Marked by broken glass, sand bags, and abandoned buildings, the Green Line dividing Nicosia is a place out of time. One hundred twelve miles across and up to 4.6 miles wide, this barren strip has divided the Greek and Turkish sectors of the small Mediterranean island of Cyprus since 1964, when UN peacekeeping forces helped quell a violent conflict between the two communities. The force remains in Cyprus to this day. Described as “Paradise with a Problem” and graveyard for diplomatic initiatives, the reunification of Cyprus has been the goal of NATO, the EU, the UN, the United States and countless individual diplomats since the establishment of the Green Line in 1964.
As a public diplomacy officer, Judith Baroody sought to bring the people of the two sectors together through a range of initiatives: public dialogues, cultural events, and exchange programs bringing young leaders to the United states. She looks back on her time in Cyprus (1996-99) with a mixture of frustration and hope. The island remains divided—but people-to-people contacts also continue. In a long Foreign Service career, this was Baroody’s favorite assignment.
Judith Baroody joined the old United States Information Agency (USIA) in 1984, and transferred to the State Department when that agency was abolished in 1999. A self-described “Arabist” who primarily served in the Middle East, Judith’s career took her to Damascus during a period of political stability and relative religious tolerance (1985-86), to Tel Aviv with the formidable Ambassador Thomas Pickering (1986-88), and to Baghdad during wartime (2008-09). Just before retirement, Baroody served as the executive director of the Association for Diplomatic Studies & Training (2015-17).