Cyprus Mail
CM Regular Columnist Opinion

We owe them a duty of care and support

Turkish tanks invading in 1974

They are compatriots of ours and we have a duty to support them and stand by them. I am talking of the Turkish Cypriots whom the Republic of Cyprus has abandoned to the mercy of Turkey and God.

Since the Turkish invasion nearly 45 years ago, Turkey has had northern Cyprus under occupation. In this long period of time, the Republic of Cyprus has not been able to liberate northern Cyprus, even though it commands substantial resources and influence, which could be utilised for this purpose.

Either because the required competence was lacking or because the task was objectively difficult, the Republic has failed to attain this objective, even though it had an unquestionable legal and moral duty to throw all its resources at the task. Thus, northern Cyprus, where most inhabitants are Turkish Cypriots, continues to be under the occupation of a foreign power, which secures its presence by means of a sizeable army and by providing massive economic support to the Turkish Cypriots.

What has the government of the Republic of Cyprus done to protect and support its citizens, who live in northern Cyprus under an administration that is effectively a hostage of the occupation forces? In fact, on many occasions, the Republic of Cyprus (which claims the right to speak on behalf of all Cypriots) has acted in a manner that has isolated and alienated those citizens in the northern part of Cyprus. The population movements which have resulted in the segregation of the population of Cyprus materialised under war conditions. It is not inconceivable that many Cypriots, who moved to the northern part of the island may have acted differently, if they could secure their lives and property and if they were helped to resist the psychological pressure that was applied on them by Turkey.

Irrespective of what your views are on what happened at that time, the fact remains that the Republic has consistently failed to liberate its northern part from the occupation and it would be naive to expect those currently living there to do this without any assistance from outside.

On this basis, I find the comments of certain “merchants”, aiming at the punishment and the isolation of the citizens of the Republic who live in the occupied part of Cyprus, disagreeable, petty and unacceptable. I find the argument that helping and supporting our compatriots would have a negative impact on the economic interests of another (small) group of citizens, objectionable. In effect, what these people are asking the state to do is to abandon a sizable segment of its citizens to the mercy of Turkey in order to protect the economic interests of a small circle of friends! This petty and shortsighted mentality arms the hands of all those who wish to push the Turkish Cypriots into Turkey’s embrace.

I suspect that the supporters of the substantive division of Cyprus into two independent states or into two parts that would respectively merge with Greece and Turkey (thus securing – as they claim – the protection of their economic interests), do not realise that by their behaviour they deprive the state of Cyprus from the ability to claim that it is a state which embraces all Cypriots. Their behaviour is pushing Cyprus towards its dismemberment, which is exactly what Turkey is aiming at.

The irony is that these mean compatriots of ours, who set their very short-term petty interests above everything else, label themselves as “patriotic” and have the cheek to call those, who are struggling to avert the partition of Cyprus, as “submissive deserters”! Perhaps, this is what Aeschylus had in mind when he was referring to “temerity giving birth to tyrants”.

Christos Panayiotides is a regular columnist writing in Cyprus Mail and Alithia

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