WHY?

It is puzzling if not completely bizarre when one hears some politicians on the issue of the military in Cyprus and how this relates to the recently ratified treaty of all treaties, The Treaty of Lisbon and the often-misrepresented Alliance for Peace. The latter being just an extension of the NATO Alliance, who lets face it do not have the best of historical records in Cyprus, and more recently Iraq and Afghanistan. Now we are told politics is progressive, it changes every day, and as a result the countless UN Resolutions on Cyprus are allegedly out of date, despite the fact that all the Presidents of The Republic of Cyprus agreed to them on a biblical basis. Demilitarization is not what we need, or so various politicians now say. Instead we need an Army, we need a Military. In all my years on planet earth I have never heard such a load of codswallop. How can parties who claim to want a solution to the Cyprus Problem also aim to extend the life of the very thing that brought us all in the mess we are in – namely the military. Whatever national or political epithet we give to them, in times of war any military force in the world makes rational human beings commit acts of violence which during peace time would be considered irrational. Additionally the under-development of Cyprus, refer to public transport, education, welfare and public health provision, has over the last 50 years has been determined buy the continuous burden of military budgets on all sides. Imagine how much the ‘green line’ costs on a daily basis? Has any one ever calculated the cumulative and collective financial costs of ‘The Cyprus Problem’?

Successive generations of Cypriots had a dream, which some politicians now seem to want to reverse. That dream was simply to have no military, no troops and no bases. Cyprus for centuries has been a prisoner of its so-called strategic geographic location, with fourteen invasions in all. We were led to believe, as the people of the island of love, that we were done with all that, and at some point in the future this would be a place of peace and harmony, where the youth would not have to waste over two years of their lives in the armies, and all the money wasted on guns, tanks and bombs could be more wisely spent on education, welfare, health and public transport.

Former President, Glafkos Clerides, who I have the utmost respect for, lived, as did many Cypriot World War II veterans, through the trauma and catastrophe of war. In fact he spent a large part of World War II in a Nazi POW camp. It was little wonder then why he was so resolute on the issue of a completely demilitarized island. How then can the party he founded, DiSY now play a different tune and try to take that dream away. How can virtually all the parties with the exception of AKEL, also play the same hypocritical game.

Naturally, there is also a more sinister side to all this and Cyprus being such a small place, where much of politics is based on clientelism, often falls victim to its own greedy interest groups. Arms traders, politicians, and the military in general have a lot to lose from the island being demilitarized. Whole nationalist dogmas in Turkey, Greece and Cyprus have been established on notions of a strong military at the service and rescue of ‘the people’ – very often at some one else’s expense. And some people just want to make the negotiating process even more difficult. Imagine now if Greek Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias declares a change of tune to Turkish Cypriot Leader Mehmet Ali Talat by caving in to these weak pleas for maintaining the military. Talat will in turn play the same game, Turkey will also insist on maintaining the occupation with a heavy troop presence in the north, and every one is back in the stone age!

My good friend Zeki Ali, a poet and radio presenter once said “it is far easier to makes wars but far harder to make peace”. Politicians fanning the flames of nationalism and militarism may at some point in the future look at the destruction unfolding on TV screens, and indeed if they still have any humility left, they might just contemplate a painful after thought – perhaps there was a better way…..

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