Yeraltý Notlarý, 23 Mayýs 2004

Sevgül Uludað

 

From the edge of life…(*)

Sevgul Uludag

Would you like your daughter to go to Mexico and then fly to New York for a holiday while you keep your son at the edge of life, next to you in say, Aya Varvara village in Paphos?

Would you like one of your kids to `make it`, to go out and study and conquer the world while the other remains behind, locked up in a farm, despite his or her talents or creativity, to lag behind?

When I think of our two communities, this image of the two kids, one successful, the other restrained, comes to my mind. I think of both of them as my kids and more and more, I feel so strange on this island…

More and more I feel detached from what the politicians say on both sides of our `border`. Whether it’s Papadopoulos or Talat, it does not matter…

Papadopoulos last week sent a letter to Germany asking for help to solve the Cyprus problem. What is his problem, I wonder? The solution is to be found here, on this soil stretching from Karpass to Paphos, from Kyrenia to Morphou, to Limassol and Larnaca if he wants to really look and see and get engaged in dialogue with Turkish Cypriots.

I told him how disappointed I was due to his OXI campaign, my sadness when I saw him speaking on TV and crying but not speaking as the president of the Republic of Cyprus but rather as a Greek Cypriot president, taking into account ONLY the concerns of the Greek Cypriot community. I told him of my disappointment because he did not take into account the feelings, needs and concerns of the Turkish Cypriot community and as the president of the Republic of Cyprus, he should have… I told him these, couple of weeks ago in a reception of the EU – he did not flinch… He did not even make the effort to try to understand what this Turkish Cypriot woman was expressing or ask why some of us felt this way… Rather, he went into defense claiming that if he had agreed to the solution, the new state would collapse in three months.

So we sit and wait for another plan, another time, another place? We sit and wait for Papadopoulos to make up his mind about what sort of a legalistic solution he wants, while we send our kids abroad not to return unless there’s a solution?

What do we do? What do we wait for?

In the north, Talat says he will not negotiate the Annan Plan since this would mean the humiliation of those who voted YES in the north. Why not negotiate, I wonder… If we really want a solution, why not make the effort to understand and show understanding… Wasn’t `I do not negotiate` the rhetoric of Denktash? Wasn’t he the one who was refusing to negotiate anything at all – so much so that De Soto told a group of students at Cornell University that he does not know what sort of a negotiator Denktash was, since Denktash never negotiated. He just tried to put his foot inside the door and never moved…

But there is no more Denktash to blame… Denktash is gone, buried in history… Now is the time for Talat to make moves, not for just Turkish Cypriots but also for Greek Cypriots, to help ease the fears, to try to think of creative ways of overcoming these, to try to show that if a Greek Cypriot chooses to live in the north in the future, he would be treated like an equal citizen. To do that, Talat could start from Karpass and Kormakiti, to try to solve the problems of the Greek Cypriots and Maronite Cypriots living there. To show the respect for human rights… Not by words but with concrete actions…

Would this be possible? Perhaps yes, perhaps no! Even our `human rights` are not guaranteed – just before the referendum, remember, Talat’s house was bombed and no one caught till now? If he had the power, Talat of course would do these things, would lift the showing of passports during crossings, would be willing to listen and engage in dialogue… Now he might or he might not – he’s locked up in a position where he cannot move easily. He’s walking a tight rope and the essence of life on this side of our `border` is `uncertainty`… One of these nights the regime, not Talat, might decide to lift the passports or bomb the best selling newspaper… You might be given a `geste` of bombs or lifting of the passports. Noone knows… This is the regime’s philosophy – you write your stories on the sand and all of a sudden waves might come and wash them away… Last week in a session of the parliament, while answering questions, Talat himself reminded the MPs that the north `is not independent, you know…` Yes, we know that very well… Because we live on the edge of life, never being certain of what the regime has in store for us…

And in the north, everything is still in place: the military with its 40 thousand strong army with its tanks, guns and cars full of bombs left in the streets, the listening services, the intelligence services, the structures that were never dismantled… The police under the command of the army… A government without any real power… A parliament which does not want to bring down the government or have early elections… Trade unions without an agenda for internal change…

NGOs in confusion, without a civic agenda for change on this soil…

My spirit as an inhabitant of this island is hurt by all of this – where is our spirit if we have a culture of 9 thousand years? Where is our plans for a common country? Where is our projects for reunification? The `border` is open for us to create opportunities to work in common structures… Where is our joint NGOs, our joint political parties? Where is our vision for the future?

