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Tales from the Coffeeshop: Varosha and the five stages of grief

Greek Cypriots Protest At Deryneia Checkpoint After Turkish Cypriot Authorities Opened Up Part Of A Fenced Off Area Of Varosha, A Suburb Of The Town Of Famagusta In Turkish Controlled Northern Cyprus
The demonstration at Dherynia on Thursday when we were still in the second stage of grief: anger. We’re now stuck in the bargaining stage (Reuters)

IS THERE anything that hasn’t been already written, said or shouted about Famagusta over the past 46 years? Probably not, but for the last three days turn on any radio or TV, read any newspaper or news website and you are bombarded by the subject, because on Thursday the Turkish Cypriots opened the seafront of fenced off Varosha and mass hysteria and outrage took hold.

We appeared to be following the five stages of grief. The Turks had announced they would open the town and resettle it last year and we were pretending it was not going to happen, that they were just bluffing, or some divine intervention would stop them. We were in the denial stage.

Now that it has partially happened – the sea-front was opened, where nobody is going to live – we have entered the anger stage, holding demonstrations, making indignant statements, protesting that nobody is intervening to help us and threatening we will not return to Cyprob negotiations, which only assist the Turks with proceeding with their plan.

It seems the anger stage lasted just a few days as on Friday night we entered the bargaining stage. We secured a statement from the president of the UN Security Council calling on Turkey to rescind its decision. This is perfectly in line with the bargaining stage, which is defined as: “conceding the outcome, but one attempts to do so by squeezing a few more moments of normal out of the turmoil… The clinging to the threads of hope, however thin and worn the fabric may be.”


WHAT else but “bargaining” is an appeal to the UN Security Council, which in Kyproulla’s case, has proven a colossally ineffective organisation, even though for decades it was presented by our devious politicians as some kind of saviour and its resolutions, that are not worth the paper they are written on, as tickets to salvation.

Appealing to the UN Security Council is an admission of powerlessness by our government, an act of desperation, but it will be sold to us as another victory of our multi-layered, multi-dimensional diplomacy. Our government’s efforts to secure a statement from the presidency of the UN Security Council was built up as a courageous and dramatic battle, according to Phil’s Friday edition.

“The behind-the-scenes deliberations of the last 48 hours centre on the content of the president’s statement from the Security Council,” it reported. Nicosia was working “in the direction of the president’s statement through which a specific powerful message is sent in the direction(sic) of Turkey.” A statement by the president meant that it was supported by all council members explained Phil, “a fact that strengthens even more the position of the body”.

As we found out on Saturday morning, the “intense work” in the Big Apple was crowned in success. We got our specific powerful message from the UNSC president, so now all we have to do is find a postman to deliver it Erdogan, because he does not have an email account.


IF I DID not know otherwise, I would have said the UN Security Council has a sharp sense of humour after reading the president’s specific and powerful message to Turkey.

Apart from calling on Turkey to reverse its decision, the statement “further reaffirmed the status of Varosha as set out in previous Council resolutions — including resolutions 550 (1984) and 789 (1992) — and reiterated that no actions should be carried out in relation to Varosha that are not in accordance with those texts.”

For the record, resolution 550, from 36 years ago, “calls for the transfer of Varosha to the administration of the United Nations”. Have the Turks done that? Of course not, even though they were reminded again, eight years later, by resolution 789, by which the UNSC said “that, with a view to the implementation of resolution 550 (1984), the area at present under the control of the United Nations Peace-keeping Force in Cyprus be extended to include Varosha.”

Now the Turks will ignore the part of 550 that “considers attempts to settle any part of Varosha by people other than its inhabitants as inadmissible”. They might even claim that on the occasions they offered to return Varosha to its inhabitant, either our politicians (1978), or the population (2004) said they did not want it back. The majority of Famagustans, many of whom are crying today, voted ‘no’ in the referendum and applauded Prez Nik’s patriotic walk-out of Crans-Montana in 2017.


OUR LATEST triumph at the UN Security Council belonged to our permanent representative Andreas Mavroyiannis, also the Greek Cypriot side’s negotiator, who in the last three years has had zero to do. I hope we have not been paying him to do nothing, though we did change the law so he could be a perm rep at the UN and unemployed negotiator at the same time.

