His­tory is a les­son we have yet to learn

Just Words...

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - CYPRUS - By Char­lie Char­alam­bous

There is go­ing to be some static com­ing from New York next week when the Cyprus prob­lem gets a men­tion in the cor­ri­dors of the United Na­tions be­fore more se­ri­ous mat­ters are at­tended to.

And this is where those who in­vest time and en­ergy in the com­plex­i­ties of the is­land’s pol­i­tics of di­vi­sion miss the point.

The in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity is not wait­ing with bated breath for the next in­stal­ment of a peace process that has gone off the rails with lit­tle fuel left in the tank to get it back on track to a known des­ti­na­tion.

Just like the botched Brexit job, no­body knows where the Cyprus re­uni­fi­ca­tion road­show is headed or whether those ped­dling the pro­mo­tional brochures of a con­flict-free hol­i­day par­adise ac­tu­ally be­lieve in what they are sell­ing.

Pres­i­dent Anas­tasi­ades is go­ing to meet UN chief An­to­nio Guter­res on the side­lines of the UN gen­eral assem­bly about the prospects of jump-start­ing stalled Cyprus peace ne­go­ti­a­tions.

He is ob­vi­ously go­ing to make all the right sounds to as­sure the Greek Cypri­ots are ready to mean­ing­fully en­gage in a fresh start – but will Guter­res be­lieve him?

Nicosia might talk a good game, but where is the ev­i­dence that the chore­og­ra­phy has changed since the last dance at Crans-Mon­tana where the band stopped play­ing be­fore the show’s fi­nale?

Cypriot lead­ers have met only once in the last 14 months as the lan­guage of diplo­macy has soured into au­di­ble re­crim­i­na­tions about how the other side is show­ing a lack of will­ing­ness. But where are the large-scale con­fi­dence­build­ing mea­sures to en­cour­age peo­ple-to-peo­ple con­tact.

This ap­pears to be re­stricted to Greek Cypri­ots go­ing north for cheaper petrol, medicine and casi­nos while Turk­ish Cypri­ots came over to shop at su­per­mar­kets and Jumbo.

Three years ago, the lead­ers agreed that two more cross­ings across the Green Line should open to fa­cil­i­tate free move­ment but the Dh­ery­nia and Le­fka cross­ings have yet to open.

Need­less to say, there seems to be no big wave of public op­ti­mism among Greek and Turk­ish Cypri­ots to of­fer any real en­cour­age­ment that a re­uni­fi­ca­tion deal is pos­si­ble any time soon.

Af­ter the talks col­lapsed in Switzer­land in July 2017, the United Na­tions called time out for a pe­riod of re­flec­tion to un­pick the bones of the most re­cent fail­ure in or­der to re­group and go again.

While politi­cians at home have been look­ing down at their feet dur­ing this in­terim pe­riod the re­gional cli­mate has turned slightly more ag­gres­sive with Turkey in a bel­liger­ent mood.

Nicosia may not be able to pull a rab­bit out of the hat in the con­text of Cyprus ne­go­ti­a­tions, but it has been busy ce­ment­ing re­gional al­liances with Is­rael and Egypt as it looks to play the en­ergy card to make it­self an as­set which needs pro­tect­ing by Wash­ing­ton.

Hope­fully, by be­com­ing a re­gional en­ergy hub with Euro­pean and Amer­i­can in­ter­ests at stake, Cyprus cal­cu­lates it would be too valu­able an ally for it to be al­lowed to be bul­lied by a Turkey op­posed to its en­ergy pol­icy out­side of a com­pre­hen­sive set­tle­ment.

Pres­i­dent Anas­tasi­ades was in Lon­don this week pro­mot­ing Cyprus as an ideal in­vest­ment grade des­ti­na­tion with its ro­bust econ­omy, con­ducive tax regime, pro­fes­sional work­force and warm weather. What could undo all that is the in­sta­bil­ity that a lack of a peace plan cre­ates for the fu­ture of the is­land.

If the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity is not con­vinced that the Cypri­ots are com­mit­ted to ne­go­ti­at­ing a re­uni­fi­ca­tion deal, pre­fer­ring to stay on their side of the wall, then the UN could pull its peace­keep­ers.

There are myr­iad con­flicts in the world where death and de­struc­tion de­mand ac­tion and re­sources, many would ar­gue that Cyprus isn’t one of those places any­more.

And the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil may de­cide the money could be bet­ter spent else­where at a time its peace­keep­ing mis­sions are un­der scru­tiny.

This is sup­posed to be a Cypriot-led lead­er­ship is the miss­ing in­gre­di­ent that politi­cians from bak­ing a recipe for suc­cess. process, pre­vents but our

For the past 44 years, we have been served a cold meat buf­fet of wish­ful think­ing, delu­sional pa­tri­o­tism and poor ex­cuses.

Find­ing a so­lu­tion that pleases ev­ery­body will not ma­te­ri­alise while any com­pro­mise is viewed as harder to swal­low than a re­place­ment meal.

And as time rolls on the zeal for a Cyprus set­tle­ment weak­ens with every pass­ing gen­er­a­tion – gen­er­a­tions that are not in­te­grated with the other com­mu­nity or feel they have any­thing in com­mon.

Do the chil­dren of refugees see them­selves as much any­more – the Cyprus they live in is a ho­mogenised one where there is no sense of a multi-cul­tural iden­tity.

Turk­ish Cypri­ots are also strug­gling to keep their Cypriot iden­tity as the in­flu­ence of Turkey and Er­do­gan’s own brand of Is­lam per­vades their so­ci­ety while the econ­omy is in cri­sis as the Turk­ish Lira tum­bles.

Re­mov­ing di­vi­sion can bring ben­e­fits for all Cypri­ots but only if viewed as a win-win sit­u­a­tion rather than los­ing a limb to save the other one.

In some ways we are still stuck in the past, obliv­i­ous that his­tory has taken its course. We are hav­ing to deal with the mis­takes of our fa­thers and the in­jus­tices suf­fered through the fail­ings of blink­ered politi­cians and diplo­mats.

Ar­guably there is no tan­gi­ble im­pe­tus to stick Cyprus back to­gether again be­cause Cypri­ots have grown tired of bro­ken prom­ises on an is­land where we dare not dream for too long.

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