>> Saturday, March 16, 2013
Eurozone finance ministers have agreed a 10bn-euro (£8.7bn) bailout package for Cyprus to save the country from bankruptcy.
>> Tuesday, February 26, 2013
>> Wednesday, January 25, 2012
I decided to write this entry because I have recently gone through the difficult and drawn out process of registering my one NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) / Association in Cyprus. I had searched extensively online for more information but could not find anything. Thus, I will go through the process and hopefully make it easier for others in the future.
Step 1: The forms
Naturally, you need to complete a set of forms. Surprisingly the form is available online, but unsurprisingly it is only available in Greek. I will go over briefly what is asks, but it would also be good to have a friend help you translate it.
The first blank is for the association name, write it clearly and make sure this is what you want your organization to be called. The registration certificate will be issued in this name. The 20 blank spaces below are for members to fill in. You need their names, addresses, phone numbers and signature. You must have 20 members at all time, otherwise your association/organization is considered invalid. If your members are not Cypriot identity card holders, you will need to get a copy of their passport and their residence permit.
The second page asks for you to designate a Administrative Council. The number of people on the council is up to you, but it is advisable to have at least a President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer. I had the position of VP and Secretary rolled into one, but the Ministry asked for it to be changed. Write down their full name, position on the council, address and telephone.
Page 3 asks you to list 10 individuals who will be responsible for ensuring the establishment of the association. Sort of like founders. Write down their full names, address and phone numbers and have them sign on the corresponding lines below.
Have the same ten members write down their names on Page 4. This is the official application to register an association.
Ignore page 5, this is for foundations.
Step 2 - Your Constitution
After you have filled in the application form, now is the time to write your constitution. I am not certain if it is necessary for the constitution to be in Greek, however when I wrote the constitution for my association in English, my lawyer edited it, made sure it was in compliance with the law and re-wrote it in Greek.
Step 3 - Your Logo
Design your logo and include it with your application. It will have to be sent to the Ministry along with the other papers.
Step 4 - Account Statement
You must also prepare a statement that outline any property and/or capital currently held by the association. Your lawyer can assist you with this.
Step 5 - The Lawyer
According to the Cyprus Associations Law a Lawyer must submit the application form with the constitution and other documents to the Ministry of Interior. Your lawyer should review the constitution, logo, statement of property/capital and review your application form and ensure everything is filled in correctly and that you have all the necessary documents. Once all is in order, your lawyer will send the papers to the Ministry to begin the registration. Registration from this point to completion usually takes 8-10 months. If there are any questions, the Ministry should contact your lawyer, who will contact you for clarifications if needed.
Any and all necessary registration fees are usually rolled together with your lawyer fees for one hefty bill. I paid approx 600EUR for the registration & lawyer fees.
Step 6 - Police Visit
In the application forms, you need to indicate where the offices of your association will be. Once the application has been submitted the police will contact you to come and inspect the registered address. They will check to ensure that the area has enough space for all your members to meet and ensure that you will not cause inconveniences to others. Once they are satisfied they will give their OK and your application will proceed further.
Step 7 - Certificate
As said before, the Ministry make contact your lawyer to address any discrepancies. At the end of the process they will send a simple one page registration certificate indicating your association name and your registration number. Naturally, it will be issued in Greek, however you can get it translated into English through the Press & Information office.
>> Wednesday, December 21, 2011
A paper I am working on discussing the implications of Cypriot oil and natural gas exploration and the accession of Turkey to the EU. Thoughts?
The consequences of Cypriot oil and natural gas exploration
The commencement of exploratory drilling operations by the government of Cyprus has been met with intense pressure and criticism from neighboring Turkey. At present, Turkish forces occupy 37% of the island of Cyprus and negotiations between the Greek and Turkish speaking communities have continuously failed to reunify the island. Turkey claims that such exploratory drilling activities cannot occur without their consent and have began exploratory drilling of their own. As a candidate country for the European Union, membership negotiations are currently frozen, as Turkey refuses to implement a customs union with the Government of Cyprus. Doing so would require opening Turkish ports and airspace to Cypriot traffic, but as the Turkish government does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus, such a move has created a permanent roadblock to Turkey’s EU accession. Furthermore, Turkey is also taking a greater interest in Middle East politics. Historically an ally of Israel and opponent to the Arab states, many would believe that Turkey is undergoing a significant policy shift, away from the EU and towards the Arab Middle East. This can be witnessed through a recent deterioration of military, diplomatic and economic ties between Turkey and Israel and their support of popular uprising during the Arab Spring. Turkey has vowed to increase naval patrols in the eastern Mediterranean and aspires to play a more powerful role in the region.
Oil and gas exploration between neighboring nations can quickly turn ugly, but when such exploration occurs in traditionally volatile region, the possibilities for heightened tensions and/or violent confrontation, because much more plausible. Thus we can examine the potential outcomes of the current developments in the region. These potential outcomes are largely based on the probability of Turkey joining the European Union.
Scenario 1 – Turkey adopts Ankara Protocol and accession negotiations continue
The first scenario proposes a situation whereby Turkey has agreed to implement the Ankara Protocol, thereby establishing a customs union with all EU member states (including Cyprus), which would subsequently open Turkish ports and airspace to Cypriot traffic. While many analysts would suggest that adopting the Ankara Protocol would imply a de facto recognition of the Republic of Cyprus and an abandonment of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) the two are not entirely linked. Turkey can agree to adopt the Ankara Protocol, opening its ports and airspace to Cypriot traffic, but come short of full recognition of the Republic of Cyprus. Turkey is aware of this, but is largely using the Ankara Protocol as leverage against the Republic of Cyprus. Turkey has often suggested that it would adopt the Ankara Protocol only after the economic isolation of the TRNC had been lifted, or once international flights were permitted to land at the TRNC’s international airport. The TRNC, recognized only by Turkey, has direct air and trade links only with Turkey. The Government of Cyprus has rebuffed all such offers, stating that the Ankara Protocol must be implemented with no strings attached. Nonetheless, and for the purpose of this analysis, let us suggest that Turkey has agreed to implement the Ankara Protocol. Whether falling short of full recognition or not of the Republic of Cyprus is irrelevant for the purposes of our discussion. After successfully implementing the Ankara Protocol, Turkey’s accession negotiations would be re-started and progress towards her admittance would continue. Progress on EU accession and bringing Turkey into the European family, may in fact assist in curbing Turkish aggression towards Cyprus and lessen its involvement in the Middle East. Being part of the EU family will require Turkey to concede certain aspects of foreign affairs and defense matters to the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). Other necessary reforms will also have to be concluded, including greater democratization, respect for human rights and civil reforms. For example, in September, 2010, a referendum on constitutional change was approved which included greater civil liberties, baring gender discrimination and additional protection for personal privacy.
