By Nicos Rolandis***
At the beginning of December 1983, I met Hugo Gobbi, the Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary-General at the hotel “Des Bergues” in Geneva. Some time had elapsed since the rejection by our side of the “Indicators”, a very positive for us initiative of Perez de Cuellar. I had already handed in my resignation from the post of Foreign Minister. The atmosphere in Cyprus still reverberated as a result of the protests by DISY and AKEL in view of the rejection.
Gobbi was very disappointed. Nine years after the Turkish occupation he could not discern any signal of political will for a realistic solution of the problem. His luggage was ready for his own exit from Cyprus. At the end of our get-together he remarked: “Kyprianou and Denktash deserve each other”.
Gobbi was gone and since then dozens of high officials of the U.N., of the European Union and of many governments went through the proscenium of the Cyprus problem. They all tried to add their contribution for a solution, to no avail. So, the “theatrical performance” still goes on, in a bad taste.
We, Greek Cypriots, live in a world of our own. We wait for Robin Hood to vindicate us, whilst the ground under our feet incessantly subsides. We are still chasing our dreams. In the past we used to reject what was “good”, aiming at what might be “better”. Today there is no “good” anymore, we have to opt between the “mediocre” and the “tolerable”. So we converted ourselves into 21st century Don Quixotes searching for the unattainable. “Don Quixote” at least was a myth – we are jeopardising our country and the future of our children.
What is really tragic is the fact, that the very same people who had been rejecting for years whatever positive was proposed in the past, have the audacity today, when we have reached partition, to accuse AKEL and DISY for the outcome. They tend to forget that it is their rejectionist policy that has brought about the disastrous situation of today.
So, the Secretary-General does not smile any more… And his predecessors in office did not smile either. The five Secretaries-General of the U.N., who served after the invasion of 1974, were all useless and they all betrayed us:
• Kurt Waldheim (1972-81): “He was sold out to the Anglo-Americans”.
• Perez de Cuellar (1982-1991): “He had personal weaknesses” (Which we had invented) (dictum by Tassos Papadopoulos)
• Boutros-Boutros Ghali (1992-1996): “Third Attila” (dictum by Tassos Papadopoulos)
• Kofi Annan (1997-2006): “The nigger who sold us out”
• Ban Ki-moon (2006-): “He blackmails and threatens us”
The same was the fate of the Special Representatives of the Secretaries-General and of other U.N officials, as well as representatives of the European Union and some Governments. Starting from Galindo Pol (1978) to Alexander Downer (2010) almost all of them were enemies of our people.
Strangely, it did not occur to us that probably things were not the way we perceived them. Probably all the above officials were not as bad as we had thought. It never occurred to us that our own assessments may be mistaken and that our thoughts may have been “sailing” towards the wrong direction.
After all, foreign officials are not supposed to express our own credos. They support what they consider as objectively correct and either we or the Turkish Cypriots may disagree with their stand. This is of course no reason for us to attack them and to swear at them.
If almost everybody here in Cyprus and also abroad has reached his limits in respect of the problem of Cyprus, if a percentage of more than 70% of Cypriots (according to polls) are either tired or fed up or do not believe any more in a solution, why should the Secretary-General, the man who has been mandated to pursue its solution, not be allowed to express his concern?
What is really so reprehensible about the Report of the Secretary-General of the 24th November 2010, so as to justify the mud-slinging against him?
1. In paragraph 28 of his Report he underscores that “the talks cannot be an open-ended process”. What is wrong with this assertion? Is there any venture or work in the political, economic, commercial, social, cultural or other field which can be carried out without programming and without a time frame? On dozens of occasions in the past five years, I have also castigated, through articles of mine, our stand on this subject, which also causes plausible doubts about our real wish to solve the problem.
2. In paragraph 29, the Secretary-General states that “the process so far has been characterized by periods of sluggish activity”. The remark is correct. Especially during the first two years of the presidency of Christofias (when Talat was his interlocutor), valuable time was unjustifiably lost, which cannot be retrieved. Probably we have missed forever the train which might lead to a solution.
3. In paragraph 30 there is reference to “the public skepticism regarding the potential success of the ongoing negotiations which continues to grow. This is reflected in all polls in Cyprus. Should the Secretary-General ignore it?
4. In paragraph 31 the Secretary-General refers to the public rhetoric and outbursts of political leaders against the other side which do not help. The daily press in Cyprus and the TV screens are full of such accusations. Is Ban Ki-moon to blame?
5. In paragraphs 32 and 33 there is reference to “selective leaking of texts through media and that the Secretary-General is disappointed to see a steady stream of untruthful and highly negative remarks about the United Nations. There is no doubt that a number of impermissible exaggerations and distortions about the role of the United Nations appear in the media. Let us not forget that we are the country which invented back in 2004 (at the time of the referendum) the notorious practice of incriminating people without any evidence and drugging them through the mud.
6. In paragraph 35 it is stated that international expectations were high. It is disappointing that those expectations have not been met. Is there any objective observer who would be satisfied with the attitude of the Greek and Turkish Cypriots over the past 50 years? Have we all acted in an honourable way? Has each side admitted its own sins? Have we really tried to achieve a balanced solution?
7. Finally in paragraphs 39 and 44 the Secretary-General gives the message that we should be fully prepared for the meeting in January and that in the coming months he will conduct a broader assessment of the United Nations presence in Cyprus. This is a very serious warning which must be carefully heeded. Actually in my article of the 19th July 2008, under the title “Security Council Resolution 430 (1978) – with a tinge of grapefruit”, I advised that members of the Security Council had warned us back in 1978 that the presence of the peace force in Cyprus (which was established 46 years ago) will certainly not be forever. Have we ever thought what might happen in Cyprus, with an unresolved problem and the tensions which appear from time to time, if the United Nations (which is quite often the target of our attacks) departs? Who is going to extinguish the small spark, before it grows into a fire which may spread havoc and disaster?
Hugo Gobbi, to whom I refer above, had once remarked that “the drama of Cyprus is that there is no drama”. He meant that, unlike what happens elsewhere, Cyprus does not have any “hot” incidents and therefore the good and comfortable life has led to indifference for a solution to the problem. So, is it possible that some powerful persons out there, who are sick and tired with us, will move the peace force out of Cyprus and thus create the conditions of “drama” which may lead to a solution?
I do not know whether such a really tragic development may ensue. What I know is that the Secretary-General does not smile anymore. And he is not joking either. It appears that all of us in Cyprus shall either take up the matter seriously, set aside the “asphyxiating time frames” and the various tricks and nonsense which have led to the rejection of 15 initiatives for a solution over the past 50 years or one day the United Nations will pull out. We should all bear in mind that if even one of the five permanent members of the Security Council refuses to renew the mandate of the peace force, the force will depart (veto night). We shall then be left alone with God, Allah and our predicament.
*** Nicos Rolandis is a former Foreign Minister and Former Commerce Minister of Cyprus.