IT WAS incredible that the legislature’s meeting on Monday, to mark the anniversary of the 1974 coup, would give rise to press reports about national reconciliation. Thirty-nine years later, had the party leaders decided it was time for national reconciliation? Is there really such a need today?
It is not as if the country remains deeply divided over the coup and people need to be brought together. The reconciliation took place long before Monday, people getting on with their neighbours and colleagues for years now, regardless of their political beliefs. As for the younger generation, they have no experience of the coup, the junta and Makarios that are stories they read about in books and have little bearing on their lives.
In fact, the division that supposedly necessitates national reconciliation exists only in the minds of our politicians and especially those of the AKEL camp who have been doing everything to preserve it for the last four decades. We are not suggesting that the coup should be swept under the carpet, but there are different ways of remembering an event that had a big impact on the country, but using it to stir hatred should not be one of them.
But the AKEL narrative of the coup and its divisions has been fully exploited by the party in order to rally support and to justify its anti-West prejudice. It also allows the party to take the moral high ground as its supporters had been targeted by the coupists who were never punished for their role in overthrowing the elected president.
DISY chief Averof Neophytou, whose party was always accused of offering political shelter to coupists, made the call for national reconciliation on Monday, stating that “we should no longer keep the people divided”. And AKEL chief, Andros Kyprianou, said ‘yes’ to Neophytou’s proposal assuring that he was ready to contribute to national reconciliation. Even if disagreements remained there had to be a common front for facing the difficulties that lay ahead.
The drive for reconciliation did not last long. Soon after the House meeting, the AKEL spokesman attacked Neophytou’s presence at a memorial service for the commandos who were killed, attacking the presidential palace during the coup, describing it as a “brutal provocation”. The national reconciliation may now have to wait until the next July 15, when our politicians would again decide there is a need to unite the people again.
For the country to be united it is not national reconciliation that is needed but a unity of purpose, which the political parties would never agree on, for fear of losing some of their custom.