In essence, the prospect of Turkish EU membership (real or perceived) may assist Turkey in becoming more ‘European’ (on the socio-political level) and assist in a re-alignment of its foreign policy towards European, than the Middle East. Such a shift would inevitable assist in alleviating tensions in the eastern Mediterranean. This scenario is explained much simpler by the Turkish Deputy Prime Minister, who in 2009 stated that should Turkey be forced to choose between supporting either EU membership or the Turkish Cypriots, “[then] Turkey’s choice will forever be to stand next to the Turkish Cypriots. Everybody should understand this.”
Furthermore, should Turkey’s EU aspirations become much more real or in fact be achieved, it would naturally assist in the development of a peaceful political settlement in Cyprus. Just as in 2004, the EU and the UN pushed hard for a reunification of the island prior to Cyprus’ accession to the bloc. Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership had long been obstacles to reunification, but the prospect of EU membership propelled the Turkish Cypriots to oust long-time hard-line political leaders and replace them with moderates. Turkey as well openly endorsed the UN sponsored proposal for the reunification of Cyprus which included the removal of all Turkish forces from Cyprus, with respect to previous agreements. This prospect of EU membership seemed to work out just as EU politicians had hoped, but ultimately backfired as the Greek Cypriots saw impending EU membership and a seat at the table as a prime bargaining position, which they could use to veto Turkey in the future and demand more concessions. Just as occurred in 2004 when impending EU membership for Cyprus saw the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey shy away from historical hard-line positions, the same could possibly occur again, this time with Turkey’s EU membership. The EU could in a sense put the brakes on Turkish EU accession at the last moment, pending a more positive attitude towards Cyprus and the peace negotiations. Naturally the reunification of Cyprus is not dependant solely on Turkey, but the prospect of EU membership may give Turkey extra impetus in making some hard decisions.
The implications also extend to the realm of oil and gas exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean. As a full member of the EU, Turkey and Cyprus would begin to work together to jointly to exploit the natural resources of the region and may even assist in confidence building between the two nations. The natural course for oil and natural gas exploration from Cyprus would be to its closest EU neighbor, which in this instance would be Turkey. A mere 70kms away, Turkey and Cyprus would be able to enter into a new age of partnership and prosperity. Such developments would also be of benefit to Israel, who, in cooperation with the EU through Cyprus and Turkey could develop plans for oil exploration to EU markets through Cyprus and Turkey. Such a positive climate in the region would also greatly assist in the reunification of Cyprus, if not already achieved at this point.
Scenario 2 – EU rebuffs Turkey
The second scenario proposed a situation whereby Turkey has decided or is rejected to becoming an EU member state. Should Turkey be rebuffed or on its own merit decide not to join the EU, the implications for Cyprus and the eastern Mediterranean would be significant. With the hope of joining the EU now out of Turkish consciousness, there would be little or no impetus for resolving the Cyprus problem. With little motivation to assist in the resolution of the Cyprus problem, it is largely conceivable that the status quo in Cyprus would continue for the foreseeable future. Moreover, it may also see renewed attempts by Turkey to consolidate international recognition of the breakaway TRNC. With its EU aspirations dashed, it is certain that Turkey would not hesitate in seeking recognition of the TRNC from its Arab neighbors. Hinting at such, Turkey’s chief negotiator for EU affairs recently stated that there are countries ready and waiting to recognize the TRNC. “Turkey has a certain amount of leverage. There are countries waiting for a signal to recognize the TRNC, to initiate diplomatic relations with it.” Furthermore, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) recently held its forum on higher education services in the TRNC. The OIC secretary-general was also quoted as stating that the ‘just cause’ of the Turkish Cypriots would in time lead to the recognition of the breakaway regime.
Recent developments in the eastern Mediterranean suggest that Turkey is examining new foreign policy avenues, which would see them play a greater role in the region. Having been rebuffed by the EU, or by their own accord, Turkey would naturally begin to explore this foreign policy avenue with greater vigor. Turkey boasts a large population and a strong military and with the support of other neighboring Arab nations, Turkey would be in prime position to play a position of power and importance in the region. With the last of the U.S. forces now departing from Iraq and heading home or to other assignments in Afghanistan, a new balance of power may indeed be in the future for the Middle East. However the question remains, who will step-in to take advantage of the new status quo. With the deterioration of its relations with Turkey, Israel appears to have lost a significant friend and ally in the region. Thus will Israel be preparing to increase its presence and keep the Middle East in check? Or will Iran eye to play a bigger role? What about Turkey? Still engaged in a continued offensive against Kurdish rebels in Northern Iraq, will Turkey step up to the plate? Many of the questions will remain unanswered, but one thing that is indeed certain is that should Turkey turn its back on the EU (or the EU to Turkey), then her attention will most certainly turn to the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East. Due to its support of the Arab spring uprisings, deterioration of relations with Israel and provocative oil exploration by Cyprus, may in fact lead a non-EU Turkey to increase its presence in the region.
