By Ismail Veli…….
Some of the most common phrases heard by travellers/holidaymakers to the Greek Cypriot (GC) part of Cyprus is the Berlin wall, divided Island and until 2003 the “Turkish side won’t allow people to cross”. That was until the late Turkish Cypriot President, Rauf Denktas, unilaterally opened the borders from the North in April of that year. That allowed people to cross the green line for the first time since 1974. It was, and still is a common myth that all the border crossings were hampered by the Turkish Cypriots (TC). In fact, as many impartial holidaymakers to the south before that period will testify, anyone crossing to the North was obligated to return back before the evening or risk a heavy fine for staying in an ‘illegally occupied part of Cyprus’. At the same time the official Greek line is that ‘there are no embargoes on the Turkish Cypriots’. If that was the case why is the GC government spending millions of Euros annually in lobbying countries to maintain the ‘non existent embargoes’. This after all is the main thrust of the GC attempts to bring economic pressure designed to force the TCs into concessions at the negotiation table.
This is pretty clear to all concerned, except of course to the Greek Cypriot people who bring no pressure on their leaders to reverse what they consider a legitimate right. After all, the bad old Turks have stolen Greek homes, occupy 40% of the Island etc etc. The fact that the South has used Turkish property including Larnaca Airport, the main power station in Limasol which blew up on 11 July 2011 in the massive explosion at the Zygi naval base, not to mention the lucrative vineyards in Paphos which supplies the wine industry is off little or no consequence. The fact that 60/70.000 Turkish Cypriots, 50% of the population, have also lost their homes is played down, after all the GC authorities are protecting Turkish homes until their return. But what will they return to? many of the TC villages have been razed to the ground. See maps 1 and 2 of destroyed Turkish villages in South Cyprus, click here and click here
There are over 100.000 foreign residents in the South who have no title deeds, many of their homes built on former TC land. The problem just goes on and on. The Annan plan which would have addressed a very large part of the property dispute has been vilified to be the ‘plan of the imperialist West’, even though the GC side’s economic survival is dependent on the Western world.
Back to our subject of closed borders and embargoes. Many level headed people have for a long time maintained that all they do is cement the partition of the Island. It ensures that TCs can only rely on Turkey for finance, investment, trade and just about everything under the sky. Is this what the GC leaders have wanted or have sought?? Can they not see the disastrous consequences that the Embargoes have caused in the permanent division of the people. In fact the UK, constantly blamed by both sides for helping the division of the Island, rarely says anything that would please any Cypriot, Greek or Turkish, and yet it was the Foreign Secretary of the British government, James Callaghan, who advised Clerides in 1974 against the closing of the borders and ports in the North. Below is a letter released in 2005 which confirms what many of us have said all along. The GC leadership’s refusal to accept responsibility has now become well known, but what of the future? My guess is that after lying to their people for decades on many issues, no GC leader has the courage to reverse the policies that have led Cyprus into the depths of the abyss. Sadly many of us can see no way out of this conundrum.
EXCERPTS from a telegram from British Foreign Secretary James Callaghan dated 11 October 1974 entitled ‘entry to Cyprus’ sent to 10 Downing Street.
“The action which the Cyprus government have taken in removing the three ports in the Turkish controlled area from the list of approved points of entry to the republic is in our view a diversive and undesirable measure.
Clerides (the Greek Cypriot leader)… is ill advised if he agrees to measures which in effect treat the North as if it were not part of the Republic. We think it would be prudent for his administration to respect and assert the principle of free movement throughout the Republic even if the Turkish Cypriots will not do so.
Does Clerides not appreciate the danger of consolidating a kind of Berlin Wall which once established will be difficult to dismantle? Whatever the practice of the Turks, we think that in present circumstances the Greek Cypriots would find it advantageous to maintain that all are entitled to cross the line at any point, without documentation…
Paul Martin in The Times of 10 October asserts that foreigners having visas issued by the autonomous Turkish Cypriot administration will be expelled because the visas are held to be invalid and they are in the eyes of the Greek Cypriots illegal immigrants. But UK citizens do not require visas for the Republic. Would it not be sufficient for the Clerides administration to efface any visa which they regard as unnecessary or undesirable?
Please speak to Clerides on these lines and point out to him the effect of this decision seems to us to be likely to increase the division of Cyprus and indeed almost to give the blessing of the Greek Cypriot authorities to it.”