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Let's solve this

Uncle Sam was visiting our little island these past few days. And of course he did not come to Cyprus for a swim or to take interest in our historical heritage. He came here with the goal of influencing the decision making process regarding the Cypriot issue. However, this is not a new phenomenon. We all know very well that the Cypriot issue has been at the fore front of the considerations of so many foreign interests and powers. My question is: when will “Cypriots” finally take over the decision making process of the Cypriot issue and start taking decisions for themselves?

Our history is full of foreign interferences. Basically, one can argue that the last ‘all Cypriot’ administration was the ancient civilization of Chirokitia. After that our island has been treated as a piece of property that passed from Greeks, to Byzantines, to Europeans, then to Turks to the English and so on. We have been ruled by others for the vast majority of our history.

And then ‘independence’ was proclaimed in 1960,quite remarkable, given our history of foreign domination. But even that event was marred by external influences and interests. Our constitution was the product of discussions and negotiations between three foreign states (Great Britain, Greece and Turkey). In other words, our constitution was not the sovereign will of the Cypriot people but the mere ordersgiven by our previous ‘owners’. The influence of our foreign ‘motherlands’ was vivid and clear as the constitution identified Cypriots not as ‘Cypriots’ but rather as the ‘Greeks of Cyprus’ and the ‘Turks of Cyprus’ (Article 2 of the Constitution).

These foreign states not only gave us our constitution, our state, but they also forced us into accepting the first protocol of the constitution, the treaty of guarantee. By this treaty, Greece and Turkey gain the legal right to intervene in the Cypriot Republic in order to protect and aid their respective people. We all know where that led, when in 1974 Turkey invaded Cyprus in order to protect the Turkish people of Cyprus from the ethnic cleansing that the newly instated government purported to carry out. I am not discussing here the legal validity of the invasion nor whether the coup d’état was indeed a valid ground for intervention. I am simply pointing out that the invasion was a direct result of the constitutional provisions that foreign powers had imposed on us.Commonly, a state can legally invade another one only if it has the overwhelming support of the global community. In our case the legality of the invasion was a matter of our own voluntary inclusion of the abovementioned protocol.

When the Cypriot Republic became dysfunctional in 1963 the two communities started discussing a potential solution to this problem. One would have thought that within the context of ‘independence’ this was the chance for the Cypriots to express their own will and construct a state of their own liking. However, this did not turn out to be the case. We again turned to foreign powers in order to find a solution. Talks were held abroad under the guidance and supervision of the United Nations. In 1992 we began to discuss a solution based on a set of ideas coming from the then Secretary General of the U.N. Boutros-Boutros Ghali. The closest we ever came to a solution was in 2004, again based on a plan initiated by the then Secretary General of the U.N. Kofi Anan. My question then is: when are we going to hear of a ‘set of ideas ’ coming from ‘Yiannis’ or a proposed plan by ‘Huseyin’. Why do we keep allowing foreigners to tell us what to do with our future?

The present is no different. The Greek Cypriot negotiator visited Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot negotiator visited Greece a few months ago. We keep seeking the assistance of the E.U., the U.S.A. and Russia. We live on an island with troops from Turkey, Greece, Britain and the U.N. Each ‘side’ seeks partners and allies from abroad in order to win this ‘internal struggle’. The Greek Cypriot leadership invited Uncle Sam in order to pile up the pressure for the handing over of Famagusta to the Greek Cypriot administration. We want others to solve what is essentially our problem.

Let us not be fooled and believe that foreigners have our own interests as their prime consideration. They do not seek to solve the Cypriot puzzle with a view to our best interests. They seek to find a solution by which they will secure and further their own interests; just look at the British bases. This has been the case for centuries and it is naïve, to put it mildly, to believe that this is not the case anymore.
Therefore,I dream of an all-Cypriot initiative, aiming to take fate of the island in its own hands. Of course, there is the obvious issue of identity popping up here. After all who are these ‘Cypriots’? This is a big question best left for next time. Very briefly, some Cypriots are Greeks in origin and some are Turkish, some are British and some are from other E.U. members and some are immigrants that have come to this island and have made it their home for years. All people of Cyprus that consider this island as their home should get involved in solving the Cypriot puzzle.

So my analysis brings me to the conclusion that a lasting and effective solution to the Cypriot Puzzle can only come by the very inhabitants of the island. They are in the best position to evaluate, analyze and eventually propose a solution that will effectively end the Cypriot puzzle.

As a result, I propose that we turn the Cypriot Puzzle website into a platform for a grass root initiative which will participate in every step of the decision making process regarding the Cypriot issue can materialize. We can create ‘workshops’ and project groups on all the different aspects of the Cypriot puzzle such as the issue of property, of the constitution of a potential state, the issue of demilitarization etc. We should aim to include as many people as possible and seek the assistance of Cypriot experts in each field. At some point it’ll be necessary to arrange our own decision-making procedures in order to decide which conflicting proposals the initiative should adopt. At the end of the day we must be able to at least produce a consultation paper on each of the major aspects of the Cypriot issue and at the most optimistic extreme we could produce a fully worked out solution to the Cypriot puzzle.

If you share my feeling that Cypriots have effectively been excluded from the decision of our future and you feel that you indeed can and should actively participate in the creation of policies and ideas, regarding the Cypriot issue, then this is an opportunity to start working on it. Let us firstly, decide on our internal procedures and then start ‘recruiting’ more Cypriots that wish to offer their time, knowledge and energy in order to secure a future of their own making. I am unable to offer more on this initiative since it must be the product of a collective effort of Cypriot individuals.

Andy Georgiou

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2 Comments

  1. Cypriot refugee at age 12 said:

    Do you think the settlers that Turkey brought to Cyprus should have a say in a settlement involving only Cypriots? Do you think it is realistic to expect the Cypriots to solve the problem while the occupation of the northern part of Cyprus by Turkey is ongoing? I think not. Only when Turkey withdraws its illegal military occupation forces from the island there can be a chance for the Cypriots to find asolution. And in the meantime, lets see Greece denounce the Treaty of Guarantees and ask colonial Britain do the same. Curiously, you leave the British out of the picture even though they actively created the problem in the first place.

  2. Andy said:

    Thank you for your comment. First of all I want to clarify that I have indeed included the British in the picture by mentioning the British bases. Secondly and most interestingly and importantly, it is a difficult question of who the ‘Cypriots’ are. I agree with you that a serious consideration must be given to this question in order to make sure that a plan comes indeed from the rightful stakeholders. I am in no position however, to comment about specific groups of people before we have a set of data about them in order to inform our discussion.

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