Referring to my article that was published last Sunday, a friend sent me the following note: “I do not consider the goal of seeking the severance of the political cord connecting northern Cyprus with Turkey attainable. It follows that a solution based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation cannot be a permanent and safe solution”.
I suspect that this message is representative of the feelings of a sizeable segment of the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities and, more particularly, of those who are against such an arrangement.
There is no doubt (and any argument to the contrary should be declared insane) that Turkey would be delighted, if offered the chance to annex the whole of Cyprus and to reap all the benefits that such a move would entail, including the undistracted exploration of the underwater wealth of Cyprus on an exclusive basis.
There is no doubt that a very small segment of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots would opt for the partition of the island as a way of securing their political survival. There is no doubt that an even smaller segment of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots hate each other so much that for them any thought of cohabitation and coexistence is inconceivable. Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of Cypriots are peace-loving people who are simply AFRAID.
I hasten to add that they are justifiably afraid, given that certain cowboys (probably following orders) do whatever they can to intensify these fears.
It is not sheer coincidence that stories of atrocities, which were committed half a century ago by a small number of nationalists with animal instincts, constitute reading material that is generously offered to the people of Cyprus and, indeed, in a manner that generates disgust and revulsion.
Admittedly, the systematic efforts of each side to blame the other side for the failure, to date, to reach a solution do not contribute to the creation of a climate of mutual trust. On the contrary! The never-ending references to “not trust-worthy opponents”, “unrepentant sultans”, “unabashed barbarians”, “shameless Attilas” and the like, ready to tear Cyprus apart, systematically fuel the feeling of fear within the Greek Cypriot community. Unfortunately, similar conditions prevail on the Turkish Cypriot side.
It follows that, if the leaders of the two communities are genuinely committed to secure the reunification of Cyprus, then they must throw the full weight of their efforts in the direction of identifying and implementing practical steps that would induce a climate of security and trust, which, in turn, would enable all Cypriots to get rid of their phobias.
The generation of a climate of mutual trust will make a huge contribution in attaining the needed severance of the political umbilical cord currently linking Cyprus with the two “motherlands”.
This is the catalytic role which the United Nations, the European Union and the other genuine friends of Cyprus can play.
The Cypriots do wish to move in this direction but they cannot do it without outside help. In the event that the process of seeking a solution to the Cyprus problem is re-launched, the Secretary-General of the United Nations (whose good intentions are indisputable), assisted and supported by the European Union, will have to assume the responsibility he carries for promoting peace, by identifying and sponsoring practical steps that will allow Cypriots to feel secure and, thus, dare to take difficult decisions.
It’s not easy but it is doable. We need to give it a try in order to keep alive our chances of saving our country from destruction and extermination.
Christos Panayiotides is a regular columnist for the Cyprus Mail, Sunday Mail and Alithia