What is needed, more than ever before, now that talks are moving full speed for the reunification of the island, is for a new approach towards the relations between Cypriots of all cultural, linguistic and religious backgrounds, a reinforced rapprochement if you like, to be carried out in a systematic and organised way.
This should aim at supporting the efforts of the leaders of the two communities for the solution of the Cyprus problem, but also at preparing the people and the society for the auspicious day of reunification.
This preparation is urgently needed if, as we hope, we are to soon coexist and cooperate again within the same governmental, societal, economic and other institutions and bodies and as citizens of a Federal Republic of Cyprus, member of the EU. After 41 years of separation it is not possible to achieve automatically such cooperation, which is a fundamental component for the effective functioning of a state and for the reunification of the people and the society. This should be the result of a well prepared effort that should be put into effect immediately, with the aim to bear fruit as soon as possible.
Unfortunately we have paid lip service to this goal over the years and have damaged the centuries old peaceful and harmonious coexistence among our people. Of course, this was primarily due to the inter-communal conflict that erupted in the 1960’s and the forcible separation that resulted from the 1974 Turkish military occupation, which prevented contacts between the communities.
As a consequence, a whole generation of post-1974 Cypriots grew up without any knowledge and indeed any substantial contacts with the other community, creating the misconception that this situation was sort of “normal” and, if not acceptable, it was at least tolerable.
Progressive Cypriots from all political spectrums across the divide have shared the vision over the years that one day our people, Christians and Moslems, Greek and Turkish Cypriots, Armenians, Maronites and Latins, will be able to build a common home in unity of purpose and cooperation, that will remove the mistrust and enmity of the past and inspire a new thinking of coexistence and harmony.
To achieve this, we need to create, through a comprehensive settlement, a solid foundation based on justice and the rule of law, where the human rights of every citizen will be fully protected and safeguarded, in a free and democratic society. We need to safeguard peace in an environment of full demilitarisation and to nurture confidence through the development of a culture of inclusion and respect for the identity and dignity of every human being. This is why, without necessarily waiting for the solution of the Cyprus problem, we should look at these issues as a matter of priority, with steadfastness and determination, far from political or other expediencies and to initiate programs that would bring the two communities together.
While we cannot predict the final outcome of this new initiative, we remain hopeful that all players, both from within and outside Cyprus, will come to realise the many advantages of achieving an end to the anachronistic military occupation and forcible division of the island and allowing a reunited people to work for their common goals and dreams in a reunited common homeland.
This is the only way that the wounds of the past could be healed and a new culture of peace could be created, that would celebrate diversity, consider the multicultural character of the country as its most valuable asset and honour every cultural, ethnic, linguistic and religious background and tradition, as an integral part of the one and indivisible Cypriot people.