Cyprus Mail
Letters

Think carefully about the names of the constituent states

It is likely that after decades of failed talks the only solution that is likely to be acceptable to the majority of Cypriots from both sides, also currently the only option on the table, is the unification of the island under some form of federal republic.

With this in mind, there is however an argument to me made against the use of ethnic identifiers for the naming of the two proposed federal constituent states. This is not against any Cypriots identifying themselves as Greek-, Turkish,  Maronite, Armenian or Roma-Cypriot, or any other hyphenated Cypriot for that matter, should they choose it.

The naming of the states should reflect the geography of its territory and not the majority demographic of a given area.

The two new component states in the federated republic should not be labeled, for example, the “Greek-Cypriot State” and the “Turkish-Cypriot State”. The words Greek and Turkish should be excluded from the naming and instead be called something akin to the “Southern State” and the “Northern State”. Naturally, due to the current make up of the two regions, in the Southern State the Greek language (and its Cypriot dialect), along with the Orthodox Christian religion would be more dominant.

In the Northern State the Turkish language (and its Cypriot dialect) along with the Sunni Islamic religion would be more dominant. However, to enshrine an ethnic identification to the naming of the actual component state harps back to sources of past conflict.

It effectively excludes all other Cypriot citizens from notions of belonging within the other state and perpetuates the “us and them” mentality of the past. “Motherland” nationalism has brought catastrophic consequences to Cyprus. It is at best counterproductive and at worst an incitement to future conflict to allow the new united federal Cyprus Republic to inherit these dividing and exclusionary ethnic identifiers.

Applying such labeling to a new country would seem an anomaly to the norms and values of the European Union and the new Cypriot state. You do not need to be a Cypriot or have deep knowledge of the Cyprus problem and its history to appreciate that this is an anachronism with no place in a modern, inclusive and democratic country. We must not be held hostage to the past but rather learn from it.

Cypriot Hellenism and Turkism, as well as other cultural influences, are all part of the fabric of Cypriot history and society and cannot be changed. But they are part of a shared fabric and not something that should continue to be divided across artificially imposed territorial lines — as if culture ends at a checkpoint or regional boundary. All Cypriots have the right to feel Cypriot no matter where they reside or visit on their island.

This may not be the most important factor in a solution but it is nevertheless one area that no public discussion is taking place and that should change. This should be discussed during the upcoming talks as it can help reconcile the past and help facilitate and secure a lasting future peace.

A petition on the issue can be found here:

https://www.change.org/p/remove-ethnic-labels-from-the-naming-of-any-future-component-states-in-a-reunified-federal-cyprus

 

Louca Efthemi, via email

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