New start needed for Cyprus talks
There are people that have persistently been stressing for the past many decades that there cannot be a Cyprus settlement in talks under U.N. auspices as long as the two negotiating partners are not treated equally. Saying the talks were conducted on the basis of equality of the participants was proved over the past so many rounds of futile talks to be as valid as expecting a dead man to compete in the Olympics.
A resolution put forward by the Greek Cypriot parliament to include in commemoration days in schools the anniversary of the 1950 “Enosis” (union with Greece) plebiscite angered Turkish Cypriots who considered the move as “hostile and incompatible with the spirit of negotiations for a federal resolution.” Why was it a hostile move? Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiades could not comprehend the sensitivity of Turkish Cypriots over the issue when he said this week: “What correction should I make? Can I correct the history?” This comment definitely was not a statement conducive to his claim that he wanted the talks to resume immediately. Was it not because of that Enosis obsession of the Greek Cypriots that ended with Turkish Cypriots suffering so much up until Turkey’s 1974 intervention?
The Enosis plebiscite was carried out in 1950. In 1952 with a commander from Greece the “Ethniki Organosis Kyprion Agoniston” or the “Ethnic Organization of Cypriot Fighters [EOKA]” gang was established. In the next few years, some 100 British nationals and 100 Turkish Cypriots were killed, the island was terrorized. The aim was union with Greece and both the British colonial governance and the Turkish Cypriot community were considered as targets. In 1960, the island became an independent state with an effective federation of the two founding communities, the Greeks and the Turks. As the aim was to get rid of the Turks and unite the island with Greece, up until the 1974 Turkish intervention, put aside the many Greek Cypriots killed during the July 15, 1974 coup, 200 children, 124 women of all ages, 706 men aged between 19 and 45, 268 men over the age of 45, which makes it 1298 Turkish Cypriots mercilessly massacred in that 11-year period.
Anastasiades, of course, cannot make correction to historical facts. But, he surely can apologize for what was done to Turkish Cypriots instead of shyly and discreetly lending support to efforts to brainwash young brains in schools as if Enosis and EOKA did anything praiseworthy. He, at least, should look at the practice in Northern Cyprus. For the sake of not poisoning kids with nationalist obsessions and hatred against Greek Cypriots, text books were rewritten in such a radical approach that unfortunately the history of the traumatic recent past of Cyprus was limited to less than a 20-page section in history books.
There is definitely a problem with the mentality. Not only the latest Enosis commemoration legislation pioneered by the fascist ELAM, there is a pending draft proposed by the socialist AKEL for the commemoration of the 1931 uprising by the supporters of Enosis. There also are the 1964 and 1967 enosis legislations.
If Anastasiades is sincere in his readiness to resume talks, he should prove it by starting a process of declaring all those hostile legislations null and void and convince AKEL to withdraw the pending draft. Can he do that? Such an act will not be an effort to rewrite history but rather will be a move to write a new and promising history of common existence in peace and tranquility of the two people who consider Cyprus their common homeland.
Just rescinding such hostile legislation, unfortunately, will not be enough to achieve progress either as it was demonstrated vividly that there is a serious mental anomaly in accepting federalism or differentiating federalism from unitary state. The effort in Cyprus has never been one to revive the 1960 partnership state killed by the Greek Cypriots in 1963. Yes, the title of the Republic of Cyprus is still used by Greek Cypriots but that is not the 1960 state. Now, we have to establish a new partnership, which should not be a unitary state. If Anastasiades and the Greek Cypriot side still think an American, German or such style of federation might be acceptable for Turkish Cypriots, they should look into the recent past of the island and think again whether that was a possibility under the bitter realities of the common past of the two people of the island?
The talks should be based on a new and realistic base rather than the state-and-minority format continuing since the 1968 start of intercommunal talks. As long as the Greek Cypriots believe they are the state and Turkish Cypriots a minority demanding some additional rights, they cannot agree to political equality of the two people. Without political equality, on the other hand, there can be no Cyprus settlement.