WE HAD hoped the archbishop’s expression of support for partition, when answering questions from a group of students, would have set in motion the public debate about the settlement Greek Cypriots want.
This is a debate we have never had in the 43 years since the Turkish invasion, our politicians preferring to pursue policies that made partition inevitable rather than openly support it, which would mean they were surrendering the occupied area to Turkey. The last three presidents have taken this cowardly approach.
Archbishop Chrysostomos told the students “it would be better to go to two states, but the state that would be established to be within the European framework and for the settlers to withdraw.” He said that most people under 50 did not believe a federal settlement would last, provoking the ire of Akel, whose spokesman accused him of “adopting Turkey’s Plan B”, “through the permanent surrendering of the occupied territory”.
Interestingly, none of the other parties or the presidential candidates took a stand because they do not want to have the debate. Why make such an admission, when this could be achieved through the so-called new strategy or the desire for a so-called normal state.
Predictably, not even the archbishop defended his position. Yesterday he spoke on a television show and said the two states he was referring to was in a federation, before adopting the default position of all the parties that a non-settlement was not such a bad thing. But what is non-settlement if not partition? The current division remains, the Turkish occupation troops stay forever, the number of Turkish settlers continue to grow and the north eventually becomes a province of Turkey.
One matter the champions of a non-settlement completely ignore is whether Unficyp will remain indefinitely to guard the buffer zone and resolve any disputes between the two sides. Earlier this month UN officials arrived from New York to carry out a review of the peacekeeping operation and report back to the UN Security Council. Nobody knows what will be proposed but it is wrong to assume Unficyp will be here indefinitely to administer the buffer zone just because the two sides refuse to reach some agreement.
This is a possibility that should be discussed, instead of politicians giving the impression that everything will stay the same if the problem is left in its present state. Unfortunately, our politicians would rather talk about their big plans that lead nowhere rather than having an open discussion about the real options available.
The archbishop’s comments could have sparked a genuine debate, but even he reverted to the familiar platitudes 24 hours after mentioning the idea of two states. Like the politicians he would rather this happens via a non-settlement which will only ensure no territory is returned to the Greek Cypriots.