My Dalmatian dog Jelly is restless: she sleeps every night in the living room, on a rug that my sister bought for her. She also has a blanket and a shawl to put her nose into and to wrap around her while she sleeps… But the restlessness comes from the atmosphere… Tonight she brings her doll for the first time to sleep with… She has eaten her face but the orange hair, the arms, the legs and the body remains. She loves this toy and tries to show it to everyone who comes into the house: the guests, the neighbor’s dog and even the cats that pass by our garden… For tonight, the doll is the consolation for her…

What is our consolation from everything happening around us?

And it’s not just Jelly, the restlessness and anxiety is here, on this island: it’s like `What have we done?` or `What’s been done to us?` and more important, `What now? What will happen?`

Will there be a second referendum? Will it be before the end of this year?

Ankara is happy with the situation: the newspapers close to Erdogan like Yeni Safak and Zaman, stop writing about the solution of the Cyprus problem. There is no analysis of what might happen next in the newspapers of Turkey. They have stopped writing… A friend close to the journalists in Yeni Safak gives the clue:

`The Erdogan government is happy with the things as they are… They want to keep this as long as possible…`

And everything remains in place: the army, the structures they built over the years, the listening services, the cars full of bombs, the police under their command… The government without any real power, the parliament without a clue, the trade unions without an agenda for internal change… The puppet show remains and so do the masters of the game…

This is the real status quo on this island: it is not only in the north but in the south as well. Everything is in place there too… The traditional parties, the setups, the offshores, the laundering of money, the mafiosas, the nationalism and the `enemy` images… The whole history of things remain, at an impasse, waiting and waiting, as though we are waiting for Godot to come and resolve this situation for us…

I feel so strange on this island: why can’t we make our own plan for a solution, I ask… Why can’t we start engaging in dialogue about what happened on the 24th of April? Or about the Annan Plan? Or about the worries, fears and sensitivities of each other… Why can’t we sit and talk at a table without anyone having to tell us what to do? Why can’t we take the initiative to start the dialogue, instead of the UN Security Council telling us what we must do? If you don’t do it yourself, of course the world will tell you what to do! If you don’t comprehend where the world is going, of course they will remind you!…

It’s like two kids, one of them successful, one of them restrained, both of them not finding the way to reconcile and share…

Why is it that we have engaged ourselves so much in power politics, instead of listening to our hearts?

This country needs grassroots leaders, heroes of my type, ordinary persons who would not be afraid to speak sincerely…

This country needs a sincere dialogue and the reunification of its history, its vision, its hopes and dreams…

Let me look into my heart and see what remains from so many weeks of turmoil: let me call on you to come up and get organized to bring about change for the sake of principle that none of our kids will be restrained and none of our kids would be privileged just because they were born on this or that side of our `border`. Let me challenge you to think about what is it that divides us… Why we can’t trust each other enough to wage a common struggle for a common country on this island… Why we can’t sit together and speak of everything that bothers us, instead of pretending that everything is OK among the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, because it is not and it will not be, so long as we don’t have a very sincere dialogue…

I do not have anything but my heart and my sincerity to offer to you: instead of doing it separately let’s start thinking together… Instead of holding on to our own `corners`, let’s start uniting our forces because we are one and the same despite our differences: we are children born under the same sky, under the same sun, under the same stars… We are children of this soil… We are Cypriots who speak Turkish or Greek or other languages… We are Cypriots with many common and some different cultural traditions… We are, what we have made ourselves, what we’ve turned into…

Let’s try to go beyond traditional politicians who lag behind us, beyond rhetorics they use, beyond our `borders` and build joint structures so that we can dream together a future, make mistakes together, laugh together, smile together, cry together, bury our loved ones together and enjoy the beautiful life that waits for us…

Let’s say goodbye to Godot for the solution of our problems – because he or she will never come…

(*) Article published in ALITHIA newspaper on the 23th of May 2004.

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