By Funda Gumush
I am sure that this week you will read many articles and commentary pieces focused on the ravenous fires which have taken the Troodos mountains hostage.
I want to add to that list in a slightly different way.
Although I wasn’t home at the time, my previous house was nearly damaged by the huge forest fire in Kyrenia in 1995. Had it not been for the stubbornness of my then husband, my daughter and I would not have had a home to come back to and we would have lost everything.
I know what it feels like to see the charcoal trees and pines as that’s what it looked like some 20 years ago in Kyrenia.
It was dark when we got back but when the morning light broke, the devastation was incomprehensible. The scent of the smoke lingered in the air and everything was tinged a darkened hue.
Two people recently lost their lives in the fires in Troodos and over the past couple of days social media has literally been on fire with comments from Turkish Cypriots regarding the blaze.
People were incensed that they were sitting across the Green Line unable to stop it and help that was being offered was not taken up.
Whilst the fire spread from tree to tree, Turkish Cypriots sat hands tied, unable to do anything. Many pleaded through social media sites with authorities to allow them to help. But politics unfortunately came into play like it does with EVERYTHING on this island.
As those of you who read my columns know, I have a very simplistic view of politics.
Many may see it as childish or immature; that’s fine, it’s my view.
But Cypriots on both sides of the island are no different to each other. They would rather see their forests burn to the ground, their property ravaged by fire and smoke than accept help from their next-door neighbour. This was the case in 1995 and it’s the case today.
If the two sides can’t even help one another out in the time of need, how are they going to agree on topics of discussion in the negotiation process?
Do you think that asking for or by accepting help we will demean ourselves? Aren’t we just cutting off our noses to spite our faces? Then what is the point of discussing issues to solve the Cyprus issue? How can helping each other out in desperation be seen as anything but that?
We all know Turkish Cypriots do not have air support for fires; they need to get the support from Turkey. But they have manpower willing to help fight the fires alongside the Greek Cypriot firefighters. There is nothing ‘pseudo’ or ‘occupied’ about these fires. They are damaging not only our common heritage but our eco-system as well.
I saw this sentence on social media and it rings true… “Common island, same pain, shared responsibility”. After all, isn’t this what it’s all about?