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Cyprus historic ironies
by Thanos Kalamidas
2010-10-01 09:26:31
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It is definitely heartbreaking to see a nation celebrating its 50 years of independence while a part of this nation is under a 36-year heavy fog and the people divided - oddly the very same people who fought together for this independence - and with only hopes and little acts to see the light in the end. And oddly this light might coming from one of the most serious decisions the Cypriot government did the last twenty years; to join the European Union.

Actually I’m really curious if and how they are going to celebrate the independence day in the northern side of the island nation accompanied with thousands of settlers who have come from the further parts of Turkey, ingrained with the Turkish nationalism and believing that the only solution is the unification with Turkey and an occupation Turkish army that counts to thousands. Oddly in the free side where the vast majority are Greek-Cypriots and despite the fact that before the independence the feeling for unification with Greece was strong the people after the independence and especially after the invasion resurrected a very strong national identity.

I know it sounds sad especially under the circumstances with hundreds dead behind but the invasion brought out the national pride, the strong historical identity and the consciousness necessary to a nation to thrive and stand up despite the difficulties. And Cyprus has a long history with difficulties. It was the Assyrians and the Egyptians in the beginning and then Greeks with Great Alexander and Romans. Actually during the roman times Cyprus was the place for exile for ambitious emperors. Then it was the Templar Knights and the Venetians and in the meantime pirates and vandals slaughtering and robbing the island and its citizens for their wealth and anything valuable including their lives. And then of course the Ottoman Empire came to finish what the pirates had started and the British Empire last so the Cypriots had a good experience of the meaning of the word colonization after the word occupation, you see it was the 20th century after all.

Through all this time - and here we are talking about centuries - the Cypriots kept their spirit and their national consciousness with the pick of this consciousness the moment Makarios appeared in the Cypriot history. The man that led the nation to its independence despite all the internal struggles and opposing the all mighty British empire. The internal struggles were due to a present the Ottoman Empire left behind, a Turkish minority that balanced between trying to find its place in the Cypriot identity and the reach for mother Turkey. Naturally action brought reaction and the end violence that escalated dangerously in 1950s and even more after the independence. The rest is history, a very dark history and very unfair for the Cypriot people doesn’t matter which side they belong because as I pointed in my yesterday’s column even for the Turkish Cypriots their saviour has become their nemesis and nightmare.

During the last four decades Cyprus has fought in every single field for its survival against sometimes all the odds but to my opinion joining the European Union was the mark and the beginning of a new era for the island nation. First of all it was the end of any kind of dependency from the United Kingdom, especially the economic dependence, the EU membership freed Cyprus from the British pound and the British economic system. The second major point is that the end of the need for guarantees powers. Cyprus according to the independence agreements was always under the custody, guarantees and protection of Greece, Turkey and Britain. Now Cyprus is a member of a strong alliance as equal and a union where one of the ‘protector’ powers is only candidate.

Actually in this case is not only that turkey is a candidate in a union where Cyprus is a full member but her future membership depends on Cyprus. I presume that’s historic irony. Turkey is standing in very dangerous crossroads for her future having a heavy package behind her and seen her future and prosperity tied with her western orientation and especially with EU. But if Turkey will not satisfy at least in the Cyprus issue the Union I’m afraid the road will look longer day after day and Turkey will remain in the candidacy hall for long time seen countries like Serbia and Ukraine joining the club.

In the mean time Cyprus is standing up one more time. Nowadays the island nation is a full member of the Union and part of the Euro-zone under equal terms with every other member and to my opinion this is the point that marks the total independence of a nation that deserves it for centuries.

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