While 2020 is becoming history...
Probably 2020 will not be a year that will be remembered by the vast majority of humanity with many good memories. Surely, there have been some very good events in 2020. Many achievements were made in 2020. Yes, the COVID-19 pandemic has not yet ended up being a catastrophe that has cost the lives of our loved ones as well as brought about social and economic consequences globally. However, the completion of not only two, three but dozens of successful vaccine studies in just a few months, filling us with amazement and surprise against this great epidemic, is no less than a saga that will be celebrated and remembered as a sign of humanity’s determination to cling on despite all odds.
The presidential election in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), for example, closed the term of a defeatist president. It was definitely a development that is ought to be celebrated. The new president can be criticized today for not being fully responding to expectations. It’s normal. However, in my opinion, it would be healthier to give time before a positive or negative comment. Of course, when he makes a decision that might not be appreciated much by his supporters, he should be criticized. In any case, the burial of Mustafa Akıncı in the ballot box, who preferred to develop empathy rather than serving the people who elected him to the office, was worth remembering as a major positive event.
We didn’t realize it. On Dec. 27, citizens were started to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in many EU countries. The number of people vaccinated is very low for now, and probably a considerable time, possibly months, might be required before a sufficient rate of vaccination and antibody development in people reached the targeted 60 percent or more levels. Yet, the start of simultaneous vaccination in EU member states had a symbolic meaning: We are one, we are together, we will walk together for a better and safer tomorrow. I wish that Turkey, the TRNC, could be walking together with our European friends for common norms, values and standards, democratic institutions and the supremacy of justice, and the principles that state that everyone is equal before justice.
However, it was a symmetrical, beautiful figure where two and two zeros came together in 2020. Who knows that in how many countries couples work hard to arrange their wedding ceremonies on days consisting of only twos and zeros. Surely, in the future, as humanity always does, they will put aside bad memories and the tough times faced and try to remember 2020 with those beautiful moments they experienced. Besides, as I just said, the epidemic isn’t over yet. It is not yet exactly clear what the success of the vaccines will be. “Who can get me vaccinated? I have the freedom not to be vaccinated,” and such ignorance will, of course, create problems. Ignorance enforced with vanity, arrogance and selfishness has always been a serious problem. Just a few days ago, some people protested against the new measures enforced to fight the pandemic -- held parties at beaches and private villas. They were of the opinion that by doing so they are demonstrating their determination not to surrender to dictate. Nonsense. Sheer spoiled arrogance.
Though, I’ll tell say that a new world has been born. Okay, maybe many people in Turkey and abroad, will not accept the “Life Fits Home” (HES) application, which works like a “big brother” that help the authorities to digitally monitor people, their health status, and such personal data as part of the efforts to fight the pandemic. Yet, maybe we will all get used to these new measures and gadgets together. In this new world, the chips in our passports will include our personal information, including our vaccination status and our medical history. We’ve had our lives waiting for a visa-free world, but from now on, no one should expect uncontrolled travel as some countries are already considering the requirement to demand vaccination records for visa procedures.
In fact, as someone whose personal rights and freedoms have been squeezed between electronic communication and the four windows of the house for almost 10 months, and who can go to the office with strict measures every once in a while, I would not even think to object to the security measures to be taken, or even the necessity of vaccination cards on trips. To leave this period behind us, perhaps most people would accept similar compromises without giving it a second thought.
The year 2021 will also be a difficult year-- Libya, Syria, separatist terrorism issues, the crisis with the United States that does not fit into the allied relationship spirit, the threat of sanctions from the European Union, and the eastern Mediterranean and Cyprus problem.
Obviously, it’s time to stop for a second and make a “What are we doing?” assessment. For example, it is already clear that as early as mid-January, exploratory talks will start, and in February or so, a new Cyprus process will kick off with a five-plus-one Cyprus summit, participated by Turkey, Greece, and Britain (the three guarantor powers – the two communities on Cyprus and the U.N. secretary-general). I don’t suppose it’s any longer valid to say that Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side will sit such a process with the mentality of “one step ahead” or “we won’t be the one to get off the table.” I hope 2021 will be a better year.