We hardly have anything in common with the president of the Republic of Cyprus. We come from different ideological, political and moral worlds, and our priorities and viewpoints in life are diametrically opposed. Nevertheless, and although I never voted for him, I have been a strong supporter of his efforts to reunify the island in the only realistic way that I think possible; namely through a federal state with territorial rights to its constituent parts. Make what you will with this but I don’t think there is any other way to solve the Cyprus problem besides a bizonal, bicommunal, federal state, which makes me increasingly suspicious towards those who reject it without offering any plausible alternative.
When the negotiations collapsed I was so devastated that I needed a few days to get back to normal. I’m obviously not unique in this. Those of us who have been long-time supporters of reunification, and I’m afraid to say that contrary to popular opinon we are not that many, have all been devastated. Of course, we are not a solidified group and this has little to do with traditional left and right divides, though dare I say the left has been more eager in its support of reunification over the years.
Those in favor of reunification form a lose group of people from all walks of life who have been supporting the process for different reasons — some are anarchists and want no borders, some are traditional liberals who want all Cypriots to enjoy the same freedoms, others are neoliberals who see business opportunities in a reunified Cyprus, and others, maybe the majority, are displaced people who want to regain a lost attachment to the places, scents and people they grew up with. All of them have been let down by the two leaders.
On Monday the two leaders will meet again for the first time after the collapse of the negotiations. I feel nothing — I’m not excited, I’m not eager for the outcome, I don’t look forward to anything. Actually, this not quite true. I do feel something. A profound sense of disappointment by the way the two leaders handled the negotiations and their aftermath. I feel let down by Aastasiades for deciding that sabotaging the negotiations was a price worth paying for a new term in office and by Akinci for being more attached to Turkey than anyone of us anticipated and whose public statements are frankly counterproductive.
This time around my support is not given. Neither my support, nor my encouragement and trust. It’s up to them to persuade people like me — the traditional supporters of a reunified, federal Cyprus — that they genuinely want to solve the Cyprus problem. I honestly doubt that. I therefore won’t be seen at Ledra Palace, Ledras Street, outside the Presidential Palace or what have you, in support of the leaders and the negotiations. I’ve been fooled too many times. On the one hand Akinci is only a shadow of his former self and on the other hand Anastasiades clearly wants to prolong the negotiations whilst proceeding with the gas explorations, all the while he has the audacity to claim that the negotiations can be picked up from where they were left.
I sometimes think of how bloody naive we’ve been. What idiots must we be for meeting at Ledra palace and Ledras street time and time again in support of the negotiations whilst the negotiators served their own personal agendas, which had little to do with the solution. Not this time. If they want to solve the problem they will have to prove it to us. And if they truly want to solve the problem they would also need to engage in persuasion on the specifics of the solution. I simply do not trust them. I mistrust both their motivation and abilities. They can now fail on their own.