If we truly love our country, we must choose the difficult, uphill path of reconciliation and forgiveness
By Christos P Panayiotides
Certain Greek Cypriots appear to be suffering from paranoia. The word “paranoid” has many synonyms with varying shades of difference but with an identical or very similar substantive content: absurd, cracked, crazed, derailed, deranged, disorderly, frenzied, illogical, irrational, loony, mistrustful, monomaniac, obsessed, screwy, senseless, unbalanced. Paranoia is the feeling that you are being threatened in some way, such as people are watching you or acting against you, even though there is no proof that it is true.
It happens to a lot of people at some point. Even when you know that your concerns are not based in reality, they can be troubling if they happen too often. A good example of paranoid behaviour is a speech characterised by fanaticism and lack of cohesion. An alternative explanation, which is only rarely plausible, is that of those people who are in the ordered service of foreign powers.
Why am I saying all this? It’s because I am striving to explain a strange phenomenon. That of the tragic development of a premature and amateurish liberation struggle, which, after half-a-century-plus of struggle and hardship, has led to the enslavement of half of our homeland and to the threat of the total uprooting of Hellenism from an island that has managed to maintain its Greek character over many millennia.
Obviously, we are all bothered by the fact that northern Cyprus has effectively become a district of Turkey. Turkey is a large country, a member of the G-20 club. She is the successor to an empire that ran Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa for 400 years. But it is a country that has its own culture, one that is different to the Cypriot culture and values, which – to a large extent – are shared by both Greek and Turkish Cypriots. With this in mind, we should aim to establish a good neighbourly relationship between Cyprus and Turkey, a relationship similar to that which the European Union seeks to establish with Turkey.
Instead, the Cypriot government’s stand towards Turkey has constantly been aggressive and threatening, even though it has been clearly demonstrated that the roar of the mouse is not only ineffective, but it also provokes Turkey into adopting a hostile and vindictive position towards the Greek Cypriots.
The bad thing about this story is that the behaviour of the Greek Cypriot leadership also substantially contributes towards absolving Turkey from its numerous sins. Turkey very often presents herself as being on the defensive against the assaults of the Greek Cypriot government and as being the protector of the human rights of a minority that otherwise would have been left unprotected.
I am sure that the few Greek Cypriots that forcefully argue that the arrangements proposed by the UN secretary-general (the Guterres Framework, as it is often referred to) are unfair are naive enough to believe that the Cyprus problem will be solved without much difficulty, if the Greek Cypriot community issues a thunderous “No” to the UN, the EU and the international community in general. Perhaps they have this false impression because they do not have the opportunity to talk to non-Greeks. Perhaps, they feel that their positions are so correct and fair that no well-meaning person could conclude that right is on Turkey’s side. Perhaps, their knowledge of Cyprus history is incomplete and so they are not aware of the isolated atrocities that the Greek Cypriot leadership failed to avert. This is a logical explanation of the paranoia phenomenon which characterises the behaviour of certain Greek Cypriots towards all non-Greeks who attempted to help us and ended being branded as arch enemies.
I wish to stress that it is grossly unfair to blame the whole Greek Cypriot or Turkish Cypriot communities for the isolated atrocities that were committed by derailed Greek or Turkish Cypriots, at the expense of innocent members of the one or the other community. I am absolutely certain that the vast majority of both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots are law-abiding, peace-loving and tolerant people that would find it inconceivable to harm a fellow human being. This truth is often ignored by those who systematically seek to promote hatred and animosity between the two communities.
Thus, shortly before Orthodox Easter, we shall be going to Geneva to seek the reunification of our homeland for the sake of our children and grandchildren; to enable them to enjoy the security and prosperity which we have not been able to enjoy in our lifetime. We need to show that we do not merely care about protecting our own interests, but we seek to serve the interests of all the Cypriots. We should accept the help extended to us by our foreign friends and we should adopt their advice. We should resist the temptation to behave in a maximalistic fashion. We should not forget the popular wisdom that “he who chooses the many, fails to secure the few”.
If we truly love our country, we must choose the difficult, uphill path of reconciliation and forgiveness that demands magnanimity and on-going effort for an extended period of time. We should not choose the easy path that leads to quick enrichment and temporary prosperity such as “the golden passports” scheme. We must not succumb to the temptation to exchange the right of establishment and work under a Turkish Cypriot administration (in Kyrenia, Famagusta, Morphou, the Karpass peninsula and all the other beloved locations in northern Cyprus) for gases, which will probably never become commercially exploitable. We must not exchange a large part of Cypriot land in return for the opportunity to enjoy momentarily the pleasure of a handshake with the powerful of this planet. For me, this kind of thinking in the minds of certain Greek Cypriots constitute cardinal crimes that must be punished by surrendering the perpetrators to the cleansing fire of obsolescence, outcry and social condemnation.
In Geneva, we cannot go with advisers that have clearly adopted views that violently clash with the views of the international community, because, if we do so, we are doomed. I cannot find a trace of logic in the suggestion that all the political parties of Cyprus (irrespective of whom and how many they represent) along with many advisers, who are declared enemies of the reunification of Cyprus, should go there to redefine our goals from scratch. They would then develop a strategy leading to attaining these goals and to forming tactics, which will need to be employed in the struggle that follows. This will all take place while in the room next door Turkey will be negotiating our fate with the international community. This is sheer lunacy!
Christos Panayiotides is a regular columnist for the Cyprus Mail, Sunday Mail and Alithia