Oil & Natural Gas Exploration
With regard to the exploration and exploitation of oil and natural gas in the region, such would become a source of continued hostility and tension. With little to no agreements or EU cooperation to supervise their actions, Turkey and Cyprus would surely continue to be at odds of oil and natural gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean. Without a friendly Turkey on their border, both Cyprus and Israel would need to begin developing a friendlier relationship, for their mutual benefit. Such action would also bring about a certain degree of foreign policy shift within Cyprus itself, who traditionally has been a supporter of its Arab neighbors at the expense of Israel. Moreover, with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Cyprus has traditionally been a supporter of Palestinian rights as they too are under occupation by a more powerful and foreign power. However, these traditional allegiances are beginning to shift. Cyprus is beginning to realize that she has more to gain with Israel at her side. Particularly when facing a hostile and aggressive Turkey at her borders, a powerful such as Israel would indeed be quite agreeable. Even more so now as both Cyprus and Israel are beginning to explore and exploit oil and natural gas deposits within their EEZs. In the few short months since Cyprus began exploring for oil and natural gas, Cypriot – Israeli relations have improved dramatically. As the Cypriot exploration is occurring a mere 33 kms from the Israeli Leviathan gas field, discovered only in June 2010, which is estimated to contain 450 billion cubic meters of natural gas and 4.2 billion barrels of oil, is it conceivable that both nations may enter into concrete military arrangements over the protection of these fields. Israel is already planning to increase naval patrols in the region while the Cypriot Defense Minster met with the Israeli Ambassador to Cyprus to discuss strengthening bilateral military cooperation. Other prominent opposition politicians in Cyprus have called on the government to seek immediately military cooperation with Israel and allow Israeli fighters to use Cypriot air forces based. Speaking in Greece, the Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister stated that Israel is ready to defend Cypriot oil exploration if necessary. Furthermore, Israel is also analyzing the prospect of sending its own gas to Europe through pipelines that would pass through Cypriot and Greek territory. Other areas of cooperation include civil aviation, drug-trafficking, terrorism, organized crime and electricity supply. The Israeli Prime Minister also paid an official state visit to Cyprus in mid November and the Cyprus Foreign Minister has recently stated that, “Cyprus will have to take momentous decisions and take bold steps forward, which will potentially mark its course in history and reshape its strategic importance.”
In summary it would appear that Cypriot oil and natural gas exploration develop hand-in-hand with Turkey’s accession to the EU. Turkey’s accession to the EU may see the development of more peaceful and friendlier relations with its neighbors and usher in a new era of cooperation in the eastern Mediterranean. Should Turkey be rebuffed from the EU, it is conceivable that developments will turn south both for Cyprus and the eastern Mediterranean in general.
In conclusion and based on the two hypothetical scenarios offered above, it would appear that the exploration and exploitation of oil and natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean retains the possibility of acting as a catalyst for both peace and hostility. It would therefore be advisable for the EU and Cyprus to continue with Turkey’s EU accession and allow for the implementation of the Ankara Protocol with some string attached. The government of Cyprus is largely concerned that maintaining division in Cyprus in unacceptable, but in fact, forcing a union may bring many unwanted consequences. Any discovery of oil and/or natural gas should act as an impetus for peace in Cyprus and the eastern Mediterranean. It would appear that Cyprus both wants it’s cake and to eat it too. However, it would appear that it cannot be so. Pushing ahead with oil and natural gas exploration with further alienate Turkey and bring Cyprus to develop a closer relationship with Israel. Doing so may in turn upset its Arab neighbors, who motivated by a rebuffed Turkey, may indeed move ahead with recognition of the TRNC. While such a recognition does not necessarily spell the end of a reunified Cyprus, it does however end the dream for the foreseeable future.
In order to have its cake and eat it to, it would appear advisable that Cyprus postpone any oil and/or natural gas exploitation and begin honest reconciliation with Turkey. Working together to have Turkey admitted to the EU would not only create a more positive atmosphere in the region, but would also created renewed motivation for all parties involved to redouble their efforts to reunify Cyprus. Just as occurred in 2004 when the UN sponsored peace plan motivated the Turkish Cypriots to oust traditional hard-line leaders, so too can occur again with respect to Turkey’s EU membership. Holding short of full EU membership, the EU can make additional requirements to Turkey to make considerable efforts toward the Cyprus issue and with renewed goodwill from the Greek Cypriots, reunification may indeed be possible. Subsequent to this, a reunified Cyprus, Turkey and Israel can begin to work together to exploit their natural resources and reap the benefits.
>> Monday, November 29, 2010
How can we fly the flag of Europe within our borders? How can we uphold the Eu's motto of "united in diversity"?
But what can we expect? We need to wake up! We plaster the walls of our primary schools with nationalist messages, our church leaders indoctrinate us, our politicians care less, and our police can be bothered.
To be honest though, I believe that these 'fanatics' represent only a small portion of Cyprus. While many may even publicly endorse these actions and speak in favor of them, I believe that most Cypriots, within the confines of their homes and their private lives actually resent such actions and behaviours.
Essentially, we have created a situation in Cyprus where we are our own worst enemy. We are afraid to speak out against the wrongs of our society because we fear its repercussions. But it was we who created this society in the first place. It was we who screamed "DEN KSEXNO". It was we who crafted the image of the 'other'. It was we who educated our children about the events of the past and the crimes committed against us. It was we who forced our young songs to serve for years in our military chanting nationalistic tunes day and night.
We must unravel the web of nationalism in Cypriot society. For it is everywhere. Under every rock, around every corner and on every street sign. Nationalism led to the coup, invasion and occupation and the continuing political problems in Cyprus. As the old adage states, "Those who do no learn from history are doomed to repeat it"
Let us not repeat history, but let us create a new history.
>> Monday, November 22, 2010
>> Wednesday, November 17, 2010
For some time, politicians, academics and the citizenry at large have been debating a somewhat contentious issue in Cyprus. Although one might be quick to associate such discussions as having to do with the ongoing political problem in Cyprus, this time however, it is not the case. This time, the discussions are centered on Cyprus’ potential application to NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PfP). Proponents of Cyprus’ application to the PfP see it a necessary step in Cyprus’ EU integration plan and more specifically, integration within the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) and the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). While opponents see Cyprus’ application to the PfP as a move towards continued militarization and a deviation from its long-standing policy of non-alignment.
Within the context of the protracted ethno-nationalist conflict of Cyprus, its consideration to join NATO’s PfP is highly controversial. However, joining such an organization is perhaps not in the best interest of Cyprus for many reasons. Apart from deviating from its long-standing policy of non-alignment, membership in the PfP may also heighten regional tensions, create further obstacles to fostering peace within Cyprus and finally lead to a continued or even increase in militarization in Cyprus.
