By Loucas Charalambous
I LOVED the view expressed by UN envoy Espen Barth Eide in an interview with Turkish Cypriot paper Havadis. He said: “It is like a marriage. If you want to row, every issue is big enough. But if you do not want to row you can overcome everything.”
I think in these two lines he managed to give a very clear picture of people’s behaviour today when faced with the prospect of a settlement. There could have been no more accurate a way of rendering the recent reality of how we live in this weird country over developments in the talks process.
Seeing the viciousness of the reactions from rejectionist politicians, the media and specific journalists one realises that all they want is a row. They have no interest in expressing a constructive view, as they have nothing serious to propose. They have no interest in proposing a different approach to a subject. They have always been bereft of ideas. All they can do is shout slogans because all they care about is preventing a settlement. They do not want a marriage; they just want to stay divorced (partition is another way of putting it). That is why they are intent on rowing.
We are witnessing the same phenomenon once again – the irresponsible demagoguery, cheap rhetoric, empty slogans and patriotic hypocrisy. The sloganeering has remained the same for the past 50 years. We have justice on our side and are 100 per cent in the right. For all the ills we have suffered, the Turks, the British, the Americans, the Europeans and the UN are to blame. We are the innocent victims.
We do not possess the basic thinking skills to recognise even the most blatantly obvious blunders we have committed, blunders that have been listed so often in this column. Much worse, we cannot understand that in politics you pay for your mistakes. And consequently, whatever happens, it is not possible to solve the problem without paying the price for our criminal mistakes, which in effect created the problem in the first place. Our concern should be to try to restrict the cost.
One hears our politicians talking about a settlement as if we are going to create the ideal state. As if they are not aware that for 42 years now we have had two states with the Turkish army occupying almost half the country, while half the population has moved either north or south and are happy where they are today. In the north a new compact society of 250,000 people has formed and nobody can move them again against their wishes. In these conditions, it is beyond laughable for some to argue for a return to the situation which existed 43 years ago. And I do not think they are so naive they do not know it.
Rowing is an easy escape route from a dialogue when someone does not have any arguments to back his views and positions. In a row you do not need arguments. That is why our politicians have become so ludicrous. All they do now is comment on the comments of others. Every day they wait for Mustafa Akinci, some official in Turkey or our president to say something so they can make a comment on it, and then celebrate that they have been proved right.
It has become abundantly clear that we are facing the same setting as 2004. On one side are those who want a settlement and are fully aware that, in view of all the stupidities we have committed all these years, it will be a tough compromise but one that contains the hope of a better life in conditions of peace and security for everyone. On the other side are all those who cause rows solely because they believe they would be better served by partition.
That is why they want to row and, as Eide correctly pointed out, even the most trivial issue is big enough.