Is the Cyprus crisis over?
“I won’t play… They have taken my toy.” The weeping of Greek Cyprus leader Nikos Anastasiades has been soothed for now and the two leaders will resume their social encounters by coming together at a June 2 International Children’s Day event at the Nicosia buffer zone with the participation of children and young people from the Greek and Turkish halves of the eastern Mediterranean island.
A Turkish saying underlines that “every day is a holiday for the fool.” Why is it so? Don’t fools take life seriously, or are they cleverer than the rest that they manage to find something to celebrate every day? Anyhow, it is great to see one of those abundant international days declared to mark something serve a purpose. The June 2 event was programmed by a bi-communal committee hastily created last year after a group of 15-16-year-old Greek Cypriots protesting the anniversary celebration of the proclamation in 1983 of the Turkish republic of Northern Cyprus attacked Turkish Cypriots and their cars on Nov. 15. The bi-communal committee and its perpetrators hoped that if they brought together children and young people from the two sides and provided them with an opportunity to play together they might forget animosity, enhancing an atmosphere of bi-communal friendship on the island.
Naturally such efforts must be encouraged with a “better than nothing” understanding and a firm belief that getting to know each other should start with such modest steps. Yet, it should not be forgotten either that with Greek Cypriot children coming together with their age Turkish children one day in a year while all through the previous 364 days bashing with “barbaric Turks” or “the best Turk is a dead Turk” animosity propaganda or an obsession that Greeks are the owners of the island but “bello Turks” (crazy Turks) came 500 years ago and forgot to leave the “land of the Helens,” no confidence building measure can help. After all, to help improve confidence, there must be some confidence to serve as a basis. In between the two peoples of Cyprus no one can talk of any residue of old friendship as there has never been intercommunal friendship, though on an individual basis there have been some very strong bonds, even mixed marriages. Perhaps Cyprus peacemaking must start from that point instead of deciduous talks continuing on and off for the past half century, since 1968. In the absence of confidence, can any political resolution package work on Cyprus? Absolutely not.
Were not the Greek Cypriot hordes attacking Muratağa (Maratha), Atlılar (Aloda) and Sandallar (Santalaris) on Aug. 14, 1974, the neighbors of Turkish Cypriots? How could neighbors attack some other neighbors, indiscriminately decapitate, dismember, murder in cold blood or bury alive just because of differences of religion, ethnicity or language? Mass murders in those three villages were not the only trauma Turkish Cypriots suffered because of Greek Cypriot denial of their existence, leave alone their demand for political equality. Nicos Sampson, a journalist-turned terrorist well documented in British criminal records, was the butcher of Küçük Kaymaklı (Omorphita) when Bloody Christmas got underway in the early hours of Dec. 21, 1963. Why was he chosen as the leader of the 1974 Athens-engineered coup, coincidence or a demonstration of continued determination to annihilate all Turkish Cypriots from the island?
The past is past of course. No one should live in the past, or allow himself to be buried in history books. But, don’t we need to see some efforts from the Greek Cypriot side demonstrating that they not only realized and are very sorry for the great harm, atrocities they committed on Turkish Cypriots but that they want to build a new common house with sufficient security mechanisms to prevent such mishaps from happening again? Well, Greek Cypriots keep on trying to date the Cyprus problem to the July 20, 1974, Turkish intervention. The 1974 intervention of Turkey, however, was a by-product of the Cyprus problem that was created by the Greek Cypriots at least back in the Dec. 21, 1963, attacks on Turkish Cypriots. 1974 was traumatic for the Greek Cypriots. The 1960 guarantee scheme and Turkey’s guarantee might be unacceptable for Greek Cypriots. In view of what they lived through in 1974, they might be right in their obsessive objection to the Turkish guarantee. Yet, they must show some empathy to the Turkish Cypriots who were attacked, butchered, mercilessly killed or expelled from their homeland by hordes and even today are subjected to an inhumane international blockade by a government that shamelessly still claims its jurisdiction covers Turkish Cypriot areas as well. Can Turkish Cypriots agree to give up Turkey’s guarantee?
Anastasiades was comforted by the U.N. secretary-general that the U.N. recognized the Greek Cypriot-occupied Cyprus government as the only government on the island and agreed to return to talks. Anastasiades cannot, however, represent Turkish Cypriots. He cannot speak for Turkish Cypriots. That is why we have the Cyprus problem, which in essence is a power sharing problem between the two peoples of the island. All other aspects of the problem, including property and security, are of course important but secondary issues. Does Anastasiades consider Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı his political equal?
Right, let us bring the kids and the grown up kids to play together hoping that tomorrow they may grow up in awareness of the principle of equality… Good luck.