OUR POLITICIANS rarely deviate from the politically correct discourse of the Cyprus problem when speaking in public. They stick to the one-sided version of events, recycle the official rhetoric and speak as if they have a monopoly on the truth. Challenging and questioning ideas is avoided for fear of this being interpreted as weakness or a lack of patriotism and sparking criticism.
This was why President Anastasiades’ speech at the opening of the conference for overseas Cypriots on Tuesday night was such a pleasant surprise. The president challenged several of the assumptions made by our side, questioning the logic and explaining that there was more than one way of looking at things.
For instance he took the issue of property and answered all those Greek Cypriots who had been expressing outrage because it was agreed a user’s rights would also be recognised. Should the rights of 160,000 Greek Cypriots that were users of Turkish Cypriot properties in the free areas be written off, he asked. It was a valid point that has never been acknowledged by our politicians who only speak about Greek Cypriot properties in the north.
He also brought up the sacred cow of the Cyprus Republic, pointing out that “the time had come for us to realise that the old times when we thought the Cyprus Republic was a Greek Cypriot Republic have no validity.” He also highlighted the contradiction in the argument of those who want to maintain the Cyprus Republic while doing away with the treaties that set it up in the 1960s. The Republic will evolve into something new, he said and stated he would not allow “populism to lead to denials”.
It was about time someone made the point that these issues could not be simplified into black and white as has been the practice for the last 40 years. And there was nobody more suitable than the president to challenge the skewed way of viewing the national problem. He might not have convinced many people, but hopefully he may have encouraged them to be less dogmatic and more open-minded. This would constitute a positive step.
He will never convince the hard-line opponents of a settlement such as DIKO chief Nicolas Papadopoulos who told overseas Cypriots yesterday that our objective should be the maintenance of the Cyprus Republic, because its dissolution could “turn us into the Palestinians of the Mediterranean, a people without a state”. We will hear a lot more alarmist nonsense like this in the future, which is why it was so important for the president to start challenging the decades-old official dogmas, which Papadopoulos and his fellow travellers have always championed and is geared towards partition and the surrender of the occupied territory to Turkey.