private and public sector. She is a fluent Turkish Sign Language user and has worked as a part-time lecturer at Cankaya University giving Basic Communication Skills in Turkish Sign Language and Deaf Culture as an elective course. She is currently a project coordinator in an EU-funded project on developing a qualified non-formal education methodology for deaf adults.



Stefanos Vallianatos is the coordinator of the Greek National Network of the Anna Lindh Foundation. He is also the co-founder of the Fotoessa Centre for Education, Research and Action. He holds a PhD from Lancaster University in the field of International Politics with special reference to the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean. He has taught Middle East Politics and History and Politics of the Balkans, at the International Centre for Hellenic and Mediterranean Studies, and frequently publishes, makes presentations, and comments on issues related to developments in the wider Middle East, and on Civil Society in the Arab world and the Mediterranean.

His most recent activities include the coordination of a capacity building project on Active Citizenship and Social Entrepreneurship (organized by the Anna Lindh Foundation and the Greek National Network of the Anna Lindh Foundation), the hosting and organization of the annual meeting of the Lazord Foundation Fellowship for NGO leaders, participation in NECE’s (Networking European Citizenship Education) preparatory meeting for its annual conference in Thessaloniki (in 2015), and joining NECE’s focus group on “Exchange between Europe and North Africa”. His latest publications: “Arab Civil Society at the Crossroad of Democratization: the Arab Spring Impact”, and “The leadership landscape in the Mediterranean basin”.



Maria Hadjipavlou is President of “Hands Across the Divide”; a Member of the Technical Committee for Gender Equality, Nicosia; and a co-founder of the Gender Advisory Team. She is a renowned expert in the fields of conflict resolution and feminism. She has promoted peace across the divide in Cyprus for the past thirty-five years. Widely published in the fields of conflict resolution, Cyprus and gender issues, Maria also conducts training in conflict resolution and gender awareness. Her book Women and Change in Cyprus: FeminismsGender and Conflict(I.B.Tauris, 2010) has become a reference book on women and Cyprus. She was the first academic to challenge bi-communality aspect of Cyprus politics and spoke of Cyprus as a multi-communal and multicultural island.

After 19 years she has retired as Associate Professor with the Social and Political Science Department of the University of Cyprus. She holds a PhD in Comparative Social and Political Change from Boston University (1987). She has been a post-doctoral research associate of the Harvard Program on International Conflict Analysis and Resolution (PICAR). She was co-founder (1997) of the Center of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at Columbia University, New York. She is a gender trainer for UNFPA and trained women in Afghanistan, Tunisia and Bratislava on gender and conflict resolution. She is a trainer for WINPEACE (Women’s Initiatives for Peace, Greece, Turkey and Cyprus) for students from the three countries on peace education and conflict resolution workshops.  She was a founding member and president for ten years of  the non-governmental organization, the  Cyprus Peace Center (1999-2009); a  founding member of the first independent Cypriot Women’s NGO, “Hands Across the Divide” (2001) and its current president; a co-founder of the Gender Advisory Team (GAT) in 2009 working on the implementation and integration of the  UNSC Resolution 1325 in the Cypriot negotiations; co-founder of the non-governmental organization, Cyprus Academic Dialogue; the Cypriots Voice, and many other organizations. She been appointed (2015) by the president of Cyprus as a member of the Gender Equality Technical Committee which advises on the integration of gender equality provisions in the future peace agreement and the new Federal Constitution.

The last four years she teaches in the Summer Term at Bogazici University in Istanbul.She also represented Cyprus in COST Action IS0805: New Challenges of Peacekeeping and the European Union’s Role in Multilateral Crisis Management. She is a member of various international academic associations and is often invited to give talks and present her work in other universities and international fora.


Ali Tuncay is the Co-President of the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage. He is a PhD Candidate at the International Cyprus University where his thesis topic is  “Preservation of of Cultural Heritage as a Catalyst for Reconciliation – The case of Cyprus”. He holds an MA and a BA in International Relations from Bilkent University. He worked with the Near East University and the Eastern Mediterranean University in 1996 and 1997; the Turkish Cypriot Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1997 to 1999; and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe from 1999 to 2003. He is currently a member of the Turkish Cypriot delegation in the dialogue between the religious leaders of Cyprus and the Co-President of the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage.


Assoc. Prof. Dimitrios Triantaphyllou is the Director of the Center for International and European Studies (CIES) at Kadir Has University and the Chair of the Department of International Relations at Kadir Has University. He holds a BA in Political Science and History from the University of California, Berkeley and a MA and PhD in International Relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He was previously Director General of the International Centre for Black Sea Studies (ICBSS) and Assistant Professor of International Relations at the University of the Aegean, Rhodes (2006-2010). He was also Special Advisor at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Republic (2004-2006); Senior Research Fellow at the Hellenic Observatory of the European Institute at the LSE (2003-2004); Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Security Studies of the European Union, Paris (2001-2003); Research Fellow at the Institute for Security Studies of the Western European Union, Paris (1999-2001); Deputy Director of the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP), Athens (1996-99); and Foreign Policy Advisor to a member of the European Parliament (1995). He has written and edited a number of books and articles pertaining to European security, developments in the Black Sea region and South-Eastern Europe, and Greek foreign policy. He is also Associate Editor of Southeast European and Black Sea Studies, a member of the Greek-Turkish Forum, and co-convener of the Commission on the Black Sea. He has a lifelong passion for civil society engagement.