November 26, 2022

An interesting commentary on the talks about to resume in Geneva by Turkish Cypriot Journalist Funda Gumesh.
It was first published in the Cyprus Weekly, to see the original article please click here

The Caped Crusaders

By Funda Gumush

This week is all about Mont Pelerin, the Swiss resort where Cypriot leaders Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci and their respective teams have taken themselves off to, in hope of healing this 50-year-old bleeding wound called the Cyprus problem.

Obviously, Mont Pelerin is not the only item on the agenda this week; Wednesday morning most of the world woke up to the surprise win by Donald Trump in the US presidential elections… The man who once told People’s Magazine that, if he ran for president, he would run as a Republican as they were the dumbest in the country. Wow, great one to start off with, Mr President-elect!

But back to Cyprus…

Truth be told, until the talks moved to Switzerland for ‘Camp David’ style talks, I had never heard of Mont Pelerin. At least, not geographically. ‘Mont’ in Turkish means jacket and ‘pelerin’ means cape! However, snowy landscapes aside, I think everyone there will need more than a jacket and cape to keep the chill of the naysayers at bay.

At the moment, there’s an air of cautious optimism. It is nothing like 2003-2004. I remember going to pro-solution rallies in north Nicosia where everyone was excited about the prospect that finally the island would be united again. People were looking ahead. At the time, the Annan plan was widely available to read and people were able to understand what it was about.

Presently, there is nothing to read or digest; nothing to chew the fat over, so to speak. All we know is what the leaders say in their statements or what we read in the press. These are sometimes tailored to specific audiences, so, even then, you don’t know if you have the right information.

People on both sides of the divide have a right to know how the solution will affect them, not only as a whole, but on a personal level as well. People with property on either side of the divide want to know the impact if a settlement is reached; how it will affect their business, daily life and future to come.

Meanwhile, media reports are saying the two leaders and their teams are spending most of their time together. This is heartwarming to hear, but it doesn’t mean that at the end of the day they will agree on the issues on the table.

I feel, however, that there are forces on both sides of the island, and probably outside as well, waiting to dynamite the process with unnecessary statements. Isn’t it always the case – when the cat’s away, the mice play? The leaders leave for Switzerland and the statements about how these talks are a non-starter soon fill up the newspapers. Why don’t they give this process a chance to play out? The negotiations have been going on 50 years – let them go on for a couple of more months. What is there to lose?

Everyone is aware of why the naysayers are against a settlement and ideally how they would like Cyprus to be. But division is unsustainable; annexation to Turkey is not the answer.

Nobody wants to lose their gained rights, but, somewhere along the line, you need to give and take. I know this is a very simplistic view and there are more underlying issues to thrash out. But, as I’ve said before, I believe something is only attainable if you work for it and compromise. It’s like marriage; each partner is not always right and cannot always have their way. If you don’t accept these terms, then you choose to lead separate lives.

I don’t want to sit in front of the television again and shed tears because of a failed referendum… So let’s give this our best shot. The leaders actually get along this time and are the best opportunity to make something happen. But only if they are supported by their respective communities. So, come on people, #Unitedbyhope!


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