The Cyprus problem is one that goes back a long way and has remained intractable due to realpolitik calculations. Ethnic identities have been used for the realpolitik calculations in question, and unnecessary differences have arisen between people who should live as friends and brothers. Various countries have also used this situation for their own ends, and a problem that could otherwise easily be resolved has been left in abeyance for years.
Efforts toward a solution are still being based on realpolitik calculations, meaning that they do not promise a concrete solution at all.
Readers will remember that in 2011, the leader of the Greek part of the island at the time, Christofias, suggested that the ratios of the Greek and Turkish populations should not exceed four to one. In other words, there should be four Greeks to every Turk. That same condition for the establishment of peace on Cyprus was raised again by Nikos Anastasiadis last month. In addition, further conditions such as the establishment of a special canton for Greeks who move to northern Cyprus (the Turkish part), Turks being limited to 33 per cent participation in public activities and the withdrawal of troops belonging to the Turkish Armed Forces by bringing Turkey’s guarantor status to an end were also raised.
At present, the Turkish and Greek communities are seeking to arrive at a compromise on these conditions. Yet none of these measures is intended to strengthen the bonds and increase love between people on the island. They have all been set out in line with political interests and those of interested states.
Conditions such as limiting populations and regions are a far cry from the concepts of peace and neighbourliness. The aim is clearly a bigoted attack aimed at ethnic identity in the population. In the event that these conditions are implemented, peace and feelings of unity and oneness on the island will be further damaged, rather than improved.
The special canton regions planned for the Greeks and Turks on the island will also lead to division. Regions intended for the benefit of Greeks only – or Turks only – will obviously bring nothing to the concepts of peace and brotherhood. This decision to build a federal structure and to support division, when the peoples of the island who lived together in peace for many years, and who share family ties and traditions, and who are few in number and economically weak really need to be brought together, is not a reasonable one.
A restriction on public activities will reduce the productivity of the work force on the island. There can be no economic regeneration with sector-based and race-based divisions. Economic renewal can only be possible when the peoples are content; division and separation only ever make people uneasy. The world is full of examples of this. Therefore, what really needs to be done is to consider the interests of the people of the island as a whole, rather than individual interests, and for everyone to do the very best they can.
The economy on Cyprus has failed to grow in tandem with the very lethargic growth in bonds of love over the years. The people of the island have for years been living far beneath their economic potential. If a union of love can be established, then energy resources around the island can be opened up for use, agricultural productivity can be increased and tourist activities can be stepped up.
To cite a very recent instance, the Peace Water Project between Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) is sufficient to meet the island’s water needs for 50 years. It would of course benefit everyone on the island to be able to use a common water resource, and this is certainly what the inhabitants want. What is needed in order for joint use to be possible is a union of love aimed at the regeneration of the people of the island, and not agreements and policies based on self-interest and realpolitik.
Turkey has always regarded the TRNC as a national issue and has always considered the freedoms of the Turks on the island at the same level as those of Turkish citizens. Turkey’s status as guarantor, as a friend and older brother, is therefore indispensible. In addition, it must be understood that if the proposed conditions and solutions do not strengthen union and unity and reinforce the bonds of love among people, there will inevitably be a further increase in divisions and disagreements. The Greeks and Turks living on the island are both very fine peoples with close ties to one another; ways must be sought to fix the love and strengthen the brotherhood between these two peoples. However, if language and plans that would lead to divisions between the two peoples are adopted, it is these two fine peoples who will suffer. We will not allow that.
Therefore, the solution to Cyprus lies in the building of solidarity, a turning away from bigoted ways of thinking, brotherly values must be given priority over political calculations and that is only possible by setting aside relations based on self-interest and advantage. Only then can levels of prosperity and the general quality of life on the island be improved and economic development take place.
Turkey and Greece, both guarantor countries, have important responsibilities. In addition to economic support for the TRNC, Turkey must also provide moral support for the building of love and peace. Likewise, Greece must adopt the same approach as a matter of urgency. The basis of moral support must be the unification of the Greeks and Turks on the island in unity and solidarity. Only then can a realistic and lasting solution be possible.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.