COMMENT

Dual paradox

By Pantelis Boukalas

First paradox: The Greek-Cypriot people are threatened with political, economic and diplomatic reprisals not because they breached some international treaty, nor because they misbehaved, but rather because they exercised the democratic right of deciding and voting at will. Britain, the US and the EU are threatening to punish them, not because they violated international law, nor because they broke some previous agreement, nor because they defied some UN resolution, but because their vote gave meaning to the concepts «referendum,» «democracy» and «popular sovereignty.» However, it seems that these widely praised notions are acceptable only when their content complies with the outside recommendations. Second paradox: Irked by the 76 percent «no» vote, people who shape public opinion (politicians, journalists, analysts, diplomats, bureaucrats) blame the island's division on the Greek Cypriots. So the Turkish invasion, the occupation of Cypriot territory, the presence of tens of thousands of troops and settlers confer no responsibility on the Turkish side; they mean nothing to the international community. Foreign powers (who have in the past condemned all the above with repeated UN resolutions) now deem that these no longer block the path to reunification, that they are all legal and democratic. Similarly, the victim becomes the villain, and Greek Cypriots are accused of undermining reunification: not because they have outrightly and unthinkingly rejected all proposed solutions but because after participating in a democratic process - one set by the international community itself - they overwhelmingly rejected a specific peace plan, deeming that it did not guarantee a smooth reunification. So why are they now threatened with reprisals? Is free expression of one's opinion really a crime?

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