August 14, 2007

Moral Superiority and The Road to Peace

We are told by many neutral (and non-neutral) participants in Stravaraland politics that T/C (and Turkey more generally) ride the high moral ground since 2004. I do not want to get into whether this is a valuable political tool or not. (Many G/C, given their 1974-2004 experience, discount this value but I do think that losing the high moral ground is close to suicidal in the current world political climate).

Why do the T/C ride the high moral ground? Well, because in 2004, after 30 years of not wanting (or not being allowed) to talk or meet with a G/C, they massively voted to unite with their G/C cousins. That is one point of view. The other is that the vote was an attempt to enter the European Union and get to the promised land and away from years of poverty. You make your educated guess as to what were the motives.

Since that event we have been bombarded with claims that the “poor T/C are isolated”, “they have no recognition”, “they are poor”, “they should be rewarded for wanting peace on the island”. And, given the inability of the Tee-Pee government to run any public relations job outside a radius of 5 miles around Strakka, the world press has been inundated with calls for the “end to the isolation of the peaceful T/Cs”.

Now, in my simple mind, if you want peace you need first to recognize that in 1974 you over-reacted and used excessive force, an action that would not have been possible in the current world climate. Compared to what Turkey did in the 1974 invasion, the Israeli actions in Lebanon last summer were like a summer excursion to another land with only the picnic baskets missing. I have never heard any mainstream T/C or Turkish party say that, well, “maybe we overreacted in 1974”, “maybe we should not have killed many of those G/C and well maybe we should not have forced half the population to flee their homes”. Short of mainstream political parties in Northern Stravaraland (and eventually Turkey) beginning to recognize that the 1974 actions were unnecessarily brutal, short of them beginning to wonder whether they should say “we are sorry”, there cannot be any semblance of T/C having the high moral ground, however many YES votes they cast.

In fact, this contrasts sharply with the mainstream G/C parties (AKEL and DHSY) that have both, at various points in times, recognized the mistakes of the pre-1974 period and have expressed their sorrow for them happening.

But moral superiority is not the real issue here, as The Cypriot Blame Game argued a few days ago. Whether one is morally superior or not, whether this changes over time, whether you manage to convince the rest of the world you are morally superior or not, all that does not matter one iota. It does not matter because that feeling of moral superiority will never bring you peace on the island. What, instead might open up the road to peace on the island, is the mutual recognition from both sides that mistakes were made in the past. And, unfortunately, I have never seen/met/heard a single T/C or mainland Turk say that “Maybe 1974 was an overreaction, maybe we should say sorry for the pain Turkey caused at the time”. And until T/C and mainland Turks have the courage to say that, until that time, there can not be a healthy/honest discussion about how to bring peace on the island.


Anonymous m said...

Akel or Disy coming out and admitting that "oh we also made mistakes" is not the same as admitting our crimes. IF we admitted them, we would teach them as part of Cypriot History in schools, which by the way is not taught at all... so we don't admit anything if you ask me...

We demonize them as much as they demonize us. There is no more or less here... it's just a matter of culture and we both like to play the θύμα....

14 August, 2007 16:53  
Blogger apodimos Kypreos said...

for the non-greek speaking among you, θύμα = victim.

Indeed, a victim mentality we have on both sides.

Now, I did not claim that saying "I am sorry" is the same thing as "admitting our crimes". But I do think that if you start saying "maybe we also made a mistake" then, over time, there will be a higher probability of "admitting one's crimes". In fact, there is a higher probability that the killers of missing men and women will not be treated as heroes any more but might even end up where they belong (in jail). But learning to say "I am sorry" is probably a necessary step before both sides can move on. And, despite the fanaticism that exists on both sides, I do think the G/C side is ahead of the T/C side in that regard. Maybe by not a great margin, but ahead it is...

14 August, 2007 17:22  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand your point about the T/C's and T's. In addition, I don't understand why don't the people living in G/C villages in the north get together and fix some places of sentimental value to the G/C's, i.e. cemeteries, churches, etc. That was my main complaint after my 1st trip to the north.

On the other hand, how can DHSY hint of a mistake on our part in 1963-1974 yet its most popular MP is the son of Sampson? And how can AKEL justify its NO vote given its declarations? Also see Sener Levent on POLITIS 15/8/07 for some more grievances.

Even in 1974, we (G/C's) committed atrocities; take the trip from Peristeronopigi to Ag. Serkis to see the mass graves. The people who committed them are known to the G/C's yet nobody calls for their punishment or at least an investigation.

If your point was that nobody can claim such thing as high moral ground you are right. But putting more blame on the T/C's for not admitting use of excessive force in 1974 is counterproductive and brings up feelings harmful to the cause of reuniting Cyprus.

PS. For some reason I couldn't stop laughing at your picture.

16 August, 2007 19:44  

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