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Our View: New pro-federation group faces a Herculean task

Even President Anastasiades, who was supposedly negotiating such a settlement for several years, admitted not so long ago that he was uncertain about the provisions of a federation

THE NEW initiative, ‘Decision for Peace’ aims to campaign for a bizonal, bicommunal federation (BBF) and inform people about the form such a settlement would take. The group is fronted by former leading politicians, two from Disy and two from Akel, the parties that traditionally supported this type of settlement which is the only attainable one.

It is astonishing that more than 40 years after the leaders of the two sides agreed in principle that a settlement should be BBF, there is a need to inform people about what it would entail. In those 42 years Greek Cypriots were never offered an honest and objective explanation of how a federation would operate. Even President Anastasiades, who was supposedly negotiating such a settlement for several years, admitted not so long ago that he was uncertain about its provisions and proposed bringing in constitutional experts to explain them to us.

Speaking at the presentation, former attorney-general and past negotiator Alecos Markides said that there was no correct information about a federation, which was a mild way of referring to the misinformation, negativity, alarmism and plain lies that opponents of a settlement have resorted to. For decades, rejectionist politicians and newspapers have done little else than demonise a BBF, presenting it as unfair, unjust, undemocratic, in violation of human rights and ultimately a vehicle for Turkey to exercise control over all of Cyprus.

This propaganda was never countered by anyone, not even presidents who were supposedly working for a solution, thus giving a free rein to the anti-settlement campaigners to present support of BBF as being tantamount to treason. They have won a big victory in this regard, having turned the majority of the population against the only settlement attainable. And the irony is that the critics of a BBF have never displayed a similar aversion to partition which is the alternative. Perhaps they view surrendering all occupied Cyprus to Turkey as a fair and more just arrangement than a federation.

‘Decision for Peace’ is a commendable initiative, but it faces a Herculean task in trying to reverse the anti-BBF sentiment that has been cultivated by decades of abject negativity and become ingrained in people’s minds. Where should the campaigners begin? Will anyone listen to them? The most likely scenario is that they will be pilloried and disparaged by the champions of partition for their efforts.

This, after all, is a time in which even the president has turned against BBF, questioning its basic tenets and expressing serious doubts about its efficacy. Perhaps Decision for Peace should inaugurate their information campaign at the presidential palace, before enlightening the public.

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