What sparks off the violence? Recently, a police inspector worriedly shook his head about the readiness of the Cypriot people to resort to violence. His concerns were not only over Paralimni, where an escalation in violence had taken place, but overall on the island open aggression is never far from the surface.
As in 2013, when the acceptance of democratic principles appeared to vanish overnight, and Cypriot law was belittled by a political party, faith and trust has gradually vanished and mute confusion has taken their place. The right of plurality of opinion has faltered and recoiled in the face of very tangible radicalisation. Radicalised citizens are quick to take advantage of a legal vacuum and often fill it with their own violent rule of law. Legal instability can thus lead to conflict, anger and hate among the population.
Before accession to the European Union on 2004, the Republic of Cyprus became a signatory to the acquis communautaire state contract that, for the member states, includes compliance with the Birds Directive among its obligations.
The population, in particular the hunters and bird trappers were well aware of the new legal requirements, and have now had more than ten years to live with and accept them, albeit grudgingly. Democracy implies the co-existence and mutual acceptance of different opinions within a state. Must democracy in Cyprus be abandoned in the name of tradition?
Countries in Europe and Africa, breeding and wintering homes to migrant bird species, spend millions of euros annually on conservation measures aimed at stemming the steady decline in many species. This decline in bird populations in their lands of origin is due not only to loss of habitat through intensive farming methods, massive use of pesticides and overbuilding, but also as a result of hunting and illegal killing of wild birds on migration.
Is it right to talk of tradition when Cyprus carries on killing everybody else’s birds?
– Birds that are protected in the breeding grounds of their home countries by measures costing millions of euros? The oft-cited example of tradition of killing foxes in the United Kingdom and bred bulls in Spain is a false comparison. Fox hunting in Britain has been banned for years and regional bans on bullfighting in Spain have been put into effect. Yet in the Republic of Cyprus, like it or not, people are prepared to sacrifice no less than democracy, to throw the people into confusion and to lead the youth into violence – all for the sake of the ambelopoulia tradition.
Edith Loosli, via email