Cyprus Mail

Time for the scars to heal

In reply to the letter by Mr Davis last Sunday (May 25), he missed the point (or ignored it) I was making and used it to reinforce his own argument that Cyprus never was really Greek.

What is obvious to anyone looking at the list of colonisers is time, the length of time the ‘Greeks’ were on the island compared to anyone else. If Britons can claim Gibraltar and The Falkland islands as British from a much lesser period of occupation because the majority of the people who live there feel British, speak English and live their lives believing themselves to be British, then I don’t even need to expound further on what the word ‘Greek’ means here.

Cyprus is clearly an island divided by an invasion in recent times which imposed a Green Line, a border if you will, on its face. A border also separates the Republic of Ireland from its north. What we are looking at there is a case of invasion and occupation from hundreds of years past. Yet the Irish held onto what they believed to be their Irishness and their religion until they fought for independence. Sadly, they were not as successful as the Greeks at holding onto their language, which still exists, although swamped by English over those years.

The Turks have been bringing in mainlanders to swell the numbers of Turkic people on the island since 1974. Those who voted to remain within the UK in the north of Ireland are probably descendants of those who owed allegiance to the Crown in times past and the sufferings of Roman Catholics in ‘The North’ before the Troubles shed international light on them is now well documented.

The map of Ireland clearly shows it to be one island; the map of Cyprus shows this to be one small chunk of land. The lines drawn on both were made not by one individual but by empirical design. What is important is that whoever rules a population, particularly when that population is made up of different races or creeds, is that each person is treated with respect and has the same rights as everybody else.

The recent visits by Queen Elizabeth to Ireland and of President Higgins to London, are a welcome sign that wounds of the past, in the Republic at least, are being healed. The British and the Irish have become so familiar over years that they have more in common than they have in difference.

Old wounds leave scars, and whether those scars are paraded like badges or sensibly obscured by hope for the future, will decide how the future is shaped. The Queen and President Higgins are of an age where reason and life experience hold sway over past differences, and that tolerance allows for respect.

Respect, or lack of it, will also play a role in our future here, a future of prosperity and peace that every sensible Greek and Turkish Cypriot desires for their children and grandchildren. I’m sure Mr Davis agrees with that sentiment. So, let’s stop arguing over the past, and get on with tomorrow better equipped from acknowledging its mistakes.

Colette Ni Reamonn Ioannidou, Nicosia

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