Heightened Regional Tensions
There is little doubt that Cyprus’ application to join the PfP will be met with hostility and intransigence from Turkey. Turkey has long been publically opposed to Cyprus accession to the PfP and more specifically, Greek Cypriot inclusion in the NATO decision-making process. This was again highlighted and made abundantly clear during Turkish Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu’s recent visit to China. Furthermore, there also exists the possibility that this increase in tensions between Cyprus and Turkey could spill-over and become a matter of contention between Greece and Turkey. While both countries are actively working towards creating a more peaceful and friendly relationship, a row over Cyprus application to the PfP, could have large negative consequences. Thus, Cyprus’ application would only serve to heighten regional tensions and simply foster the current climate of mistrust, deception and hostility between the two counties.
Obstacle to Peace
Subsequent to possible heightened political tensions, applying to join the PfP could also impede current peace negotiations between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities. Naturally a hostile regional atmosphere would greatly impede efforts to find a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus issue, as it can be expected that both Greece and Turkey would need to endorse any planned settlement in Cyprus, as both are legal guarantors of the status quo and sovereignty of Cyprus. It is deemed expect that these two nations will need to agree on any final settlement in Cyprus, not only because of their legal status as guarantors, but also because of past instances, more specifically as was necessary with the 2004 Annan Plan. Naturally, in order to assist the development of a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus issue, a culture or climate of peace is necessary within the region and with Greece, Turkey and Cyprus at odds over the PfP, creating such a climate will be difficult, despite any solutions or accords that the Greek and Turkish Cypriots may agree upon.
Furthermore, a Cypriot application to the PfP could open the door to new bargaining demands from Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot community respectively. Such demands may include the ratification of the EU`s direct trade regulation with northern Cyprus, which at present, has failed to materialize. This would place additional burdens on the current negotiations and could even maintain the prospect of derailing the negotiations entirely. However, if Cyprus was indeed to concede and support the direct trade regulation, in exchange for membership to the PfP, the motivation, however little, and desire for the Turkish Cypriot community to continue with the ongoing political negotiations may drastically erode. Apart from the implications in joining the PfP with the current or any future negotiations, there also remains a major obstacle that may come into play even with a divided or united Cyprus. This of course is the prospect of an increase in the militarization of Cyprus.
Perhaps one of the strongest arguments against Cyprus membership in the PfP, is the potential of the continued militarization of the two communities. In order to foster peace in Cyprus and as outlined in the Annan Plan, it seems expected that any future comprehensive settlement would call for a complete demilitarization of both communities and the evacuation of all foreign forces, within respect to previous agreements, particularly the 1960 treaties of Alliance and Guarantee. Apart from being expected, it is perhaps necessary that demilitarization occur in Cyprus. A reunified Cyprus that maintains Greek and Turkish Cypriot forces, not only may remain as a source as tension, but will ultimately foster fears that violence may one day erupt in Cyprus once again. Membership in the PfP will certainly hamper attempts to demilitarize the island and will present new obstacles should a comprehensive reunification of the two communities be achieved.
Moreover, If Cyprus was indeed to join the PfP and thus desires to play a meaningful role within the CSDP, it will thus add increased pressure upon the Cypriot authorities to maintain a sufficient level of military capability. How and what would be Cyprus` contribution should it be demilitarized? What role would it play in the EU’s CFSP/ESDP and within NATO itself? Apart from potentially increasing its own security vis-à-vis NATO’s collective security, Cyprus would in reality have little to offer. Thus, in order to create some sort of meaningful contribution, Cyprus would naturally be required to maintain some degree of military capability, which would of course impede demilitarization.
The subsequent scenario foresees a reunified and demilitarized Cyprus as a member of the PfP. As stated above, their contribution to security and defence matters would be largely insignificant. However, maintaining its demilitarized status, Cyprus could offer its important geo-strategic location to the EU and NATO as its main form of contribution. However, the prospect of stationing additional foreign forces in Cyprus could upset a delicate commitment to peace and thus the prospect of an increase or continuation of the militarization of Cyprus would become reality.
It would at present appear to be in Cyprus’ best interests to refrain from participating in the PfP and EU CFSP/ESDP, especially while the two communities are engaged in ongoing political negotiations. Cyprus should only consider becoming a more active player in EU foreign and defence affairs, only after a viable and sustained settlement has been in place for a number of years. In this context, Cyprus should also actively endorse Turkey’s application to the join the EU and only after this has been realized, along with a sustained political settlement between the two communities, should Cyprus begin to explore further involvement in security and defence affairs. A settlement to the Cyprus issue, the accession of Turkey and the demilitarization of the island would render any realist security issues of Cyprus null and void. It can then become fully integrated with EU security and defence matters as a voice of peace, non-violence and demilitarization. Abstaining from membership at present can furthermore allow the EU to press ahead with NATO cooperation and allow for the beginning of a new era of integration across Europe.
>> Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Yesterday, September 13, 2010, the Turkish people voted in favor of constitutional changes that would alter the 1980 Constitution inaugurated after a military coup. The constitutional amendments will help curb military power of government and politics and give parliament more power over the appointment of judges and other top positions.
For Cyprus, these results are positive. Turkey has been internally plagued by a close balancing act between political desires and military desires. Any Prime Minister was required to walk on egg shells and maintain the support and balance with Turkey's military leaders.
With the new changes, the military will more accountable to their civilian masters and thus can give the political leaders more flexibility with regard to negotiations over the Cyprus issue.
Thus, both communities in Cyprus must now strike when the iron is hot. But unfortunately, this will most likely fail to occur. With Greek Cypriot President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Errol at odds over the current reunification negotiations, progress on the Cyprus issue seems grim.
Personally, What I think is more disturbing is the lack of unity amongst the Greek Cypriots. Apart from the differences between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot positions at the negotiating table, internally, the Greek Cypriot position is also extremely divided. It might even be best for Christofias just to quit from negotiations as his fellow 'comrades' are failing to lend him the support and unity he needs. With no one supporting the President's initiatives, it is very unlikely that anything will come from the current negotiations. Even if by some miracle Christofias and Errol agree on some final text reunification plan, it is sure that internally the Greek Cypriots will be bitterly divided and any subsequent referendum will surely fail, as in the referendum of 2004.
