50 Year Long History
UNFICYP in Cyprus
Are the winds of change blowing?
By Chris Elliott
For anybody that has visited the centre of the divided city of Lefkosa/Nicosia one of the beautiful old buildings is the restored and preserved Bedesten which was built in the 14th century in a gothic style and rests on top of the remains of an earlier Byzantine building and during its lifetime it has been witness to the horrors of much strife and many administrations. During these many centuries it has been used for many purposes including a church but today since its very sensitive restoration, it is used for cultural events to project the peace and tranquillity that it deserves..
On Friday the 4th April 2014, I was invited to the opening of a photo exhibition entitled “50 Year Long History- UNFICYP in Cyprus” which was organized under the auspices of the TRNC, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Özdil Nami and he made the following poignant and thought provoking address:
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Distinguished Ambassadors and
We would like you to invite you to a visual tour encompassing the last 50 years of Cyprus. Blue bereted UN soldiers arrived in Cyprus fifty years ago amid political chaos and rampant violence where Turkish Cypriots endured ever deteriorating conditions.
This exhibition tries to play a modest part in documenting these troubled five decades; reminding everyone including ourselves that Cyprus is still a divided country and those fifty years is more than enough.
Cyprus and Turkish Cypriots have gone through many ordeals during the past half century; decolonisation, civil strife, a failed state, mass expulsions, massacres, life in ghettos for many years and an eventual liberation followed by countless rounds of talks that failed to reach a comprehensive settlement.
Winds of hope are once again blowing on both sides of the island following the resumption of comprehensive talks; our expectation is that with political leadership and volition our island will embrace peace for good. Alas;
Fifty years is enough!
The exhibition captures instances of our collective memories. It is a visual itinerary of how our lives have taken turns in these past five decades; how Cyprus missed the opportunity to become an island of peace, how we failed to build a Cyprus for all. We hope this exhibition will help us draw lessons from the past we missed and shed light to our future with our fifty years of loss.
We leave you alone with the exhibition with the hope that we will forgive without forgetting, face the past without blaming and turn into gains for the future.
There were so many people present at this event speaking in a variety of languages and I saw Former President, Mehmet Ali Talat, Prime Minister Özkan Yorgancıoğlu and a dear friend, Willy Lindh who was a former Swedish UN Peace keeper here in Cyprus during those troubled times. Yes just looking at those pictures on display we may well have had perhaps different thoughts but what most would agree on is that what a waste of opportunity the last fifty years presented. God willing men will come to accept and learn to live with the truth of the past and its mistakes and come together to agree a future in peace and harmony.