Cyprus Mail
CM Regular Columnist Opinion

Mother and daughter

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

By Hermes Solomon

Turkey has maintained a tight grip on the north since 1974 and shows no sign of letting go. If the north remains ‘a daughter’ of Turkey then permanent partition is assured.

The polemical Recep Tayyip Erdogan has fired a warning shot at the new Turkish Cypriot leader – not to even negotiate at forthcoming talks unless he adheres faultlessly to Recep’s family recipe.

I strolled over the Green Line early last Sunday and asked who would win the second round vote, Mustapha Akinci or Dervis Eroglu? Akinci would most definitely be elected said shopkeepers and coffee shop customers (Greek speaking old-timers) sitting in the corner of the Buyuk Han.

The most noticeable difference between the two sides was the hectic bustle of one and the tranquillity of the other – even on Election Day, the north was deserted. Who loves living there I wondered – tax evading expats, fugitives, casino owning brothel keepers and ‘daughters’ of Turkey?

Perhaps my list is a bit cynical, but I want to know who from the other side will sit at the negotiating table – Turkish Cypriots or Turks?

Whoever it is, the republic will ultimately lose its autonomy -that’s a foregone conclusion and that’s why certain of our politicians are running scared and making ridiculous statements – diversionary tactics from Day One!

Yes, we in the south have done a fine job so far isolating the pseudo state – treating its inhabitants like pariahs. No wonder cries in favour of bi-zonal, bi-communal federation resounded from the gathered throng during last Sunday evening’s victory celebrations.

Turkish Cypriots have had enough of being Turkey’s pawn, imprisoned by their mother in a pseudo state that is going nowhere. And mothers who confine their daughters never have grandchildren.

I suppose most of us would like some sort of a solution if Turkey would only let go. But Turkey won’t. Turkey has invested hundreds of millions in the north and wants a return on its investment – permanent possession.

In today’s world, countries are controlled economically, not by force but by sleight of investment. Just take a look at Greece. What have they got left – the Parthenon? Even that might be sold off piecemeal given the tenuous state of those farcical ECB/Greece bail-out negotiations.

In exchange for investment and military protection, Turkish Cypriots were obliged to ‘house’ an army of forty thousand and accept the influx of two hundred thousand mainland Turks – totally changing the demographics of the place.

I accept my brother, and my brother’s brother, but not easily ‘hill-billies’ from Cilicia – an inaccessible western region of the Taurus mountains – in headscarves and ankle length coats, dragging half a dozen kids in their wake, mostly monolingual and living in the neglected back streets of the old town.

But if bi-zonal, bi-communal federation means we in the south must accept all the north has to offer then many in the south say we have a problem, or as some of the many say, many problems.

Do we really? European nations are taking in asylum seekers/refugees from the embattled Middle East and Africa at unheard of rates. If Europe can manage to integrate a small percentage of this unfortunate mass of humanity, why can’t we? We certainly have plenty of empty property.

The north is not all it’s cracked up to be, and like we in the south, the Turkish Cypriots are hugely indebted to Turkish banks. The Bank of Cyprus Number Two, Josef Ackermann was recently discovered to also be a board member of Akbank. Is integration of the two banking sectors already underway?

But a former spokesman of the republic had his car trashed last week. It was mooted that it was because he attended the victory celebrations in the north. Will Ackermann’s car be trashed as was John Hourican’s?

Even ahead of any solution, bitterness has erupted.

Bitterness does not sleep soundly in a wounded heart. Give that heart half a chance to pump hate, and violent clashes will ensue, and then what?

Little does that heart know that it is confusing hate with self-interest? And the majority on both sides are frightened of change – frightened to live together – fanatically nationalistic they say, but in reality afraid of losing any part of their ill-conceived separately secured identities.

With a weak euro, the most beneficial outcome of any future talks would be to combine the strengths of both sides and discard the weaknesses. Joint tourism/property sale ventures and a single currency – go for it in a really big way. Turn Cyprus into a tourist hub/paradise – three airports, hundreds of hotels, endless sandy sunny beaches – tourists hosted hospitably by Cypriots on both sides.

Talks or not, both sides must first integrate – banking, commerce, industry, sport, education and tourism. Social contact in all fields is essential for Cyprus to stand half a chance of succeeding with bi-zonal, bi-communal federation. After all, that’s exactly what the terms of any Cyprob solution demand – integration at a ‘safe distance’.

Without those pre-requisites, both sides are doomed to decay. And with the unstoppable passing of time, a growing apathy/disinterest will predominate, and within two generations, both sides will be speaking English as their first language and only flying their favourite football club’s flag – Barcelona!

Moderate and evaluate, educate and stimulate, speculate and ameliorate. And for Cyprus’ sake, stop finding reasons not to accommodate.

Turkey must leave Cyprus and Greece must stop pretending it is other than a temporarily failed state.

Cyprus, as part of the EU, belongs to Cypriots of all denominations, not forgetting those many others on both sides legally settled here.

Multiculturalism is the only way forward. It refers to the evolution of cultural diversity within a jurisdiction introduced by its selection policies and institutionalised by its settlement policies.

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