By Fikri Toros…..
President of the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce
It is an undeniable fact that the decision by the Greek Cypriot Parliament to commemorate “Enosis” at public schools led to a serious disappointment and enhanced the perception of insecurity within the Turkish Cypriot Community. The decision was not only very unfortunate and unacceptable, but also very untimely.
This was precisely why the revocation of the legislative bill became our precondition for the resumption of the full-fledged negotiations. I welcome yesterday’s (22nd March) favourable voting at the Education committee as the first of these steps to nullify the decision.
In view of the polls which show that it is only under 5% of the Greek Cypriot community that supports Enosis today, I believe that the settlement process should not be allowed to fall victim to this decision of the Greek Cypriot Parliament; and pro-settlement parties need to be given the chance to rectify their mistake, in order to pave the way for a comprehensive settlement and stabilize our Island. I sincerely believe that we need to strive for the success of the settlement process as its failure will lead to regional tensions and result in deprivations; not only for our community and for the whole island, but also for the wider region.
With regard to our political equality; this is one of the main parameters of the settlement process that is being carried out under the UN auspices, thus it is not open to discussion and it is our minimum expectation that it should be respected. Our President has stated on many occasions that he will not sign an agreement that does not accommodate the terms which assures our political equality. It must be clearly understood that the accommodation of this parameter is a ‘sine qua non’ for the majority approval of any settlement by the Turkish Cypriot Community.
As regards the issue of security and guarantees, a model needs to be developed which safeguards both Communities’ security concerns and is in line with the criteria of the 21st century. One that satisfies Turkey and one that will provide our political and economic security as well. This issue can only be solved if both sides as well as the guarantor powers show empathy to each other’s concerns and expectations. If either side leaves its reconciliatory and compromising approach and insists on its own minimum expectations, no one should expect any progress to be made.
I strongly believe that the Turkish Cypriot Community deserves a future free of isolation and embargoes, a future that will deem our integration with the world and with the international community. Such a future can only be achieved with the consideration of the scenarios that are accepted and respected by the international community. Thus, I am of the opinion that our society needs to be made aware about the facts and should be guided objectively about the steps that need to be taken for achieving a successful outcome that will lead us all to a better future.