The political parties that were quick to lend their support to Christofias' candidacy in the previous Presidential elections are now the same parties criticizing his negotiating positions and progress. There are only 2 equations that can be drawn from these events. 1) That the party leaders who support Christofias during the campaign were stupid and unaware of his plans regarding the negotiations or 2) gave their support at that time to gain favors and are now playing the populist card and heating up the nationalist card to gain public opinion and support.
What is needed from the Greek Cypriots is unity. How can we complain of the division of Cyprus when we ourselves are further apart than the two communities? Unfortunately the party leaders and members are far too concerned about their own benefit than making difficult sacrifices in order to promote national unity. What is needed is a brave and courageous leader. One who can see past the insignificant party differences and rally his colleagues to unity. The unity must be in the form of an AKEL - DISY coalition. Naturally, most who are aware of Cypriot politics will tell you immediately that this is impossible as the parties are essentially sworn enemies and on opposite sides of the spectrum. However, as the two largest parties, it is only this coalition that can really create a spirit of national unity that is needed to head to the negotiation table with ample support and backing. However, the parties are too diametrically opposed that the chances of them cooperating to such an extent will be impossible. Indeed is such a coalition were to be created, it would surely be regarded as historic. However, such historic and irregular events are exactly what are needed in order to make other historic events. (Such as the unification of Cyprus).
The unification of Cyprus will not be a day-to-day event, but rather a truly historic one. This naturally will require historic decisions and historic people. Where are they? History is waiting for you.
>> Friday, July 23, 2010
You are sound asleep, when suddenly a horrendous sound seeps through your open bedroom window. Your eyes swing open as the sound deepens. Still not fully awake, you quickly come to realize that this is indeed an air raid siren. You wonder what's going on, then quickly realize its July 20th. The anniversary of the Turkish intervention in Cyprus. Knowing all is well, you wait for the sirens to stop and drift back to sleep.
This time however, I started to wonder, what was this event like 36 years ago? Knowing the degree of political tensions and past violence, would the sirens have been something new? or just another warning that more violence was occurring? Not forgetting that a mere five days before, the sirens would have sounded again during the Greek coup. Would I have turned on the radio and listened to reports that Turkish troops were landing near Kyrenia? What would I have done? What would you have done? How do those who lived through these experiences react upon hearing these sirens each year?
Most certainly images and experiences of the past immediately flood to the forefront of that person's mind. But more importantly, what purpose do these sirens serve? Are we to remember the violence committed against 'us'? Is it to serve as a reminder of all the violence that has occurred by both communities? Of course the rest of the day is full of television and news programs, re-hazing the events of the Turkish actions of 1974 and thus it seems more likely that we are asked to remember those wrongs committed against us and only us. There are no events by the Cyprus government which invokes remembrance of the tragic events which occurred to the Turkish Cypriots. However, in order to create a life of peace, we must all develop our ability to empathize with the other.
Instead of re-hazing those tragic memories of 1974, why not challenge ourselves and try and understand what a Turkish Cypriot might have thought. If you were a Turkish Cypriot (or Greek Cypriot) would might you have thought of the events of 1974, 1963, 1960, & 1955?
This is the key to understanding the 'others' pain & suffering and finally to develop a capacity to empathize with their views, feelings and desires. Only by understanding the emotions of our compatriots will we be able to build a constructive peace in Cyprus. Focusing merely on 'our' elements of pain and suffering does little in the path of reconciliation.
Of course we should never forget the events of the path, but instead of using them as an instrument of violence, we must use them as an instrument of peace.
>> Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Peace has eluded Cyprus for much of its existence. Even before the modern state was born, conflict and violence was ripe. While many states have indeed been born through violence (Civil War, seperatist movements, independence struggles etc,) In Cyprus, the conflict continues to be the main focus of the national agenda and little is being done do perpetuate a culture or climate of peace. Aspects of cultural and structural violence are still being fostered through the state and its institutions.
A Ministry of Peace, should not just be a goal for Cyprus, but should be established as an institution in all governemnts and other supranational bodies. (Such as the EU) Of course the scope and powers of such a ministry would be catered to the specific needs of the society, state or international body from which it is established. Today, many states are toying with the idea of creating some sort of Ministry of Peace and some nations have already established such institutions. (Costa Rica & Nepal). Canada has a bill before parliament to create a Department of Peace, while lobbyists in other countries have organized campaigns for such a cause, including the United States, Australia, The United Kingdom, Italy, Uganda, New Zealand, Japan & India. It seems logical that if a society wants to live in a state of peace, that a government institution should indeed exist to facilitate such needs. There are departments and Ministries of Defence to provide for the security of the state's citizens, departments of health to provide medical facilities and thus, it again seems logical that a Ministry of Peace should be a necessity in all states.
Establishing a Ministry of Peace in Cyprus would of course present itself with many cultural and contextual issues. Thus, such a Ministry would have to take into account these historical and specific matters. This would need to include a sub-department of reconciliation to organize and conduct reconciliation efforts in general and to reconcile the differences between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots, while at the same-time developing concrete strategies to build trust and foster a sense of brotherhood.
However the real question that must be addressed is how this ministry would be created? Would it be an institution of the Republic of Cyprus only? Would the Turkish Cypriot North have to create such an institution? Where does it fit in a re-unified Cyprus?
I will attempt to answer these questions, which I believe there are two answers. One address a Ministry of Peace in the current political status-quo and the second address the ministry in a re-unified Cyprus.
1) A Ministry of Peace under the status-quo.
The people and government of the Republic of Cyprus should not wait to establish such a ministry and include its plans only in the event of reunificaiton. A Ministry of Peace should be created at the earlier possible opportunity and in the event of reunification, the Ministry should then be re-modelled. (This will be discussed below). The Cypriot government should take all necessary steps to create a Ministry of Peace immediately. Even without a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue, the Ministry would still be useful and necessary. Maintaining the status quo, the mandate of the Ministry of Peace would have a side-effect which would assist in paving the ground for re-unification. However, it is important to note that the Ministry is not and should not be charged with a political objective, such as reunification. It must operate on the premise of creating a culture of peace among the citizens of the Republic, which as mentioned above, may create some side-effects that may assist re-unification efforts. But again, this is not the goal of the Ministry.
