Anyone listening to President Anastasiades’ address on the 60th anniversary of the Cyprus Republic, would have wondered why there were so many references to Turkey. On Thursday we were supposed to be celebrating 60 years as an independent Republic, but instead we heard our president talking about Turkey’s human rights abuses, disregard for UN resolutions, violations of the Cypriot EEZ, its gunboat diplomacy and, of course, its intransigence and unreasonable demands which were preventing a lasting and workable settlement of the Cyprus problem.
It is indisputable that Turkey had a negative impact on the Republic, but mentioning it continuously in an address on the occasion of independence seemed, to say the least, uncalled for. People wanted to hear about a vision for the future, of the direction the young Republic would take in the next couple of decades, of how the mistakes that were made in the previous 60 years would be rectified or their negative consequences minimised, of how it saw its role in the EU. Was this also put on hold because of Turkey’s intransigence and refusal to allow the development of the Republic?
Sadly, all this Turkey talk by the president on Independence Day seems designed to cover up all the failure of the Greek Cypriot politicians in the last 60 years, which led to the Republic losing control of 40 per cent of its territory and some 200,000 people losing their homes and properties. This was a result of the Turkish invasion and occupation, but are our politicians blameless that things led to this? And are our political leaders blameless for the fact that in 46 years since the invasion, they have spurned several opportunities of having large chunks of occupied territory returned which would also have allowed tens of thousands of refugees to return to their homes?
Are our political leaders blameless that the north has been taken over by Turkish capital, Turkish Cypriots have become a minority, the occupied territory has become a province of Turkey in all but name and that partition appears the option for a solution? They have surrendered 40 per cent of the Republic’s territory to Turkey, having campaigned against the Annan plan in 2004 and walking out of Crans-Montana, 13 years later, with nothing, celebrating these missed opportunities for the re-unification of the country, as Greek Cypriot triumphs.
This is why President Anastasiades devoted so much of his Independence Day address to Turkey. Blaming Turkey for all our ills, allows our political leaders to avoid all responsibility for what has happened to the country since independence and to claim they are blameless for our current predicament.