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12° Nicosia,
02 February, 2023
 
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The upcoming presidential elections and the tragedy of Cyprus

An op-ed by Kyriakos H. Markides

Opinion

Opinion

by Kyriakos H. Markides

Any serious student of Cypriot history would have to admit that we have missed a number of opportunities for a viable solution to our problem over the decades, not only due to Turkish intransigence, but also, to a large extent, due to the internal polarisation between the Left and the Right, which has accelerated since World War II. It fueled ideological rigidities and maximalist views of our political problem. As a result, we routinely condemn most efforts to resolve the Cyprus issue. There were numerous missed opportunities for long-term solutions in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and after 1974. They were foolishly ignored so that yesterday's solution proposal was far superior to what is currently possible and achievable.

It is a sociological axiom that when a society faces an external threat, an internal coherence to deal with the threat generally develops. Not for Cyprus. For reasons beyond the scope of this short article, the external threat has not only led to internal cohesion and political consensus, but it has also led to further polarization. If what I am claiming is true, then it is reasonable to conclude that we need to repair this crippling rift in Greek Cypriot society so that we can move in a reasonable and realistic way toward a possible, but an extremely difficult, solution. Such a move will hopefully prevent further disasters for present and future generations. These are dangerous times for Cyprus which unfortunately are not fully and widely recognized as such. At no other time in the country's unhappy history have we come so close to fulfilling Rauf Denktash's dream of partitioning our beautiful island. Such a catastrophic development is likely to pave the way for further tragedies in the future.

One would have expected that the two major Greek Cypriot parties, DISY and AKEL, which represent the overwhelming majority of the Greek Cypriot population and which have repeatedly declared their support for a "bizonal and bicommunal federation", would have, at least temporarily, put aside their differences and join forces to save Cyprus from a disastrous permanent partition. I believe that there is one last chance in the upcoming presidential elections to do so. The two major parties must agree that whichever of them is left out of the second round of voting will support the candidate of their traditional rival. This means that if AKEL gets the votes to make it to the second round and DISY is left out, the latter will support the candidate of AKEL. AKEL can do the same. If the DISY candidate makes it to the second round and AKEL gets out, then AKEL will offer its support to the DISY candidate. Then a government of national unity can be formed with the highest priority to proceed to serious negotiations for a Cyprus solution. Such a development would convince the international community, especially the UN and the European Union, as well as our Turkish Cypriot compatriots, that we mean what we say, that we support the solution - reunification, without guarantees, without invasive rights, without occupying troops. The solution for a normal State. We must start thinking outside the proverbial box for the sake of the salvation of Cyprus and for the sake of future generations.

Mr. Kyriakos H. Markidis, Ph.D., is a Professor Emeritus of Sociology, at the University of Maine.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

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