Cyprus: A Dreadful War of Quotation Marks

When I mentioned that I was working on a blog to a friend (you know who you are), the first thing he told me was “You are not going to write about the Cyprus problem, are you?”. This certainly wasn’t an encouraging reaction for a newbie blogger like me; however it’s not unknown that Cypriots have been fed up with talking about the “Cyprus problem”. Some may wonder why I put “Cyprus problem” in quotation marks; well, as you know, putting a word or a phrase into quotation marks indicates that it’s a disputed, subjective concept. This is exactly the issue in Cyprus: there is a dispute but there are totally antagonistic views on what the dispute actually is; which is the essential layer of the dispute. So, in fact, the Cyprus dispute is a dispute about what the Cyprus dispute is. Confusing, isn’t it? I’m not trying to create a political tongue-twister but the “Cyprus dispute” has definitely become a brain-twister. Depending on who you ask, they will describe the “Cyprus problem” differently and each observer may be right to a certain extent. On its daily press reviews, Press and Information Office (PIO) of the Republic of Cyprus puts terms like “state, land, TRNC, government, universities, airport, commander of security forces, police” etc. in quotation marks as well as occasionally adding words like “so called, illegal, pseudo” or my favorite one “self styled” before the names of all sorts of institutions whereas Turkish Cypriot PIO and press usually refers to the Republic of Cyprus as “Greek Cypriot Administration, so-called Republic of Cyprus” and use quotation marks equally sparingly. The TC press even puts the word “Cyprus” into quotation marks sometimes (leading to the illogical deduction that even the island’s name is to be disputed ?!)  and the whole thing becomes completely ridiculous.

What’s going on here is basically a war for establishing monopoly over the “truth” and using quotation marks as little black bullets fired at the other side in a silent war for becoming the sole authority in dispensing truth. I personally think that any effort that’s put into reconciling these two mutually-exclusive perspectives is wasted. That is why the 4-decade long intercommunal talks between the representatives of the two sides are going no where.

What is needed is a coherent third perspective that unifies all the available objective facts, scratches out mutually-exclusive interpretations of history and liberates Cyprus from the slavery of quotation marks.

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