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Questions point to a deep divide

Cyprus Today Opinion

Cyprus Today Opinion

Questions point to a deep divide

  • 11.10.2017

THERE are more questions than answers, goes the well-known song – and never was that apparently truer than in the case of Mehmet Sapmaz, roughed up this week by an aggressive Greek Cypriot policeman on the South side of the Ledra Palace checkpoint.
The initial unknowns relate to Mr Sapmaz's own conduct: why did he choose to cycle South from the middle of the buffer zone when, as a non-Cypriot and non-EU citizen, he was unable to enter? And why, when challenged to stop as he passed the Greek Cypriot end of the crossing, did he not do so straight away? (Though other evidence suggests the outcome may not have been much different.)
Far more significant, however, are the question marks over the behaviour of Greek Cypriot police themselves: not just the officer now being investigated, but also his colleagues who failed to intervene.
There is absolutely no justification for the callous treatment meted out to Mr Sapmaz – by all accounts, after he was returning to the checkpoint and had stopped. However several sources say it is not the first time that abuse and disrespect has been witnessed at that crossing.
So all that has emerged begs questions of the South's administration too. Not just: why is this policeman – and possibly others guilty of similarly unacceptable behaviour – still on checkpoint duty? But also why, when you might imagine the furore over this incident having left them at least a little chastened, are they reportedly poised to deport Mr Sapmaz via Greece to Turkey, when they could simply deliver him across the “Green Line”?
All of this happened just hours before pro-peace activists from both sides of the border joined forces to urge the island's leaders back to the negotiating table in hopes of thrashing out a Cyprus settlement. The answers we may deduce from these bigger questions – on a personal, institutional and national level – are far from encouraging.
 

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