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    Continue the struggle for peace!

    The younger generations won’t remember peace. We used to use something called CDs. Of course, we had CD players that would play the contents on them.

    We used to watch films and listen to music on CDs. We all had one [CD player] in our homes. The other day I found a very old one in my garage, plugged it in to see if it was working and to my surprise it did. The Japanese must have made these quite durable, almost indestructible.

    peace

    Of course, the reason why I am writing this column is neither CDs nor the world of CD players but there is an issue with CDs involved that’s for sure.

    When I sit down and seriously think about it, it’s been 20 years. Exactly 20 years!

    April 23, 2003… The date when the border gates reopened for crossings, 29 years after [the events of] 1974 in Cyprus…

    It was the days when the most heated debates on the Annan Plan were taking place. There were 80,000 [demonstrators] on the streets. I was newly married back then. In fact, my son Ares was four months old. I was watching the legendary Lord of the Rings trilogy with my brother-in-law. Of course, as I mentioned above, the movie was on a CD. Since it was extremely long it could only just fit on three CDs. Meanwhile, I’m talking about only just one of the [three] movies. The entire series was like nine CDs long…

    Anyway, we had just completed the first CD of part 1 and were moving on to the next CD. As I leaned forward to remove the CD from the player, the screen switched right away to the normal terrestrial broadcast. There was also such a thing.

    Just as I was preparing to place the second CD in, the news ticker on the fuzzy broadcast caught my eye: Breaking news! The border gates are opening in Cyprus after 29 years!

    I still have goosebumps this very moment as I type. I stared at the screen in shock. The news was being broadcast by NTV [private Turkish news channel].

    I immediately adjusted the antenna and we started watching. My brother-in-law and I looked at each other, breaking into screams of joy and hugging each other!

    It was shortly after midnight, I called my mother to tell her of the news using my Motorola mobile phone which was as large as a slipper. It just happened that they too were watching the developments in front of the TV. “A solution is about to happen my dear,” she said, as I wept on the phone.

    My father headed to the Ledra Palace [checkpoint] the next day at 6 in the morning and became the 16th person to cross to the south. He still speaks of this today with great pride.

    We on the other hand crossed in the evening and went to Limassol. I had crossed over to the South several times in the past taking part in various events but this time was much more meaningful and exciting.

    In the days that followed, we crossed daily, going almost everywhere. There was no Euro back then, there was the Cyprus Lira and the currency that we use was not so worthless. Therefore, we were able to go around easily; there was no end to the shopping.

    But the real issue was the relations between the two communities that were reacquainted. It’s easier said than done, it was a curiosity that lasted for 29 years. We were curious about them as they were curious about us.

    I remember walking into a store in Nicosia; the store owner greeted me in Greek. When I started talking in English he asked me whether or not I was Turkish. When I replied yes, he hugged me excitedly, calling me ‘gardaşimu’ [Translator’s note: An amalgamation of Turkish and Greek words meaning “my brother”]. He offered us coffee. As our conversation deepened he told me, “I thought Turkish Cypriots were weak, poor, starving people. You’ve got quite a belly”. We laughed. Just imagine, this is how the Greek Cypriot national doctrine had described us over the years!

    Again in the following weeks, we were sitting at my father’s store in Yenişehir [Neapoli], Nicosia. Crossings with vehicles had also begun. At one stage, a man on a motorbike came in front of the store. He got off and started looking at the shop. As he looked around I understood that he was Greek Cypriot, I walked out of the shop and greeted him with a “Hello”. He said hello in Greek before switching to English, telling me “This store was ours”.

    I invited him in and said “come take a look.” He appeared a little shy and hesitant. And then my father did something that I will never forget for the rest of my life. He walked out of the store and up to the Greek Cypriot. He had overheard us talking. He was holding the store’s keys in his hand, which he extended to the man. “Here I’m giving you back your store!”

    The Greek Cypriot broke down in tears, hugging me. We cried in front of the store for a while. His name was Marios if I’m not mistaken.

    He then asked for help to get to his house located in the Gelibolu [Trachonas] district. I drove him there. His house was next to the primary school. He got out of the car and walked up to the house weeping. There was an old woman, sweeping the front of the house. Approaching her I asked, “Aunty, this man has come from the south, this is his house… will you let him take a look inside?” The woman opened her arms and said, “Oh mana mou! [Translator’s note: use of Greek term of endearment, equivalent to “my dear”], of course, you may!”

    We all walked in, Marios was crying, I was crying, and the woman was also crying… Those days came and went with such stories.

    Probably everyone has a similar story to tell about this.

    And now a whole 20 years have passed since those days… A whole 20 years!

    Those born that day are now studying at university and the Cyprus problem remains unresolved, making no headway. In fact, the situation is regressing!

    We see very clearly how our story, which has brought us from the days when the solution was close enough to touch, to where we are today, has made us worse.

    I also remember how the late Christofias, who was not happy with the opening of the crossings back in those days, had argued: “It will make the division permanent.” It seems that the prophecy of AKEL’s General Secretary of that day, who rejected the Annan plan and dragged us into annihilation, turned out to be true today. Although he significantly contributed to this by saying no to the plan, it’s still not over!

    Our struggle is not at all over!

    We continue our struggle for peace, reunification and integration with the world, and repeat the same slogan!

    Peace cannot be prevented in Cyprus!

    It won’t be…

     

    *Opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of CypriumNews.

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