| Cyprus Problem |Yenidüzen



Our topic is the problem of military service.
Of course, “the problem” we’re referring to, is not ‘military service.’
It’s mandatory military service.
You know, the “legal obligation” they talk about…
Or more commonly known as “duty to the homeland”
“Debt to the homeland”…
They came up with several different names in the past to sanctify [this service].
It most probably coincided with the time when the notion of nation-states had started taking root…
If we are to briefly summarize this issue, there are two aspects to the matter.
The first is the “legal” aspect.
A legal obligation means that it is backed up by a sanction.
The other is the “sacred” aspect…
The state of fulfilling or not fulfilling “one’s duty to the nation”.
Regardless of how one looks at it, both aspects are based on the principle of obligation, which is where the problem begins.
In the case of the first aspect, individuals are coerced by laws, while in the case of the second, individuals are coerced by the pressure of their community, state or peers.


This matter is as old as humanity itself.
No doubt the form of [military service] that we are discussing today has its roots.
If we were to quickly summarize; we can divide the periods into two: before and after the French Revolution.
In both periods, until recently, “numerical superiority” of armies was very important.
That is why “compulsory military service” constituted “the people’s/country’s army” and thus “security.”
And therefore, it was an important phenomenon for the “existence” and “survival” of the homeland, and of course its “expansion”, as well as “the acquisition of new territories”.
Of course, from this point of view, “numerical strength” was important, it was a necessity.
We are talking about a situation with two sides.
It is both “numbers” for “unity against the enemy” and a political/ideological “institution” aimed at domestic politics.
I think that these two constantly affect and feed off each other.


Of course, we must not fail to mention that there were arms-dependent economies during these periods.
These were times when those with powerful weapons had “prosperity” and those who didn’t, suffered defeat, destruction and death…
These were times when “new” lands were incorporated into the “homeland” through superior military armies, that brought victory and prosperity or just the opposite, destruction and poverty…
In short, these were times when war economies prevailed and imperialism was in its infancy.
One needs to accept as natural the formation of “military institutions” at the time, even if they were solely for “defence” purposes.
As time went by, the second era began where everyone was forced to take on a leading role in war…
The First World War…
And then there was the Second World War which upset the rules of the game…
An event occurred during this period that shattered both the “military truths” of the previous world war and all previous conflicts!..
The Atomic bomb!
This was a game-changing development which with the snap of a finger, rendered the infantry rifle, tanks, planes and bullets meaningless/useless…
And so a new rule to the game of war was written with this horrific, extremely painful and traumatic experience that shook the world…
The fact that “the future is in the skies” was then being etched into the rules of the military game. 
Of course, as time passed and technology advanced, the insignificance of mandatory military service, which had taken root in the minds of Europeans, created new situations.
In this new era where numerical superiority no longer mattered, and technological power became important, mandatory military service was more harmful than beneficial and also pointless.
Of course, it is necessary to add to this the awareness on “human rights” and the rise of international institutions and international civil society consciousness.
And of course, the suffering in Europe due to conscription and war also led societies to reevaluate the issue.
Of course, wars have not ended in this new era.
They continue in different forms, and occasionally conflicts are still occurring, but the real arm-wrestling continues over countries and economies.


Then there are regions like ours…
Regions where political and militaristic issues have turned into clusters under situations of small-scale conflicts, on the ceasefire line…
Mandatory military service is still in effect around here.
And with its old rules and slogans…
The island we live on is also such an island.
What has become meaningless is the current situation creating a contrast with new facts that develop outside the militaristic spiral we live in.
On one side, there is the Turkish army, one of the strongest armies in the world, “protecting” the northern part of Cyprus.
On the other side, there is the Turkish-Greek consensus about NATO…                          And let’s add the latest political achievement of the Greek Cypriots to this: Cyprus’ membership to the European Union.
This is the situation in Cyprus right now.
So I ask you, what are the soldiers on both sides of Lokmacı [Ledra Street] and Kermiya [Agios Dhometios] guarding?                                                                  If Cyprus is European Union territory – which it is – can Turkey be a threat to these territories?
Or does it even matter how many missiles or planes you have any more?
That glorious army, those victorious soldiers (!), how many years will they “continue to spin their wheels” after the defeat of 2004, who knows? 


Mandatory military service has been scrapped in many European countries.
For these very same reasons.
Due to regional reasons and the world’s new rules.
If we are still talking about compulsory military service, then there is a problem here. This problem is both the problem of not being able to perceive the new rules of the world and the problem of not internalizing our conditions sufficiently…
This issue is much bigger than the fact that the country’s youth spend a year in the military.
The essence of the issue is that mandatory military service is an ideology, an imposition.
Yes, compulsory military service is the most vivid proof that peace is still not present on the island.
Then who are we “protecting” and from whom are we protected on both sides of Kermiya [Agios Dhometios] and Lokmacı [Ledra Street]?
The new world order has shown us that a war in Cyprus can only be possible with a new world war.
A large-scale, regional conflict…
Under these circumstances, we must realize that compulsory military service has no practical benefit.
This is the reason why this ideology, which is nourished by duty to homeland, patriotism and martyrs is questioned.
It is the fact that the situation has become meaningless.


Born in 1983 in Nicosia, Mert Özdağ studied journalism at Near East University. He worked at Kıbrıs newspaper between 2000-2002, during which he played an active role in setting up Kıbrıs TV. After a stint at Radio SİM, Özdağ started working as a reporter for Yenidüzen newspaper in 2002. In 2009, he was appointed news director, and then managing editor in 2015, while since December 2022, he is working as Yenidüzen’s general manager and editor-in-chief. Since 2009, he has been writing daily columns in Yenidüzen. He is the recipient of numerous awards for his work in journalism.

Comments are closed.