Christodoulides’ 14-point initiative towards Turkish Cypriots has been interpreted by our politicians as a “trap”, “manipulation”, “osmosis”, or something that “could create new human rights issues” in a simplistic and reductionist way. Although these observations may give the impression of four different perspectives emerging, from the opposition to the government, they are essentially statements made with the intention of “making sure nothing beneficial happens for the public”.
Christodoulides took office in February 2023 and felt the need to make a gesture towards Turkish Cypriots in a short period. He may have wanted to rectify the bad legacy he inherited from Anastasiades and take constructive and confidence-building steps for the future. During the Annan Plan era, despite the amount of pressure, Papadopoulos couldn’t put forward much. We can say the same for Christofias and Anastasiades.
The reactions given by our political leaders to Christodoulides’ statements, which involved making unnecessary remarks instead of developing counterproposals or discussing the matter, did not seem right to me in terms of exercising diplomatic skills. Making reactionary statements without analysing the issue more calmly and comprehensively could lead not only to Turkish Cypriots being understood incorrectly on the international stage but also to being completely misunderstood. Besides, making statements based on the same old lines regarding issues that concern the interests of our people will not gain domestic or international support. The Cypriot public is tired of the pain of rehearsed lines.
In truth, our politicians have no chance of changing the positive atmosphere that the Cypriot President’s outreach policy has created among the Turkish Cypriot people. Why? Because the Turkish Cypriot people have started to give up on politicians who, they are now convinced, do not work for their benefit. Let’s not say, “Cyprus is a national cause, so we should take a different stance.” The internal economic, moral, political, and cultural breakdowns are also national causes. Whatever position we take in response to this, we must take the same position against the things that are being sold to us with the phrase “Oh this is a national issue.”
It is Ankara that sees best that our politicians are no longer legitimate in the eyes of the public. Just looking at the opinion polls they hold is enough for them to realize that none of them, from the President to the government and the main opposition, have any standing among the people. This is sufficient for them to understand the severity of the situation. After all, even in a matter that involves a necessity and is accepted by everyone for its humanitarian aspect, such as opening a road to Pile [Pyla], it is clear where they have brought the situation.
If we are to return to Christodoulides’ proposals once again… I do not claim that the President of Cyprus has hidden intentions. However, it must be recognized that for the first time, a Greek Cypriot leader has gained soft power over Turkish Cypriots. Personally, I applaud Christodoulides’ proposals for the Turkish Cypriots who live with identity-related fears. “It will be like this, it will be like that” – enough with the talk. Opening more checkpoints, granting EU citizenship to the deserving 3,590 Turkish Cypriots, expanding the scope of the Green Line Regulation, allowing Turkish Cypriots to benefit from the healthcare system, facilitating the crossing of Turkish Cypriot workers and students through the crossing points, delayed implementation of the decision regarding the opening of bank accounts in the South and taking measures for money transfers, and taking initiatives to improve mutual trade relations – does any of this have anything to do with osmosis? All of these are concrete steps that should already be discussed and implemented under the Confidence-Building Measures chapter. They could all be put into practice swiftly.
Politicians who oppose Christodoulides’ proposals will soon receive support from the fanatic circles on the other side, and they too will loudly oppose these proposals. But this won’t save our politicians. If Christodoulides remains courageous and committed, I’m not sure about osmosis, but I’m confident that Turkish Cypriots will send politicians like you into outer space.