Cyprus Mail
CM Regular ColumnistOpinion

Dissecting the rejectionists

UN soldier entering the Green Line in Nicosia. Partition could mean this becoming part of a border with Turkey

By George Koumoullis

THE constantly derided efforts to find a solution to the Cyprus problem puts the anatomy of the rejectionists under the microscope.

The term ‘rejectionist’ in the Cyprus milieu refers to a person who rejects the bizonal, bicommunal federation (BBF) as a Cyprus settlement. All rejectionists have a common characteristic: none of them counter proposes an alternative settlement that would be considered achievable by citizens capable of basic thought. Their inability to take a stand for a specific settlement leads many to conclude that the solution they want, but dare not admit to, is the non-solution. This unmentionable objective they have managed to instil in many Cypriots, while the slogan “they on their side and we on our side” is already considered banal.

To start with, we must make clear what we mean by BBF. President Anastasiades has repeatedly stated very clearly that we are seeking a settlement without foreign guarantees and interventions, a Cyprus with one international personality, a single sovereignty and one citizenship that would be compatible with international law, European law and EU acquis.

If we exclude the two big parties, the leaders of the rest of the parliamentary parties are rejectionist. They embrace rejectionism because they are addicted to publicity and seek to perpetuate their profitable professional careers. It is a generation of politicians that are addicted to living on the knife edge of invasions (Greece’s and Turkey’s) and economic meltdowns. For the rejectionists, the preservation of the status quo is the sine qua non for their professional rise and success. The normalisation of political life after a settlement would shatter the meaning of their political existences and their currently thriving careers would inevitably slow down and possibly end. It is this nightmarish scenario that makes them consider themselves, perhaps subconsciously, great patriots, heroes, national saviours and sleepless guardians of Cypriot Hellenism.

Given the opportunity all rejectionists would repeat the hackneyed view that BBF would lead to the legalisation of partition and dissolution of the Republic of Cyprus. Watching them on the small screen, you associate rejectionists with parrots locked up in glass cages, each one singing endlessly the same tune.

The opponents of a settlement are terrified about what would happen to the republic despite assurances from the Cyprus government that the settlement would be based on its evolution. They conveniently ignore the fact that the European parliament passed a resolution, promoted by MEP Takis Hadjigeorgiou, stipulating that a settlement would provide for the evolution of the republic.

Worrying about the fate of the republic, by those politicians whose mentor worked away at destroying it immediately after it was established, is a phenomenal irony. One well-known journalist who sermonises daily on the radio about the importance of the republic’s survival is the very same person who, one sad day in 1971, illegally took down the Cyprus flag from the parliament building. This is a glowing example of an implacable enemy of the republic evolving into its mighty guard-dog. What times we live in!

Another worry for the rejectionists is that we cannot trust the Turks to honour the deals we agree to, as if the Greek Cypriots’ record on such matters was above all suspicion and their trustworthiness was indisputable. The day after we signed the agreement making Cyprus an independent state we embarked on a campaign to dissolve it and declare union with Greece. In July 1967 our deputies, showing contempt for their pledge to respect the constitution, passed a House resolution in support of enosis. And what should we say about the Greek invasion of July 15, 1974 which was supported by hundreds of clubs and associations?

The partitionists (synonym for rejectionists) either do not understand the meaning of political equality or just refuse to accept it. Political equality means that neither constituent state of Cyprus would be able unilaterally to change the constitution. What they have been banging on about – ‘one man one vote’ – does not exist in a federal state. If this were the case the Greek Cypriot state could do whatever it pleased without taking into account the Turkish Cypriots. Benjamin Franklin, one of the US’ founding fathers, explained this matter very precisely. Assume, he said, a country inhabited by two wolves and one lamb which holds a referendum based on the principle of ‘one creature one vote’ on the question, ‘what do you want to eat for dinner tonight?’

Rejectionists never visit the occupied areas. If they carried out some self-analysis, they would have to admit the real reason for this is their dislike of Turkish Cypriots whom they never refer to as ‘compatriots’. If they do visit northern Cyprus for a church service, they take with them their own snack and water so they don’t have to pay a Turkish Cypriot a couple of euros and thus support the occupation economy. Rejectionist parties have next to no contact with Turkish Cypriot parties. However, there are rumours that soon the enemies of the settlement on both sides will set up an informal common front to achieve their aim, in which case the presence of the rejectionists in the north would become necessary.

Have the rejectionists considered how Cyprus would be if the talks collapse this time as well? The most likely consequence is that the occupied area would become part of Turkey, leaving us with a shared border of about 320km. Who will protect us in the event of a possible clash along these borders? How would we exploit our hydrocarbons? Is this the way rejectionists want to solve the property and territorial issues?

In short there could be no more nightmarish prospect for the Greek Cypriots than the failure to reach a settlement.

George Koumoullis is an economist and social scientist

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