In the south of Cyprus, a student of the Department of Informatics at the University of Cyprus, Lambros Dionysiou, criticised the rulers of the country at a graduation ceremony, attracting great attention both south and north of Cyprus, with the speech widely covered in the media.

Because this speech was not your usual, cliché graduation speech…

Criticizing the current order, Dionysiou revealed the disappointment and anger of the youth, and said they have no expectations from the country.

Naturally, such a speech garnered significant media attention, and was widely covered and discussed on social media.

In fact, Dionysiou had prepared a classic graduation speech, but when he got to the podium, he decided not to read it out after realizing that the text had nothing to do with reality.

Dionysiou said that he lives in a society in decline, where institutions are collapsing, corruption is widespread, scandals emerge one after the other, and citizens are angry.

The young graduate, addressing politicians, said: “We live in a country where you are constantly involved in corruption.”

Dionysiou stated that no corruption or evil is punished in the country, and that nothing negative has ever changed. “We live on an island divided by open wounds. We live in a time when we are trapped in our own little world while global challenges are increasing,” he said.

Dionysiou said people feel compelled to go abroad; young people think they will find it better there, noting that he is one of them. He said, “I will leave without knowing whether I will return or not. Because if I stay in Cyprus, I know that the moment will come when someone will be considered better, not because of their skills and experience, but because of their party identity and family ties. I’m leaving because the only thing this country can achieve is to cause disappointment and clip the wings of its young people,” he said.

The speech is longer but we summarised…

The media in the south and north in general included the sections I mentioned above.

Many people in Northern Cyprus found what this young man said to be close to their hearts…

Many people emphasised that similar things were happening in Northern Cyprus and that, in fact, young Cypriots, or rather all Cypriots, have similar problems.

Of course, it is true to some extent… The decline of society, the collapse of institutions, the spread of corruption, the emergence of scandals one after the other, and the involvement of politicians in these are serious problems for us too.

The fact that those who commit corruption and illegal acts are not punished, that the perpetrators get away with it, and that the shortcomings and chronic problems remain unchanged are also issues that Turkish Cypriots complain about.

Turkish Cypriots are the victims of the deadlock in Cyprus, of course. Everyone knows this, but Dionysiou points out that Greek Cypriots also suffer from it.

The statement that Cypriots are trapped in their own little world while global challenges are increasing also applies to us.

Dionysiou said that Greek Cypriot youth also fled and emigrated abroad because they did not see a future in Cyprus. As you know, the Turkish Cypriot youth are in the same situation. Those who studied abroad do not return, and those who studied here run away… So the problem is the same…

However, the following words of Dionysiou, that is, “if I stay in Cyprus, I know that the moment will come when someone will be considered better, not because of their skills and experience, but because of their party identity and family ties”, reveals that the issue of partisanship, nepotism and access to opportunities by people of influence is a disease not only of Turkish Cypriots but also of Greek Cypriots.

In addition, Dionysiou’s statement that, “The only thing this country can achieve is to cause disappointment and clip the wings of its young people” is embraced by Turkish Cypriots as well, they share the sentiment.

It becomes apparent that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots have similar problems.

There are also problems originating from Cypriot characteristics…

Of course, problems caused by not reaching a solution in Cyprus are also huge…

Not only Turkish Cypriots, but also Greek Cypriots have witnessed serious migration, both in the past and today.

You must have heard the interesting stories shared by Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots who emigrated to England and Australia.

Both communities have many common problems; what is right is to reach a solution, cooperate and solve problems together instead of fighting and bickering, but unfortunately, there are no such positive circumstances right now.

I have something else to say; now, of course, the things that this young Greek Cypriot man pointed out in his graduation speech are true; and of course, our people, our young people are also experiencing similar problems. But there are a lot of comments on social media which I object to, such as “We are no different from the Greek Cypriots”, “We are exactly the same”, “We are making too big a deal out of the things that are available on the Greek Cypriot side, but look, everything seems to be the same”, “The young man spoke, the mask fell off”…

Yes, we have similar problems, but we are not exactly the same. No, everything over there is not like the way it is in the north…

Do not be fooled by this talk and argue that our situation is exactly the same as that of the Greek Cypriots, or that we are in an even better state, because this would be a way of deceiving yourself.

The Republic of Cyprus utilises all the opportunities offered by global recognition; being a member of the European Union entails both certain standards and advantages.

Take a look at their traffic, roads, environmental and urban regulations, and streets, and then take a look at ours. Of course, their services and amenities are much better…

They don’t have electricity problems, they don’t have water problems, their hospitals and schools are much better than ours, they export better than us, their tourism potential is much higher than ours, we don’t have smooth roads or modern highways like theirs, they use technology better than us in many fields, and in many areas, they enjoy the advantages of belonging to the world in its real sense. I could list even more… I’m not praising anything, these are facts that everyone knows; I just wanted to remind you of them… I wish we could think hard and ask, “Why can’t we do these?”, or worry enough to do something about it…

Okay, we have the same problems that the young Greek Cypriot graduate talked about, but do not ignore some facts and say, “We are exactly the same”, or “We are better”, because it is not like that; as I said, this would only be a way of deceiving yourself.


Ali Baturay was born in Klavia (Alanici) village of Larnaca on 14 October 1968. He studied journalism. He holds a master’s degree focusing on “New Media and Changing Newspapers and Journalism in the Northern Part of Cyprus”. He worked for Halkın Sesi Newspaper between 1986-1995, for Yenidüzen Newspaper between 1995-1998 and for KIBRIS Newspaper for 22 years, between 1998-2020. He worked as news director, managing editor and editor-in-chief at KIBRIS Newspaper. In February 2020, he moved to digital newspaper Haber Kıbrıs as general editorial coordinator, where he also wrote daily columns and produced a programme on Haber Kıbrıs WEB TV. As of January 2023, he works as the editor-in-chief of digital news site Bağımsız.

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