After the statement was finalised Mavroyiannis appeared before the cameras to show us that he is doing some work for his big monthly pay-cheque and to thank the UNSC and its president for calling on Turkey to reverse its decision. “We will continue working for the continuation of the negotiations for the settlement of the Cyprus problem,” he said, avoiding mentioning that our prez said there would be no continuation without a reversal of the Turks’ decision.


THE TURKS dropped the Varosha bombshell, that only our government did not see coming, on Tuesday. It was announced in Ankara by Erdogan and pseudo-presidential candidate Ersin Tatar, the present pseudo-prime minister and leader of the UBP party.

It was an attempt by the Erdogan to boost the election chances of his poodle and candidate Tatar, who is such a pathetic loser he is having trouble persuading even the supporters his UBP, the biggest party in the north, to vote for him in Sunday’s pseudo elections.

Turkey’s meddling in the campaign has taken different forms. Mustafa Akinci said he had never witnessed such a level of meddling in his 45 years in politics, claiming Turkey’s embassy was acting as a campaign team working against him. Deputies of Turkey’s AKP had been touring villages in the north urging people not to vote for him, while promises of cash and favours were being made.

Even Serdar Denktash, another pseudo-candidate, was moaning about Mother Turkey’s interference, saying cash was being distributed to voters by Tatar’s cash-strapped pseudo-government as some sort of coronavirus benefit, in order to win votes. At least nobody could accuse Erdogan of not putting his money (the Turkish taxpayer’s to be precise) where his mouth is.


TUESDAY’S announcement about Varosha caused the humourless, self-regarding pseudo-candidate Kudret Ozersay to go into the mother of all sulks, as the fatherhood of the opening of Varosha that he had proudly claimed was taken away from him by the cruel Erdogan and handed over to the undeserving Tatar.

The next day the sulking Ozersay threw a tantrum, resigning as pseudo deputy prime minister of Tatar’s pseudo government and taking his HP party with him. He felt betrayed that Tatar had deviously gone behind his back and made the announcement, claiming the fatherhood of the opening, without as much as informing the real dad.

It was nothing more than the charmless Ozersay deserved after that budget campaign video of him on a deserted and rundown basketball court playing with a tattooed hunk, conversing with him for three minutes and pretending he was interested in what the hunk had to say.

Perhaps Erdogan saw this and decided to punish Ozersay. A more realistic explanation is that he decided to back the loser Tatar, because Ozersay is a complete no-hoper pseudo-candidate in today’s pseudo elections.


MEANWHILE, the education ministry has come up with an extremely original and ground-breaking idea to counter the latest provocative action by Turkey. It announced it will reinstate the ‘Den Xechno’ (I don’t forget) indoctrination sessions at all the public schools and this would start on Monday on the theme of ‘Reintroducing Famagusta’.

The ministry asked primary schools to activate the ‘Den Xechno’ committees, which sound like something set up to help the kids not forget to do their homework. What the mandarins at the ministry do not get is that a 10-year-old in Paphos and a 14-year-old in Limassol will always forget Famagusta, no matter how well their schools brainwash them, because the town has never been a part of their life.


THE ‘DEN XECHNO’ committees appear to be perfectly consistent with the education ministry’s Soviet mentality. A couple of weeks ago it also announced the establishment of a deputy ministry of culture, which was welcomed by Dr Eleni Theocharous, who declared Cyprus a “cultural superpower” – definitely something we should not forget.

A couple of days ago, it was reported that the law that would set up the deputy ministry would also have a provision about the ‘regime of the artist’ – more Soviet thinking – that would come under the department of “modern culture and cultural creatio”n” Will the state set requirements for someone being an artist? For example, will a man have to have a beard to be an artist?

The news report said there could also be a department for cultural tourism and cultural diplomacy. Our foreign minister’s idea was not so stupid after all if the mandarins of our Soviet-type education ministry have adopted it.


I WOULD like to close on a positive note, because I think I may have overdone the negativity today. There is no real danger of us slipping into the fourth stage of grief – depression – over Famagusta, because we will never leave the third stage, which is bargaining. Nobody does bargaining as well as a Cypriot which means we will remain in this stage of grief for a few more decades.

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