“Towards an agreement for a Reunified Federal Cyprus: What is lacking? Reconciliation or Political Will or both or more?”
Meeting of the Leaders of the Political Parties at Ledra Palace, hosted by the United Democrats, 27th April 2016.
The generation into which many of us here were born found an on-going discussion about a new future for Cyprus, a discussion that was initiated by the previous generation and still remains inconclusive.
Throughout the decades, lack of courage, lack of political will, lack of reconciliation and most importantly lack of an enlightened constructive vision about how peace, living together and sharing would make everybody more safe and more wealthy, than division and discourse, this lack of reconciliation and constructive vision led to the waste of the lives of two generations of Cypriots; and risks destroying the lives of even the third and currently the fourth generation of Cypriots since independence in 1960.
The Cyprus problem remains as one of the longest outstanding political problems internationally.
And one wonders why this has been so.
Is it a matter of two communities or two cultures not being able to reconcile past conflicts and differences, not being able to trust each other and to live together?
Is it lack of political will and political courage?
Is it vested interests and intervention by the so called motherlands?
Or by the mighty powers of the World?
Or is it vested local interests who are building power and wealth on the basis of division;
And as such would have nothing change at any cost and in any case?
In this regard, it is worryingly interesting that though reconciliation should only be an issue for the older generations which had experienced actual conflict, reconciliation has become an even more difficult task for the younger generations, who have been taught at school and by the mass media to mistrust; and who never had own positive experience of co-habitation in the past.
Hence to the extent that now political will may exist on the part of leaders to move towards an agreement for a solution reunifying Cyprus, the individual Cypriots on whom the politicians rely to get their votes have been trained by the system throughout their lives to accept exactly the opposite.
There was nothing different than what my daughter was taught at elementary school concerning our History from what I was taught at school, and I understand that current school children are being taught more or less the same things.
Reconciliation is indeed needed to enable people to live productively together.
Looking at the example of Europe, the European Union was born out of the ashes of the second World War, through the bringing together of old foes, to achieve lasting peace and prosperity in Europe. This outright vision should never evade us; neither should the way it was done, i.e, the bringing together of old foes.
Now that efforts are being repeated to find an agreed solution, the aim of which would be to reunite our divided people and our divided country under a federal constitution, the aim should be to ensure that intercommunal enmity is replaced by a common constructive vision of our future where we would all consider ourselves primarily as Cypriots living and working together for our common benefit and safety; While at the same time respecting each others ethnic origin, be it Greek Cypriot or Turkish Cypriot. In other words, bicommunality should be a source of richness in a federal Cyprus, not a source of conflict.
Furthermore, reconciliation should not be set as a prerequisite for moving towards a political agreement. The two should go hand in hand: for it is through living and working together in a renewed framework where everybody would feel safe and would be allowed to understand that through working together there would be benefit and peace for all, it is through living and working together towards a common purpose that reconciliation can essentially and in practice be achieved.
In view of the above it is the suggestion of the United Democrats that a Reconciliation Committee is now set up to facilitate the process towards the attainment of a commonly agreed solution for reunifying our country and to support the implementation of such an agreed solution once it becomes reality.
Reconciliation was tried in South Africa and it works in Northern Ireland. We need to make it work in Cyprus as well.
An important dimension of reconciliation has to do with the sad issue of missing persons.
In a recent article of his, the lawyer Achilleas Demetriades, points to the fact that the Committee for the Identification of Missing Persons cannot proceed any more due simply to the fact that there are still one thousand Greek Cypriots and three hundred Turkish Cypriots whose burial place is unknown to the officials of the two Communities but, most likely known by those involved with the killings or the burials. He argues very strongly that the pain and sorrow of so many of the relatives of those dead cannot be met unless their remains are found and given back to them for proper burial. In his suggestion he recommends a legal procedure by which a Reconciliation Committee, or a Truth Committee as he names it, could obtain information by people who know about the missing and who might otherwise by afraid to give relevant information.
Furthermore, Reconciliation cannot only have a bicommunal horizon.
If we are indeed going to follow the successful example of the Europeans who built a new future for them after bringing together the countries and people involved in two World Wars before, then we also have to allow the Cypriots to see the benefits of peaceful cooperation of a reunited federal Cyprus with all its neighbouring countries, including Turkey and Greece.
Given the volatile environment in the geographical vicinity of Cyprus, the Resolution of the Cyprus problem can serve as a message of hope.
The area of the Eastern Mediterranean needs a stable Cyprus, while without a solution Cyprus risks seeing the crisis entering its doors .
If Cyprus remains trapped in its current form of division, it can easily become entangled in the overall instability of the area.
Alternatively if Cyprus is peacefully reunified and relations with all its neighbours normalise, it can then significantly contribute to the resolution of differences between other parties in the region, or at least serve as a pillar of stability, growth and multicultural cooperation.
Praxoula Antoniadou Kyriacou
Hosting Party of the meeting of the Leaders of the Politcal Parties at Ledra Palace
On 27th April 2016