| Cyprus Problem |Phileleftheros



When we came to Cyprus as a family in September 2001, the way in which the media, including Sigma where I worked at the time, referred to the occupied areas was very specific. The entity in the occupied north was either a pseudo-state, a so-called ‘state’, or a self-proclaimed state. And the pseudo-naming did not end there. While watching the news or reading newspapers, one would hear and read expressions like pseudo-parliament, pseudo-committee, pseudo-police, and so on. After the checkpoints opened, in fact, one MP with a sense of humour told me the epic phrase: “We went to the pseudo-state, we pseudo-ate, we pseudo-drank…”

In those early years, after the rejection of the Annan plan, I remember there was an uproar every time information surfaced about products from Turkey, or from the occupied areas, being imported and sold in the free areas, as we called them. Some people continue to use that term, though that too has dwindled. All the ‘pseudos’ in people’s conversations and in the media only served to satisfy our need to confirm, for internal consumption, that there is only one state in Cyprus: the Republic of Cyprus. And indeed, if any foreign government official made the mistake of simply referring to the ‘Cypriot north’, they would immediately be condemned for the crime of sedition.

I’ve got carried away though and strayed from my initial thought, on the smuggling through the checkpoints of products not included in the list of the European Green Line Regulation. Clothes, shoes, leather goods, dishes, nuts on sale from Turkey would act as a red flag for our side. Over time, such protests against the ‘unscrupulous’ Greek Cypriot importers and traders also disappeared. No one cares anymore whether illegal products are coming in through the occupied areas. I also suspect that very few people were interested in the article published by Phileleftheros, which dealt with how marble from Turkey or the Kyrenia Mountains [Pentadaktylos] can now be found in our homes, or placed in schools and even army camps by the state itself.

And why should we bother, when more and more of us now go to the occupied areas for cheap petrol, cheap medication, cheap meals and cheap shopping in supermarkets. Market forces and our dwindling budgets as a result of the unending crisis are pushing people en masse to the other side. Figures released by the police show that in the first half of 2022, the number of Greek Cypriots crossing to the occupied areas quadrupled. Even people who never believed in reunification are crossing to the north to save considerable amounts of euros.

The reality is screaming out loud: Cypriots, both Greek- and Turkish-, have largely accepted the unresolved state of the Cyprus problem. Even those who were calling for the reunification of the island until 2017, today no longer believe that such a prospect is possible. There are not as yet two recognised states on the island. In people’s minds, however, that is exactly what exists. Division has now become widely accepted. That is why most people allowed President Anastasiades’s behind-the-scenes consultations on a two-state solution after the collapse of Crans-Montana pass without comment. No one in the government camp admits this, but for a long period of time, not only Mr Anastasiades but also his associates in the Presidency and the Foreign Ministry at the time were moving along a two-state track.

Today, the President and his cohorts are spinning things differently. Perhaps because they no longer need to discuss it themselves. Two entities in Cyprus is now the official policy of Turkey and Ersin Tatar. The acceptance of a two-state model is also a precondition for the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot sides to sit at the negotiating table for a Cyprus settlement. And those who still believe that the international community is opposed to such a divisive prospect for the island are sadly mistaken. They are just waiting for Cypriots to formally reject reunification. Because, as the wise ones say: “If there’s no will…”


After ten years with the BBC World Service in London, Lefteris Adilinis, a Greek national, moved to Cyprus in 2001, where he quickly established himself as the leading analyst on political issues in Cyprus, with unparalleled access to politicians and other policy-makers. Having worked with media organisations in Cyprus across the political spectrum, as editor-in-chief, Lefteris Adilinis has a reputation for balance and objectivity, and is frequently consulted by the diplomatic and business community. He is currently the Director of the law firm Sinka LLC, having made a career change in 2019.

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