Who is responsible?
Reading sometimes becomes very tiring. Nazım Beratlı is a Turkish Cypriot medical doctor, journalist, author, researcher and historian. Most of the time I disagree with what he writes, but I love reading his work as I, I must confess, learn a lot from him. In a recent article on the flood in Northern Cyprus last week which claimed the lives of four young people and devastated the recently completed new Kyrenia-Nicosia highway, he wrote that even in “Excerpta cypria,” by Claude Delaval Cobham published in 1908, it was claimed that Cypriots were ignorant and lazy people who had the habit of putting the blame of whatever that went wrong on someone else.
For a change, Beratlı said, Turkish Cypriots must embrace the responsibility of what they did, stop the ignorance, and admit that the natural disaster came because riverbeds and valleys were filled with concrete housing. The recently completed Kyrenia-Nicosia road – which was partly devastated by the flood – was constructed with insufficient drainage. I must add that roads were constructed without getting an environmental impact report – required by the law – from the Chamber of Architects.
Four young people, two young women and two young men, were killed in the flood. The bodies of three of them were found within hours after they lost their lives, while the fourth was buried under two-meter debris. Rescue teams managed to find her remains after a two-day search. It must be an immense pain for their families, relatives and friends. Such pain should not be exploited for political purposes.
Although the participation of Greek Cypriot ruling Democratic Rally Party (Disi) leader Averof Neophytou in the funeral of the three young people must be appreciated. Also, calls for a probe into the disaster and parliamentary investigation into why city plans were so grossly ignored as well as People’s Party (HP) leader and Foreign Minister Kudret Özersay’s assertion that the government must seriously reconsider environmental protection and city planning legislations were all steps in the right direction.
However, a review of remarks of the politicians, particularly those of the current and past prime ministers, demonstrated that it was as if some aliens were in executive seats in Northern Cyprus and these gentlemen were faultless. Beratlı was right. All our political friends were of the opinion that some other people, not themselves, were responsible for the gross ignorance and villainous orders allowing constructions on riverbeds and valleys. The Chamber of Architects, likewise, came up with a complaint after the disaster that the new Kyrenia-Nicosia highway was constructed without anyone getting a report from them that the plans complied with the construction rules and sufficient drainage was considered.
It was the first-ever natural disaster in the recent history of Cyprus in which four young people died. But it will not be the last one. Last year it was the Morphou (Güzelyurt) district and the Nicosia area which were devastated by floods; this time the Kyrenia region was hit.
In the latest and previous natural disasters, which made matters worse with total ignorance, everyone was guilty. All past and present politicians were responsible for the deaths of those four young men and women, as well as the immense devastating impact of the flood on cities and villages. And the entire population that keep on electing the same politicians to local and central governmental posts despite repeated similar disasters must understand that they were responsible too for what happened.