Whether or not a similar institution is created in North Cyprus, while it would be favourable, is not and should not be dependant on the creation of a Ministry of Peace within the Republic of Cyprus. If indeed a similar institution was created by the Turkish Cypriots, it would only enhance the natural "side-effect" of the Ministry and double progress towards reunification and reconciliation.
However, what would a Ministry of Peace look like in a united Cyprus?
2) A Ministry of Peace in a united Cyprus.
This section deals with the existence of a Ministry of Peace in Cyprus post-reunification. If a Ministry is already established by the Republic of Cyprus, or if it does not yet exist in a situation of re-unification, the objective is the same.
Naturally, if a Ministry of Peace has yet to be created in a post-reunified Cyprus, it must be done so at the earlier possible convenience. If a Ministry of Peace is already established at the time of reunification, then the Ministry will have to be re-modelled along the following parameters. Additionally, if there exist a similar institution by the Turkish Cypriots, the two institutions should be merged into one.
In a post-reunification society, a Ministry of Peace should be established as a supranational institution. The Ministry should be given power and authority to act and shall be delegated by the constituent member states. As a supranational institution the Ministry will be above constituent state concerns and issues and will operate with the interests of both constituent states in mind. It will be modelled in a similar situation to that of the European Commission. Similarly to the E.C. both constituent states will be permitted to send "comissioners" and the Minister himself should be selected by the united parliament or by a join session of both constituent legislatures. In a unified Cyprus, the Ministry must be supranational as it must exist above national politics and political bargaining. Furthermore, as seen through the EU and the spill-over concept of functionalism, the new supranational body will help in shifting loyalties from state and local ones to supranational loyalties. Having the ministry operate at a supranational level will also cause spill-over into other societal functions.
Be it as a part of the Republic of Cyprus or a unifed Cyprus, a Ministry of Peace will forever have a vital and key place in Cypriot society.
>> Tuesday, June 22, 2010
For over 19 days a good friend of mine and former classmate at the European Peace University has been held in prison in Zimbabwe. He has been denied bail and is in fear of his life. The story has finally been picked up by the BBC. Please help. Write a letter, it takes a minute or make a donation.
Visit the website set-up by friends to help.
Please take the time to help. There are ready made letters you can e-mail to the Zimbabwean Government as well or you can make a donation. Check under "Actions"
Amnesty International is also involved.
Here there is also ready messages you can send to the government.
As a result of the current global financial crisis unemployment in Cyprus has hit its highest levels since 1974. The current 7% unemployment rate, is taking its toll on the Cypriot population. Many are without work and facing difficult financial times.
In a recent news report at the high unemployment rate, many people (including foreigners and Cypriots) were interviewed to express their concerns of the current state of the economy and the rate of unemployment. Outside the unemployment office, many people said, "Yes, it is hard, but we are looking for work so we can get by." Most who gave this answer where non-Cypriots. When the camera turned toward the Cypriots, their answers were also generally the same. "It is the rise in foreigners that has cost us our jobs."
It is interesting, but not surprising, that the Cypriots chose to blame the foreigners for their problems. More so, it would appear that the local Cypriots are blaming the foreigners for the ails of the global economic problems. I personally, do not see the link. However for them, the link was quite evident.
With these attitudes, it is no surprise that a recent survey of some 200 high school students reveled that over 60% of them believed that migrants negatively affect Cypriot society by "taking our jobs". Responses such as "they steal from us", "They should go back to their countries" and "they should not be here".
These statements are characteristic of many things. One might quickly associate the terms of prejudice, stereotype, discriminatory...etc to these sorts of comments. There is one term though, that most would not view these types of statements as.....violence. However, this is exactly what they are; Cultural Violence to be more specific.
Although there is no warfare or military action in Cyprus, there is still a great deal of "invisible" violence. Cultural and Structural violence are the precursors to direct and visible violence. There is not much left before these ideas are manifested into direct violence. Most would agree that it wouldn't take much to stir the pot resulting in an explosion of violence in the streets in Cyprus. This is the real issue Cypriot authorities and the government should be concerned with. But not just of the possibility of Cypriot lashing out against minority groups but also vice versa. We are too busy however in fighting over the colors of a new Cyprus flag and who will sit where in a united Cyprus, to pay close attention to the social problems brewing.
This is another reason why Cyprus must adopt a position of multiculturalism, similar to that of Canada. Cyprus has always been at the cross-roads of civilizations and day after day, more and more migrants are choosing to make Cyprus their home. Be they from Europe, Africa or Asia. The reality is that we, as a society, are not affording these individuals the respect, courtesy and equality any and all human beings are born with. We are in fact not granting them anything. These things are a right for all human beings.
It is interesting that at the same time, Cypriot MEPs are hosting a gallery in Brussels, displaying the destruction of their culture, heritage and religion in Northern Cyprus, by the occupying forces. But when we brush aside other cultural, religious differences and deny them legitimacy ("They do not belong here") we are yet again creating double-standards. The real crisis or "Cyprus Problem" is in actuality an identity problem. For the Greek Cypriot, Cyprus equals Greek. FULL STOP. There is no Turkish minority (They are not really Turkish) and there are certainly no other "minorities" that need to be respected. CYPRUS IS GREEK. This is the view they many maintain and it was these ideas that fostered ethno-nationalist divisions in Cyprus in the beginning. We must learn from our mistake and come to transform these elements that have caused such pain, suffering, division and conflict. We must transcend and find new ways to live in peace, where all people in Cyprus can equally enjoy the fruits of this beautiful, sunny, Mediterranean island.
>> Wednesday, May 19, 2010
It is very clear that a good number of Cypriot youth do not wish to throw away the two best years of their lives to military service in Cyprus. Some 20% of conscripts evade service. In a democratic society this large expression of public opinion should certainly cause a reaction. And in Cyprus, it most certainly has. But not the type of reaction you would expect. (Unless of course you know Cyprus well, then you might actually expect such a move)
The Ministry of Defence today stated that in a bid to "reduce" the length of military service from 25 months to 19, it needs to ensure a more efficient and modern military force. Thus, apart from ordering new equipment, helicopters and tanks, the Ministry also plans to clamp down on draft dodgers.
The logic behind such a move is clearly irrational. It is obvious that Cypriot youth do not want to waste their time in fulfilling their military service, but the state has simply chosen to ignore this and in turn, clamp down on those evading military service.
