Ulaş Barış, writing for the Kıbrıs Postası, asked four Greek-Cypriot journalists to give their view regarding the negotiations. All four of them seem hopeful for a solution as they believe that this might be the time for it. The Cypriot Puzzle has translated the opinions of the journalists and presents them in English.
Thanasis Athanasiou, a journalist at Sigmalive website said:
“We are now at a critical point regarding negotiations. There are signs that this time the whole process will reach to a positive conclusion as Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots have started addressing their trauma (1963-1974). People from both communities are uttering unspoken, until now, truths and admissions regarding the damage perpetuated in the past upon each other. At the same time, the leaders are now trying to show the way: “We are friends and you can also be friends.”
It seems that Mustafa Akinci, the Turkish Cypriot leader, is a competent diplomat as he has managed to maintain the good spirit and ambiance created with the Greek Cypriot side, without causing the reaction of Turkey.
Judging from the positive climate that has been created though, one should not assume that the Greek Cypriots are prepared to accept any solution what so ever or even a solution resembling the Annan Plan. The Greek Cypriot mistrust against the Turkish Cypriot leadership lies on Turkey’s presence in the occupied areas and on the fact that Turkey has an active role to play in the whole Cyprus issue. As the internationally condemned Turkish occupation is still in existence, there are steps that need to be taken by Turkey as a sign of good will. Still though, there is a great momentum while the people from both communities are now educated and more resistant to propaganda. I believe that the Turkish Cypriots have realised that in reality they are themselves, also, under Turkish occupation.
I hold the belief that on this point, the Turkish Cypriots need the help of the Republic of Cyprus in order to stop being enslaved to Turkey and be allowed to live in a reunified Cyprus, without motherlands and guarantees.
The most important thing is that both the Greek Cypriots as well as the Turkish Cypriots now call for an end to partition, but there are many steps that need to be covered still.”
Stella Michael who works as a journalist for CYBC, has stated that she is very hopeful with respect to the process and the presence of ‘common goals’ between the communities strengthen this hope.
Michael said “when there are ‘common goals’ one can always be hopeful. I think Turkish and Greek Cypriots are part of the same community. If they lived as friends in the past, and they did, they will definitely find ways to live again as friends.”
Michael has also drawn attention to the ‘image of moving together’ that has been conveyed in the ongoing negotiations between the leaders. She explained that “It is very important that during the negotiations, the leaders act within an image of doing everything together, and send this message. I believe this is a positive thing.”
Nevertheless, Stella Michael has indicated that there are blurred spots with respect to the process and that not knowing what a solution will look like is creating anxiety.
Michael said “But the main problem is how the two leaders will ensure sustainable peace. The fact that the answer to this question is not certain is creating anxieties within both communities. What kind of agreement the leaders will reach on the property issue; solving it on the basis of universal human rights and freedoms are very important matters.”
She has pointed out that “So far, we have seen both Anastasiades and Akinci act on the basis of the ‘win-win’ principle. Besides, we have seen both leaders understanding the importance of a common motherland and emphasizing this often”. Also, Michael has warned that ‘if deal the two leaders reach is not perceived as ‘fair’ by the communities, then we will drown in the shadow of the past. I hope they know it better.”
Rally Papageorgiou who is a journalist at the Cyprus News Agency has mentioned that despite the fact that herself and a majority of the community view the process in ‘reluctant optimism’, she observes some concerns among the Greek Cypriots.
Papageorgiou has said “ I am ‘reluctantly optimistic’. A majority of the Greek Cypriot community is reluctantly optimistic that something may come out of the negotiations this time. Greek Cypriots want and expect a solution but they are worried with respect to 2-3 issues.”
“First of these is the uncertainty of actions of Turkey and its President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at final instance. Second issue is the status of EU in security-guarantee matters. Greek Cypriots believe that security and guarantee given by the EU will provide a better solution. Akinci’s approach with respect to the EU, his statements in which he has often repeated that the common future of the island lies with the EU has strengthened the positive image he holds among the Greek Cypriots.” She said that “A third point is that it is not the church or the political parties that will say, instead of the Greek Cypriot community, the last word on a possible plan. This is related to the contents of a plan and how it will be explained to the community.”
“Security, guarantees and property are very important matters. Informing the community is crucial for explaining what is at stake in these matters.” Papageorgiou does not hide her concerns regarding this point, “This is necessary for both the communities. The communities should be provided right information in the right manner and they should make their own decisions in light of these information.”
She finished her words by saying that “We should not forget that a decision taken by one community will affect the future of the other. We live on the same piece of land and we do not wish the situation to continue as it is.”
Yiorgos Kakouris who writes for Politis Newspaper said:
“No matter what the situation has been, I’ve always been hopeful about the Cyprus problem – my faith was shaken when Dervis Eroglu was elected, but I remember thinking “if the will for a solution survived the Papadopoulos presidency, it can survive anything”.
I believe that the time has come when the end of the current situation is no longer just an ideological priority, but a practical priority both for the people as well as for the political classes.
Greek Cypriot politicians know that they can’t navigate a semi-occupied state through an age during which both the EU and the region are on the brink of falling apart. They know that nationalist rhetoric will not improve the economy, will not create prospects for the country. Even nationalists are now cautious but ready to discuss change.
Turkish Cypriot politicians realize that recognition of the TRNC is a pipe dream and that interweaving economy and politics of the north with the Greek Cypriots is the only way out, especially at a time where Turkey is both at a crossroads and not really ready to maintain a costly and useless to its foreign policy relations state in occupied Cyprus.
Most importantly, people are more ready to consider a different kind of future for Cyprus than they had been in 2004. Greek Cypriots specifically have seen during the banking crisis of 2013 that “heroic refusals” with no realistic alternative plan lead to worse outcomes. And even more importantly, people from both sides are realizing that it’s in their interest to get this over and done with. We can solve the practical issues now and get our country up and running again – and then start the long process of reconciling our histories and really solving the Cyprus Problem. “
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