Expecting tears from a dead eye
Metin Münir has always been a liberal and a very libertarian writer. He was an editor for Hürriyet Daily News. I always considered him as a well-respected colleague and an elder brother with whom I enjoyed discussing local and international political topics. Although most of the time, particularly on the Cyprus issue, we had confronting views. Daily News indeed might be the sole Turkey-based newspaper, though with almost thirty years in between, which had two Turkish Cypriot editors.
Münir no longer has a place in Turkish print media, as even his liberal views could no longer be tolerated by the current ruling elites. He is currently writing for the T-24 news portal. This week, he wrote an exceptionally important article that could shed light on the million dollar question on why we have not had a settlement for the Cyprus problem over the past half century. I will try to make a comprehensive and concise summary of the long article:
“There might be an impression that I do not want the reunion of Cyprus. But that is totally wrong. I am from the last generation to have lived together with Greeks. During my childhood, my Greek was far better than my Turkish. I grew up in Nicosia’s Yeni Cami Street, together with Greek kids. I ate Easter cakes cooked by our Greek neighbor in Arapköy. I have been to the stadium, which is now a car park on the Greek side, to watch goals scored into Greek nets by the footballer Cipsi. I collected photos of Greek and Turkish football players and gave them out with chewing gums. I drank Brandy Sour at fiestas.
That shared life, however, cracked in 1955 after Greek Cypriots, in hopes of uniting the island with Greece [Enosis], started the EOKA campaign against the British colonial rule.
In 1963, it broke up into thousands of pieces after Greek Cypriots launched an ethnic cleansing campaign against Turkish Cypriots.
And in 1974, with Turkish soldiers landing on Cyprus and dividing the island into two, the shared life vanished.
Over the more than four decades that passed since then, except their commitment to their island, almost nothing was left from the commonalities that Turks and Greeks used to share once upon a time in Cyprus.
Now, I go to the Greek Cypriot side, walk in the streets where I spent my childhood, but find myself very much like a tourist wandering around a hostile territory.
The streets where I felt like a ‘fish in the water’ have become alien to me.
The memories of my childhood and early youth have now left me.
After not practicing much of it, my Greek has rusted.
Once broken, some things cannot be repaired.
After all that has happened, could it be possible that Armenians would return and live the very same old lives they used to with Turks in Anatolia now? Could the Jews return to Germany? Could America belong to the Native Americans again?
Greeks and Turks have gone separate ways in 1974. The difference between them, which always worked in favor of the Greeks, grew deeper.
To expect a result from the talks continuing in Switzerland, as a friend had said, is like expecting tears to come out of the eyes of a dead man.
The federation that Greeks believe it will have will never be accepted by Turkish Cypriots. The federation that is wanted by Turkish Cypriots will never be accepted by the Greeks. Turkish Cypriots will never give up Turkey and Greek Cypriots will never accept to give up the Cyprus Republic.
Now, Turkish Cypriots must buy their souls back from the devil.
What to understand from this ‘mission impossible’ style Cyprus talks? Most of the lands in northern Cyprus originally belonged to Greek Cypriots. Why do Greek Cypriots still dream of getting back their old lands and properties one day? Either the properties of Greeks should be returned or Turks should buy the Greek properties.
There are of course some Greeks and Turks who would like to live together, but they are a very small minority,” Münir had written.