The island of Cyprus, just like many other politically-insignificant, periphery/semi-periphery countries, is a part of the world-system, constantly being shaped and reshaped by forces beyond its control. As a part this world-system, developments are merely reflections of global economic, political and cultural trends. Hence, taking the world-system as our unit of analysis can provide us with insightful ideas and a more accurate sense of direction. Today, I would like to take a few steps back and try to put developments into this broader historical perspective. A broader approach does not only provide a better understanding of the status quo but may also provide a more accurate picture of our future prospects. When considering future scenarios for Cyprus, the discussion should not be based on a “pessimism vs. optimism” dimension but rather on the eventual impact of inevitable global changes.
Global Paradigm Shift and the Cyprus Problem
In the discipline of international relations, the period between the end of the Second World War and the fall of the Berlin Wall is defined as the period of bipolarity during which the world was split between Socialist and Liberal ideologies. The two superpowers of the period were indirectly fighting with each other through their extensions in many countries in order to become the victorious side of the ideological war. The war was not only fought between guerillas vs. counter-guerillas and armies vs. rebels groups. The war was not only economic but also psychological, Continue reading
If there is a single factor we can identify as the main reason behind the “Cyprus Problem”, it’s not the existence of two different communities on the island; it’s rather the degree of difference between the populations.
The undoubted reason behind the Greek Cypriot dissatisfaction with the 1960 Constitution was the amount of rights given to the Turkish Cypriot community. The dominant argument of the era was that Turkish Cypriots had taken a disproportionate share of the state in comparison with their population and this was causing functionality issues for the state. The 13 constitutional amendment proposals of President Makarios aimed at correcting this perceived functionality issue by reducing the constitutional rights of Turkish Cypriots.
Based on the Zurich-London Agreements of 1959, an asymmetric power sharing was the backbone of the Republic of Cyprus. Turkish Cypriots were given 3 out of the 10 ministries, 30% of the positions in the public sector and the same percentage of the seats in the parliament.
If the number of Turkish Cypriots were less,
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. ‡
One spring afternoon, as I was sitting with the “usual bunch” of friends at a local coffee shop within the old city of Nicosia, it suddenly struck me that a lot of ideas were getting lost into the air over frappes made with cheap store-brand granulated coffee. I first bought a note book and began taking notes of ideas without actually knowing what to do with them. Once I had everything written down, maybe these ideas and opinions would somehow “interact” with each other, giving birth to newer ideas that could form material for a future newspaper column that I sometimes imagined myself writing or help me clarify the subjects I’d like to research in a PhD program which I plan to start in 2013. The note-taking thing took off but shortly after, the idea of sharing ideas with others via a blog became much more appealing. That’s exactly how I decided to start this blog. It’s just and attempt to hold onto some thoughts and put them somewhere public in an organized way; not only for sharing them with other people, but also for having them under record for myself. ‡