In a democratic society the voice of the people is meant to be the highest political force. But in Cyprus, just like other so called 'democracies' in the world, this is not the case. Additionally, individuals who object to military service for whatever reason (religion, conscience etc) are actually punished for their beliefs. Current National Guard Law stipulates that if an individual has personal objections to serving in the military, this individual is then required to serve 42 months fulfilling duties that are vague, unclear and undefined.
Other individuals who retain these moral objections to military service are even sometimes imprisoned. This is a clear violation of the moral rights of the individual and personal beliefs. How can it be justified that an individual be forced to serve when their religious, moral, or personal beliefs advise against it? In a democratic society the protection of the rights of the individual is key and fundamental. It is the highest power. The state must exist to respect the individuality of its citizens and not trample on their beliefs.
Even as a Cristian Orthodox, my religion preaches non-violence and if I were to refuse military service based on my religious beliefs, I would surely be fined and/or even imprisoned in Cyprus.
The teachings of Jesus are filled with non-violent sentiments:
"Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly." Lk. 6.27-28
"you know the commandments: you must not kill..." Mark 10.18
"You have learnt how it was said: 'Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.' But I say to you, Offer the wicked man no resistance. If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; Mt. 5.38-41
>> Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Presidential Directives for the creation of a Peace Culture in Cyprus
1) Solution to the Cyprus Problem
A federation is preferred, but if creation of a federation is not acheivable, options including a confederation and a negotiatied partition will be examined and decided on. The Cyprus issue has dragged on for far too long and dominated the political agenda, since even before the inception of Cyprus as an independent nation. This issue must be resolved once and for all.
This involves complete demilitarization of Greek Cypriot forces. There will be no paramilitary training of citizens and all weapons will be destroyed and the possession of firearms, except licensed and approved firearms will be outlawed, with strict penalties.
3) Complete seperation of Church & State
The Church will not be permitted to make public political statements and their actions shall be solely reserved to the conduct of the Greek Orthodox Church in Cyprus. Taxes from the Church will be duly paid to the government with no exceptions.
4) Creation of a Government Ministry of Peace.
The government Ministry of Peace will spearhead public and mass reconciliation programs and strategies. The Ministry will also be responsible for the implementation of peace education in all public and private schools and universities. It will also commission the creation of a Cyprus Peace University.
5) Economic Development
Cyprus will institute a comprehensive proposal for the creation of a vibrant, diverse and competitive local economy. Government expenditures will focus on attracting foreign investment and developing local businesses. The government will re-focus on current areas of economic strength such as tourism, shipping and property.
6) Health Care
Cyprus will strive to implement a National Health Program under which all Cypriot residents will be entitled to public health care. Additionally, the facilities of hospitals and medical centres will be upgrade with latest standards and equipment. Cyprus will also actively recruit foreign medical professionals and strive overall to offer a higher quality of education.
Small medical centres will also be created across the island to allow even the most remote of villages to have fast access to basic medical facilities.
The Cyprus government will also put priority on education giving more funding to publich schools and universities. Academic professionals and researchers will be sough out for recruitment in Cyprus. Strong and high quality public schools will become the hallmark of a new Cypriot society.
8) Public Transportation
Public Transportation services will also be greatly improved. High quality facilities including busses, will be purchased. Existing coverage will be expanded and upgraded to interconnet all towns and villages in Cyprus with efficiency & professionalism.
A intra-city train/metro will also be created to enhance inter & intra-city transport. This will assist in the creation of a modern competitive economy, reduce pollution & reduce traffic congestion.
9) City Planning
City Planning units will be created in each major metropolitan area to coordinate infrastructure development, road maintenance, building plans, parking facilities, park space, public facilities & general municipal coordination.
10) Renewable Energy
Cyprus will strive to become the first nation to harvest all of its energy needs exclusively from re-newable energy sources. This will include specialized funding for research & development and will see the creation of windparks and solar energy plants.
11) Electoral Reform
The government of Cyprus will create the Electoral Reform Commission to examine ways to reform the current electoral process in order to decrease apathy and engage the citizenry more and more in the democratic process.
>> Thursday, April 29, 2010
The government yesterday in an official statement, advised people to stay away from the Immovable Property Commission (IPC), in North Cyprus. Recently, the European Court of Human Rights, (ECHR) recognized the IPC as an effective local rememdy for people in Cyprus seeking to get compensation for property they lost in 1974.
The government however does not want you to go. But why? It is quite hypocritical. Every day the government complains and lobbies the EU and international community that they must respect human rights in Cyprus and that any solution to the Cyprus problem, must be based on the principles of human rights. Refugees should be allowed to return to their homes, Turkish settlers should be re-patriated to Turkey, etc....
However, when the world's foremost authority on the interpretation and application of human rights internationally, declares that the IPC can compensate Greek Cypriots for lost land, the government denounces it. This is exactly the kind of hypocritical, double-standard policies the Cyprus government has mainainted, thus preventing a solution to the Cyprus problem.
Just as with the direct trade regulation. For years and especially during the 2004 referrendum on the Annan Plan, the government complained that any reunification would have huge financial costs associated with bringing the North in-line with the socio-economic standards of the south. And of course the question was raised, "Who would pay for this". Certainly not the Greek Cypriot community and the government. Why should they? But now when the EU is discussing the possibility of beginning direct trade with North Cyprus, the government is furious and determined to challenge its legality. The government fails to see that such a regulation would help the Turkish Cypriot community, by their own devices, improve their socio-economic condition and bring them closer to parity with the south. Thus helping the reunification efforts. Again, this is just more evidence of double-standard hypocritical policies.
Don't recognize the North as an independent country (the government says)
but we dont want to deal with the financial implications of reunification.
Respect human rights
But tell the people not to seek compensation from the IPC
In my opinion the direct trade regulation should proceed. There is no reason why my Turkish Cypriot compatriots should suffer in economic isolation, just because the leaders of our two communities cannot find a settlement. The same goes for the Greek Cypriots. They should seek compensation from the IPC and receive some sort of justice for the land they lost during the events of 1974, which the government of Cyprus has failed to provide for. It is the government's failure to come to a settlement that is keeping refugees from returning to their homes. The people of Cyprus must make their own choices and their own actions.
