OPINION

Self-determination for Cyprus

Many bloodbaths, genocides and enslavements have been carried out around the world in the name of «the people» or «the nation.» This «in the name of,» however, has rarely personified genuine public will. Public tolerance or cooperation has been ensured either by force or by orchestrated propaganda. What Cyprus witnessed during Easter was a rare and spontaneous popular movement. Within five days of the lifting of the ban on movement, more than 70,000 Greek Cypriots had crossed into the occupied territories from which they were expelled 28 years ago. And about 35,000 Turkish Cypriots visited their former residences. This popular movement of reconciliation can be seen as the first step toward the correction of a historical mistake: a top-down attempt to divide a people who had coexisted in harmony for centuries despite their ethnic, religious and cultural differences. After 28 years of territorial, political and economic partition, these people are now expressing their will for reunion and peaceful coexistence. In this will, there is no room for ulterior motives or self-interested objectives like those which have haunted the ruling elites. A united Cyprus within the EU is not threatened by internal conflict. The Turkish Cypriots have realized that EU membership will better guarantee their security and prosperity than Rauf Denktash and Ankara’s military elite, a historical misfit. Greek Cypriots, for their part, rightly believe that by expanding their European privileges to the island’s other community, they can diminish if not eliminate the assets of the Turkish military victory, which have prevented a compromise solution so far. The mass-driven reconciliation movement on Cyprus expresses the common interest of both communities, under the umbrella of popular self-determination – a dogma the Greek Cypriots invoked some 50 years ago.