Cyprus Mail
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Cyprus problem and migration

migrants walk outside the kokkinotrimithia refugee camp on the outskirts of nicosia
Migrants at Pournara Camp

Uncontrollable immigration is closely linked to the lack of a solution

“The knot has reached the comb” is a cry that it is often heard outside Kokkinotrimithia, near Nicosia, where the Pournara migrant camp is located. “Chaos and fear at Kokkinotrimithia; the local residents lock themselves up in their homes” were the headlines used by AlphaNewsLive to refer to the unprecedented incidents there over the past weekend.

It seems that the element of violence attracts Cypriot viewers, as it does elsewhere. Violence in the streets, violence in football stadiums, in schools, at home and in prisons captivates the average TV viewer. Perhaps, such events make them feel comfortable because they assess the risk of being harmed by such violence as remote. Perhaps, there is also an element of compassion for our fellow humans who suffer the consequences of violence.

However, regardless of the feelings that they evoke in those who watching safely on their television screens, the scenes of violence caused by foreigners – mostly between Africans – underline the seriousness of the migration problem confronting Cyprus. Cyprus is a small island, at a relatively short distance from places that have extensively suffered from political upheavals and instability. As a result, the problem is reaching alarming dimensions. Surely, the problem is exacerbated by the fact that our country is divided into two pieces, which are at odds with each other and are trying to undermine each other. This situation brings us to the so-called “instrumentalisation” of incoming migrants.

This is where the televised skirmishes between the representatives of the political world begin. They are not really interested in solving the problem but ruthlessly use it to hurt their political opponents. In the daily televised skirmishes, only rarely does one hear practical suggestions for resolving the problems that are the subject matter of these debates. The emphasis is on hurting those in power for their incompetence and in convincing the public that the opposition would solve all the problems overnight. In contrast, the aim of those who govern is to remind everybody that when the opposition was in control, they were at least as bad and probably much worse.

In those barren debates, the essence of the problems and the ability to radically addressing them are lost and, instead, patchy solutions which lead nowhere are often adopted.

In respect to immigration, have you heard one politician saying that resolving the problem can only be attained through reunifying Cyprus and normalising relations between Cyprus and Turkey? I am aware that some of the readers will rush to point out that the Cyprus problem is a tough nut to crack and, therefore, any attempt to resolve it is a mere waste of time.

I often hear the Greek Cypriot side proclaiming its desire for the “resumption of the negotiations”, as if the negotiations were an end in themselves. What does the term negotiations mean? And what is exactly the role of the negotiator? Negotiation probably means you get something by giving something in return. On what basis have the proponents of long-lasting talks concluded that such a process will lead to gains for them, given that the passage of time consolidates the losses sustained in a war and, therefore, works at the detriment of the losers?

The burning question is why no Greek Cypriot politician (save a few) argues in favour of the immediate reunification of Cyprus, as opposed to the immediate relaunching of the negotiation process? The answer to this question is that the political establishment of Cyprus appears to be happy with the status quo, perpetuating partition, ad infinitum.

One might reasonably ask, how is it possible for a Greek Cypriot to want to give northern Cyprus to Turkey as a gift, since that’s where the process leads? In the old days, such behaviour would have been referred to as treason. Today, it is described as heroic resistance to the occupation. Of course, it is readily apparent that this resistance of the Greek Cypriot political establishment leads Cyprus from bad to worse. This is how we have finally reached the preliminary stage of formally recognising the dismemberment of Cyprus and the unconditional surrender of northern Cyprus to neighbouring Turkey.

I believe that the school of thought that regards Turkey as our eternal enemy, with whom we must always be at loggerheads, is wrong and harmful. Quite simply, the Turkish political and social culture is different from that of Cyprus (Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot) and, therefore, I would not like to see Cypriot culture being assimilated by the culture of neighbouring Turkey. However, preserving the culture of each country far from rules out the coexistence of the two on the basis of a good and friendly neighbourly relationship. The orientation of Cyprus (Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot) is towards the European Union. Turkey’s current orientation is towards Russia and Asia. Each country has the right to determine and follow its own political orientation and that is precisely the right that we Cypriots should claim.

Returning to the great problem of migration, I say that a radical solution can only be achieved through the reunification of Cyprus. Any other approach is simply a painkiller, which will temporarily reduce the pain but will leave the underlining problem untouched.

In the upcoming elections, every voter who cares about his/her homeland must vote for candidates who explicitly, unequivocally and unambiguously support the immediate reunification of Cyprus. The projection of seemingly desirable but totally unrealistic goals and slogans, aimed at trapping people and at luring them into nationally catastrophic choices, such as the perpetuation of the dismemberment of Cyprus, should not be amongst the options considered.

The empty slogans that are consistently used by irresponsible politicians for the purposes of securing their election, suck our blood, throw ordinary folk into garbage bins and then escape to magical and exotic lands to enjoy their ill-gotten gains, should not be amongst the options offered to the electorate.

Christos Panayiotides is a regular columnist for the Sunday Mail and Alithia

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