Need to change mindset

Need to change mindset

The greatest obstacle for a resolution of the Cyprus problem is unfortunately the Greek Cypriot mindset: Whatever is good belongs to Greek Cypriots; whatever is bad is related to Turkish Cypriots, if not Turkey or both. Under no condition can Greek Cypriots be responsible for anything bad because they cannot do anything bad. That, of course, is not a normal psychological situation.

Years ago, speaking at his huge office with Archbishop Chrysostomos II of the Cyprus Church I could not stop myself but burst when he insisted in claiming that before 1974 Greeks and Turks were living in Cyprus together and happily but with the 1974 Turkish intervention the island and the “Cyprus nation” were brutally divided. “Was not there a 1963 bloody Christmas? Was not there Akritas plan? Did you not ever heard of Diegenis? Did you know that as a Turkish boy living 10 miles away from sea I saw sea for the first time when I was 11? Where were you when EOKA hordes were vanishing Turkish Cypriot men they arbitrarily arrested at checkpoints?” He of course accused me of talking in “Denktaş style” and continued claiming that all through his life, until 1974 and “even after with Ankara’s instruction Turks withdrew from the Cyprus Republic” he lived happily together with his Turkish Cypriot compatriots.

Many people might say the archbishop is a fascist in that he could make such nonsense remarks. On the contrary, he has always been saner than most other Greek Cypriot politicians. His approaches were reflective of the mental setup in the Greek Cypriot side. A Greek Cypriot cannot understand a Messaria (central plateau of Cyprus) boy seeing the orange groves of Morphou only after the area became Turkish in 1974. Nor can they understand how humiliated a Turkish Cypriot boy might feel seeing his mother and other female relatives “body searched” (just short of rape) ruthlessly by EOKA hordes at the checkpoints. 

Even at the climax of intercommunal tensions, Turkish Cypriot teachers were trying to avoid teaching hatred and revenge to Turkish Cypriot kids. When in 1993 Mehmet Ali Talat became education minister he even went extreme and dwarfed the Turkish Cypriot history book to few pages in the overall Turkish history course with the assumption that Greek Cypriots would do the same. The Church of Cyprus and the schools of Greek Cypriots remain the places where enmity toward Turks continues to be injected into Greek Cypriots.

Turkish Cypriots are not inferior creatures, Greek Cypriots must be lectured. Equality and an end to discrimination must be accepted by Greek Cypriots. As long as Greek Cypriot politics and Church continue the “We shall regain Varosha, Kyrenia and Morphou and kick Turks out of Cyprus” rhetoric, there will never be a settlement. As long as they continue the “We are the government, Turkish Cypriots are welcome to return to the Cyprus Republic” obsession and refuse to see the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus reality, there cannot be a settlement.

Now with offshore gas, Greek Cypriots dream of leaving crisis behind, ushering in a prosperous new era. They want to deny Turkish Cypriots of their share in gas. Typical of them. Is not the island a Greek island? Does not everything belong to them? Are not Turkish Cypriots just a pain in the neck that Greek Cypriots should get rid of? 

To change the mindset, perhaps textbooks should be rewritten on the Greek Cypriot side.