Peace in Cyprus will never come, but peace is not something that will fall out of the sky one day. Peace is a forever continuing process, a way of life, a commitment to the future. We must all consciously work toward this goal in our day-to-day lives and actions. Peace is in everyone's hands.
>> Saturday, April 17, 2010
It makes no logical sense. Clearly the two Cypriot MEPs forced this decision on the rest of the group. The European United Left (which contains two member from AKEL) has recently posted on their website that they are opposed to the EU Commission's proposal to re-consider a Direct Trade Regulation with N. Cyprus.
As a leftist I am annoyed that my EU counterparts have failed to see the light. The International Crisis Group a leading international think tank believes that implementing the Direct Trade Regulation (or discussing its implementation) could assist in the upcoming President elections in North Cyprus. Such a positive mood, could help facilitate a win for current Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet Ali Talat, a moderate who favours reconciliation and reunification. Currently he is faced with almost certain defeat at the hands of Nationalist hard-liner, Dervis Eroglu.
I also see no reason as to why my Turkish Cypriot compatriots should have to live in economic isolation because the political elites have failed to find a negotiated settlement. The opinion of the European Left is a step backwards and a very disappointing. It is clear that their policy on this matter has been held hostage by typical Greek Cypriot stonewalling.
>> Wednesday, March 31, 2010
How can such a service ever be justified? How is it acceptable?
Consciption is nothing more that slavery. What is the justification which allows the state to force sovereign man to enlist? There can be no justifiable reason.
All over the world individuals are forced into military service. In many states this is actually the norm, such as in Cyprus. The state must not have the power to force any individual to take part in such services. Every individual is free and sovereign. However this is not recognized by the state. Similar to the ability of the state to take the lives of its citizens, the state in reality, retains ultimate control over the lives of the indivuals. Notions of individualism and personal freedom are a farce and merely created to distract the public from more serious matters.
However the state retains no such jurisdiction. The people and their communites render the existence of society and government. It is they who retain ultimate power and authority and it is they who must set government agenda. Instead, the state now sets the agenda for the people. Any legislation that curbs the sovereign rights of the citizens must not be allowed.
Similarily if the state does not force conscription in peace-time, it most certainly does in war-time. Free men are forced to give up their lives and freedom and committ to die on behalf of their state. This behaviour resembles the behaviour of nobles and wealthly land owners in pre-industrial history. If the landowner demanded you fight within his army and you refused, your were kicked off the land, left to starve and ultimately die.
The same situation still exists today. If you fail to enlist as your country demands during wartime you are sure to be persecuted, imprisoned and tried for high treason. However the citizen bears no responsibility for the state plunging itself into war. War is declared by the government and never by the people. One might argue that the government is in place to represent the interests of the public and through the mechanisms of elections and democracy the public has actually ceeded a certain degree of sovereignty to the government to act on its behalf. However, there can be no situation in which the citizens give the government the right to declare war and destroy their lives. The people have given the government the authority to ensure peace, public order and justice. Not to endanger their lives.
By this measure, the ability of the state to issue any declaration of war should be outlawed and must only be declared through referrendum of the people.
Morever, the people must do their part and when it is requested of them to leave behind their freedom and sovereignty to die for the all might King or President, they must outright refuse.
War is indeed the must destruction creation of mankind. However, the business of war has now been left to the elected representatives. If man refused to partake in the destruction of war, it would quickly become extinct as an instrument of foreign policy. But most modern states have forseen this problem and in turn made the refusal of military service a punishable offence of the highest degree.
Citizens of the world must come together and abolish the use of war. It is within their power.
>> Saturday, January 16, 2010
What is the point of prison? To take certain deemed individuals out of society and lock them away from the rest of the civilized world so that their haneous crimes can never be committed again?
Are they thus deemed unfit to stand amongst us in society? Do they no longer belong to society?
But of course it does indeed make sense. If someone has committed a serious offence they should be removed forever or even worse, their life should end.
Ultimately I guess I have two main areas of concern: 1) That the state retains the authority to extinguish life whenever it desires and 2) the complete ineffectiveness and lacking with the prison system.
The State Taking Life
Under no circumstances should the state posses the ability and right to end someone's life. Life is the most sacred of all nature and should not; cannot be, at the which of any organization or society for whatever person. If the person is guilty of murdering and slaughtering thousands, the state must not have the power to end life.
The state exists not to control the masses, but to carry out the wishes and desires of the people and the general will. To quote Rousseau, "The state has no right to put to death, even for the sake of making an example of, any on whom it can leave alive without danger." Written almost 250 years ago, not only do Rousseau's words still ring true, but more frighteningly, they have still yet to be realized. To ponder this for a few moments, it is clear that there is no logical motivation or need for the state to take a life, any life.
Life is not given to us by the state and thus the state should have no authority in determining when it shall end. To quote, Pierre Elliot Treadu, "The state has not business in the bedrooms of the nation." Again, I reiterate the need for the state in carrying out the general will and not determining it.
The Prison System
Why do we merely vanquish those who have committed crimes to a life behind bars, which is certain to produce more violence and hatred? The issue is no necessarily our failure in finding proper or alternative disciplinary actions, rather our mistakes rest in our inability to question the root causes of the crime.
Man A kills man X. An investigation is carried out and Man A is found quilty. In most instances even, the court does not require as evidence motive. With the advent of DNA detection technologies, all that is needed is the matching of 2 strands of hair. The biggest danger to the justice system is its own progression into technology. The court does not require the motive to be understood or uncovered. Once the two strands of hair have been matched, Man A will spend the rest of his life in jail.
More appropriate it would assume to uncover not only motive for the crime but even more so, the root causes. Yes, Man A killed Man X for his money but why?
Why did he need his money? Has he none of his own? Has he no job or employment opportunities? Does he have food on the table? Of course once one begins to ask these question, it can quickly be determined that Man A murdered Man X for his money, because he has not the opportunities and wealth of Man X. Thus the real culprit of course who should be imprisoned for life is inequality and the sources of this man's inequality (lack of education, lack of opportunities, discrimination...etc) should be uncovered and properly addressed.
It is in this regard that I believe that there are no 'random acts of violence'. These are actually 'random manifestations' of inequality.