TIME FOR UNITY
There has been no civil war, tearing the island apart and destroying the lives of innocents on both sides of the divide, since the Turkish intervention in 1974. That blessing has come at a heavy price, especially for the Turkish Cypriots. Isolated, embargoed and forgotten, they have battled on, making a living as best they can, still struggling to create a modern, properly functioning, democratic state, in a world that unjustifiably denies them the right to interact with other parts of the globe where such conditions are taken for granted. It is therefore no wonder that TRNC's often dysfunctional bureaucratic institutions sometimes frustrate many expatriates to the point of despair (more about that later).
As for the Greek Cypriots, they have done very nicely out of all this. Recognised internationally as the government of the whole island, which they manifestly are not, they hold all the diplomatic and economic cards. They play them, constantly, presenting themselves as the "victims" to a largely disinterested world, which sees the Cyprus status quo as the least unsettling option, however unjust that undoubtedly is.
With the so-called Greek Cypriot "Republic of Cyprus" wielding an EU "veto", along with fellow EU member Greece, over any attempt to ease the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots, they are as near to their dream of "Hellenistic" union with Athens as they could possibly be. Who can blame them for using this stupid, unconditional EU gift, consequently making any balanced and fair Cyprus settlement impossible to achieve? Why would the GCs give up any of their cards when they already hold them all? Such logic is not rocket science, now is it? Apparently, for the EU, it is.
Greek Cypriot perceived superiority manifests itself constantly. Their recent decision to block non-Cypriot nationals, including British and EU passport holders, from crossing the north/south border in either direction, is in direct contravention of the EU's Green Line regulation and EU law. It is a blatant attempt to increase TRNC's isolation still further, as the virus lockdowns are eased. Will the EU act? Don't hold your breath. With two Greek vetos hovering over the EU, there is more chance of me migrating to the moon (which, for other than my reader, might have pleased some folk).
Which brings me to what we expatriates should think of all this. Without doubt, some have suffered unjustly, especially over property issues. Their retirements being ruined, their title deeds withheld, etc. No one can blame them for feeling let down and betrayed. There have been too many cases over the years. Such folk will not rush to defend the TRNC barricades, nor should they. It is against the law for foreign nationals to physically demonstrate. That does not mean the majority who have successfully settled here, cannot make their opposition to the injustices visited on the Turkish Cypriots more obvious. It is in our interests to do so.
I hear many expatriates justifiably complain that in UK, many (not all) immigrants refuse to adapt to the values and customs of their chosen home. If we want our voice to be heard here, it would be wise for TRNC's expatriates not to fall in the same trap. We are the immigrants here. We chose to come. Whatever the disasters that might have befallen some, we will achieve no success by making TRNC enemies. We can only succeed by making friends and influencing people. It's the way things work here. Turkish Cypriots are loyal friends and terrible enemies. They've had to be.
I believe the majority of expatriates recognise the injustices forced on the Turkish Cypriots. WE all suffer from the consequences of THEIR isolation. Our help in getting that message across to a disbelieving world is vital to the interests of ALL who live here, Turkish Cypriot and expatriate alike. Think how our lives would improve if the embargoes were lifted and direct flights came about. TRNC life would change overnight. The real world, not our isolated one, would arrive. With that reality, injustices of all kinds would HAVE to disappear. International recognition would bring international standards in its inevitable wake.
The opportunity to achieve that has never been better. The Greek Cypriot violation of the Green Line Regulation is a big mistake. They are effectively admitting that the north/south Cyprus border exists and consequently, so do TWO Cyprus States. The consequent end of any attempts to create a "bi-communal" UN sponsored Cyprus settlement could not be made clearer. The dispute over oil and gas rights makes that great truth even more obvious. Act before it also threatens peace. UK is a guarantor power. It needs to start acting like one. Soon to be completely out of the EU, its freedom to act is immeasurably increased. We expatriates, resident or "swallow", should use whatever influence, however limited it might be, to bring that about.
Friendship, however, is a two way street. Many expatriates are frustrated as hell with the ever changing, confusing and garbled "on line" residency application process, especially those many that have held "temporary" residency for over a decade and more. Having invested here, abided by the law and paid their taxes, the number of paper stream hoops they now have to jump through (even "online") is driving them mad. Some are feeling unwelcome. These matters were raised at the recent BRS AGM. PM, Ersin Tatar, has agreed to meet the BRS again to talk about it. The government are not unresponsive. Excellent, because it is in the interests of ALL who live here to come together and fight against ALL the injustices that have bedevilled TRNC for far too long. The time for UNITY of purpose has come. Let's get on with it, together. New dawns are always worth waiting for, but not forever. MAKE IT HAPPEN.