Yeraltý Notlarý, 18 Nisan 2004

Sevgül Uludað

 

The battle between `hope` and `fear`… (*)

So who’s holding the key to the solution?

Is it Turkish Cypriots? Settlers? Ankara? Greek Cypriots? Is it the Americans, you think? How about Annan? Or is it the British?

Perhaps the key is in the hands of Athens? You don’t think so?

Who is it then, holding the key for the solution?

So many sides, so much complexity?

Once, Louise Diamond, an American peacebuilder and a friend, tried to talk of the `conflict habituated system` but I could not understand what she meant…

What was this `conflict habituated system`? She was trying to say that conflicts don’t remain the same as in the very form they have begun… They habitate and they become a system, a complex system… So when you try to solve the `original conflict`, it’s no longer there – it has changed, become more complex – therefore the solution is more complex…

I realized what she meant when I saw the Annan plan… I realized it when I went to villages in Karpaz to interview the settlers… No, the conflict as it was started in the 50s had changed…Back in the 50s, the problem had begun with `ENOSIS` and `TAKSIM`, with nationalist discourses of the two communities, being used against each other by the colonialists, that is the British… It continued through in the 60s and 70s, culminating in the division of the island with an exchange of population - the separation of the island into two parts was sealed by the coup of the generals of Greece and the occupation of Turkey (orchestrated and based on the Anglo-American plans of the 50s and 60s…)

30 years of `no contact`, nationalist and chauvinist discourses on both sides of the dividing line, stealing our humanity from us and creating `myths` about the `other` as well as about our own `identity` played its role…Official politics on both parts of the dividing line further destroyed the humanitarian face of Cypriots, whether they were Greek Cypriots or Turkish Cypriots…

Now we are in 2004 and moving towards Europe… In a few weeks we will be Europeans, if it means anything… Europe will be importing the 50 year old Cyprus conflict – from the 1st of May, the complexities of the Cyprus conflict will be no longer ours only but it will become the problem of the European Union…

Because Europe will be importing a real `partition line`, the unsolved `problems` among Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, the problem of the `settlers`, problems of `racism` on both sides of the dividing line, the problems of Turkish Cypriots as new citizens: problems of identity, travel, human rights…

That is, if there is no `solution` until the 1st of May 2004 based on the Annan Plan, which seems rather difficult at the moment…

The Annan Plan did not come out of the blue, it was the result of years of negotiations, a continuity of the Gali Set of Ideas… Of everything said at the negotiation tables, of maps put forward, of confidence building measures… Perhaps no one believed in a solution during the negotiations and even when the Annan Plan was put to the table no one cared to think what was going on and where this was leading us… I mean, in the Greek Cypriot community… Because in the Turkish Cypriot community, the plan was taken `seriously` by citizens… They started speaking, asking questions, discussing… They started demonstrating in the streets… They were the dynamic part of the population in Cyprus because they saw this as a way out of their problems…

From time to time Turkish Cypriots were disappointed… They asked themselves: `Why aren’t the Greek Cypriots demonstrating for a solution? Why aren’t they in the streets?`

They got answers like, `Well, they are waiting for Turkish Cypriots to change Denktash…` or `They don’t have a problem, it’s the Turkish Cypriots who have a problem…`

They continued to hold elections and try to change the status quo…Everyone was mobilized in this or that way, from the remotest village to bigger towns, everyone was discussing the solution of the Cyprus problem… The most touching was Morphou: an area to be returned to Greek Cypriots, the vast majority of Turkish Cypriots in Morphou area wanted the solution most… They were ready to take a risk and step into a future, to be displaced the third time in their lives, so that their children would have a future on the island…Still, there was no movement in the southern part of our island…

In Turkey, things were getting better than 30 years ago… Now Turkey wanted to enter European Union, it was getting ready for that process. There was a struggle between the `Deep State` and the civilian government… Erdogan was speaking of a solution… As time flew, it was clear that there was disagreement between Denktash and the Erdogan government… As Denktash kept on losing ground, he went more and more to Anatolia to create discontent among the Turkish people, to put Erdogan in a difficult position, to try to end the European project of Turkey… This proved to be difficult since the powers of the military were also being curtailed, in accordance with European norms and the criteria Turkey had to fulfill to get into Europe…

Meanwhile the checkpoints opened up, allowing thousands of Cypriots to move in both parts of the island… The `myths` that Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots could not live together started crumbling… Everyday contact with `the other side` became possible… Coming from the Turkish side, this opening caught the Greek Cypriot authorities by surprise… More than half the population would not listen to them and would cross, showing their passports at the checkpoints… The politicians lagged behind… DISI crossed, EDI crossed… AKEL did not and would not…

Tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon AKEL is meeting to decide whether to say `YES` or `NO` to the Annan Plan. They will be deciding whether to say YES to the historical project of reuniting the island as the left or whether keeping the status quo…On Tuesday, progressive Turkish Cypriot youth organizations, held a press conference at Ledra Palace to say that they were suspending all bi-communal activities with youth groups of Greek Cypriot political parties who were saying `NO` to the reunification of the island. In essence, this was a `warning` coming from the left youth of Turkish Cypriots to AKEL: `There is no sense in continuing to hold peace festivals, if at this critical moment we can’t hold our word, the declarations we have signed, the promises we made to each other` they were saying… Many Turkish Cypriots sent e-mails and messages to AKEL to reconsider the decision of their Central Committee about saying `NO`… Some Greek Cypriots tried to find an explanation to the AKEL’s swing from a probable YES to a probable NO: they explained to us that AKEL was fighting a `lost battle` and that `people were not ready` for a solution based on the Annan Plan. They were trying to gain time to convince people… And we were reminding them of the struggle that Turkish Cypriot progressives gave all these years… If they had thought along similar lines, they would have said: `Okay, our community is not ready for the concept of a common country. Let’s not fight a lost battle… Let’s postpone it until reunification, then we can struggle…` But no! Despite threats, sacrifices and a lot of pain and misery, the struggle continued in the northern part for the last 30 years, never flinching and saying `It’s not time yet… Let’s wait and see…`

Now the key I think is in everyone’s hands: the key is in our hearts, in our minds, in our memories… The key to the solution is who we think we are and our vision for the future, if we have any… The key is our mentality: whether we want to live with a `border` between us or united in a new Cyprus…

The battle is between hope and fear… If we look at how the Annan Plan has been received so far, we see this picture: The majority of Turkish Cypriots hold the hope for the future and have been more dynamic in this sense while the majority of Greek Cypriots hold the fear of the `unknown` and that’s why they are the `less dynamic` part of our population…

For the majority of Turkish Cypriots, `hope` is building something new, something better, joining with the Greek Cypriots, with Europe, with the world, overcoming isolation… Therefore this hope is more open to change and whatever comes with change…

For the majority of Greek Cypriots who have a relatively more comfortable life and who are under the bombardment of negative propaganda, `fear`, `paranoia`, `panic` are the words I feel…

But `fear` is a paralyzing feeling: when you are afraid, you can’t move your limbs, you become paralysed… And there is no `end` to fear: unless you learn to deal with it, once you are `afraid`, it is difficult to get out of your paralysis…

Look into your hearts and you will know the answer about the key to the solution: is there hope in your heart or is there fear?…

(*) Article published in ALITHIA on the 18th of April, 2004

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