Oct 7, 2020 12:34 pm Stephen Day 3679


I’M A PATIENT man, so waiting is no great hardship to me. If it’s worth having, it’s worth waiting for, but you don’t expect to be waiting forever, now do you? That is unless you are Turkish Cypriot. They’ve been waiting for an end to their unjustified isolation for 46 years. That’s about as near to “forever” as you are likely to get. 

By the time you read this, it will be exactly a calendar month since I sent an ADVANCE copy of my open letter to the British High Commissioner in Cyprus (later published in Cyprus Today on September 5, 2020). Since then, the High Commission silence has been deafening, apart from a very kind offer from His Excellency to join him for lunch at some Covid-restricted, unidentified, future date.   

Thankfully, my efforts to instigate some new thinking about the Cyprus “problem” made some sort of splash on social media, but on the Foreign Office waters of unchanging diplomatic rigidity, they produced not a ripple. 

The British Ship of State sailed serenely on, Titanic fashion, course unchanged, heading towards the iceberg of Cyprus talks failure for the umpteenth time, with the lookout screaming “iceberg ahead” and the captain not even bothering to launch the lifeboats (which even the Titanic managed, half empty though they were). Bumping into things seems to have become a Foreign Office habit (like not believing the UK Brexit referendum result, even after it happened, for instance).=

So what do we do? Well, the Turkish Cypriot people (and their leaders), stopping believing the so-called “international community” (and especially the EU) is about to ride to their rescue would be a start. The forthcoming TRNC elections will provide an opportunity for them to do just that. The truth is, however much they thankfully rely on Turkey, the Turkish Cypriots’ destiny is ultimately in their own hands and nobody else’s. Wake up to the fact. Start listening to the likes of experienced Cyprus talks old hands, like Osman Ertuğ and Ergun Olgun. They rightly are calling for “alternative solutions” for Cyprus and the TRNC in particular, including the blindingly obvious one that there are TWO states on this island, not one, whatever the UN General Secretary General and the British government might currently think. 

There might be an opportunity for the TRNC to change the UK’s mind when we shortly leave the EU for good, but it will take co-ordinated effort and it wouldn’t happen overnight. Making the TRNC’s London office more noticeably proactive, would be a start (at least to the extent that Westminster knows there is one). There is no point in any political initiative unless folk KNOW you are pursuing it, however hard you work. Endless conference “talking shops” where Turkish Cypriots and their supporters spend hours preaching to the converted (in other words “each other”) about how unfair everything is, gets us absolutely nowhere. I know, I’ve attended them.

Pulling together the Turkish Cypriot diaspora around the world, especially in Melbourne and London, in support of “two states” would be essential. Their organisations work hard in the TRNC cause, in both cities, but they do so without any obvious co-ordinated support from the TRNC government. That must change if the TRNC is to get the UK and the Commonwealth listening to them.

There were over 90 new British MPs elected at the last general election. Where’s the campaign to get the Turkish Cypriot view of things over to them? The evidence is, it doesn’t exist. Where’s the effort to even try to compete with the Greek Cypriot propaganda campaign at Westminster? A campaign so successful that most UK MPs accept the Greek Cypriot view of Cyprus history without question. OK, the GCs hold all the diplomatic and economic cards, I accept that, but it doesn’t mean that Turkish Cypriots cannot play what cards they hold far more effectively. Such well-intentioned criticism of Turkish Cypriot propaganda failures is often rejected, in an effort to avoid “losing face”. If such Levantine attitudes lead to Turkish Cypriots losing the argument, what is the point of that? The best policy is to change mindset and win. That would be the real way to “save face”.

Do all this and everything becomes possible, with effort and conviction. Isn’t it time the TRNC took the bull by the horns and challenged the “you can’t do that” approach that the international community has enforced on them for far too long? What has the TRNC to lose by going all out for international recognition? Not through the UN initially, but through the Islamic Conference member states? They don’t need the approval of the UN, despite being members. Turkey didn’t wait for “permission” to recognise the TRNC. They just did it. So could the Islamic Conference countries. It would only take one, then the floodgates would open, just like what happened with Kosovo when they declared their independence from Serbia. The move towards recognition became a stampede, as one after the other UN member recognised Kosovo’s right to exist (including the UK), despite Serbian protests. Once a new state is recognised by some, others follow. Nobody wants to be left out of the act. New business and investment beckons.

The Cyprus status quo is like a fruit, picked and now rotten to the core. It’s been stinking for decades, born of hypocrisy, lies and a totally warped view of what has happened on this island since 1960 “independence”. Rotten fruit needs binning, it infects all around it. Turkish Cypriots need to wake the world up. Shake the diplomatic fruit tree down to its roots. Ripe, edible fruit will fall (and not before time). 

As for the High Commission and the UK Foreign Office, their current silence is indeed deafening. It speaks volumes. Their recent reply to the petition demanding direct flights said it all. “The UK has no plans to allow direct flights”. What a surprise! The UK hasn’t had a novel plan for Cyprus for decades. Hence a stalemate that suits the Foreign Office (FO) comfort zone. It shames Britain. If the TRNC really wants to make the FO totally speechless – go for recognition. That would be a sight to behold.




Get a grip, Boris

AS IF Boris hasn’t got enough on his plate, his own backbenches are becoming increasingly rebellious, especially in those so called northern “Red Wall” seats that fell out of Labour’s clutches at the last election and put him in No10. It’s not surprising. Many of the draconian infringements of personal liberty that his government have recently introduced, as a response to a new round of Covid-19 infections, are very un-Tory in nature. I myself have a natural aversion to them. If I was still at Westminster I suspect I would be adding to the rebellious number. 

What is even more alarming is the fact that such restrictions on life have been introduced without proper parliamentary approval, of any sort. It simply goes against the Tory grain. Indeed, it is worse than that, it is all very un-British. 

In many ways, the micro-management by government of individual’s actions is at a level that goes way beyond the restrictions understandably imposed on the public during the Second World War. It’s all feels very OTT, even when viewed from Cyprus. In 1939-45, restrictions on life were introduced through emergency powers, but NOT without the consent of Parliament.

When a moderate, quietly spoken, senior backbencher like Sir Graham Brady MP, leads the rebellious Tory charge, something is going very, very wrong. No wonder Labour has taken a lead in the polls for the first time since the election. Half the country is in economically disastrous lockdown again. It’s all very well Boris getting a grip on Joe Public. To my mind, Covid-wise, he needs to get a grip on himself.




Cancelling history

I’VE BEEN thinking lately about those who would cancel Britain’s proud history because of our colonisation of distant lands. Just think of the consequences if they got their way and everybody returned to where they came from. The English would have to go back to northern Germany, the Scots to Ireland and the poor Irish to God knows where. Only the Welsh (descendants of the ancient Britons) could be sure of staying where they are. As for the Canadian’s, Aussies, New Zealanders, and Anglo/Irish Yanks, where the hell would we put them all? Daft? Maybe, but not as stark, staring bonkers as the history cancellers. 


About time!

I SEE the TRNC energy union cut off the electricity supply last week to those government departments, municipalities, universities, hotels and businesses who have not paid their electricity bills. A staggering 900 million TL is owed. Kib-Tek branded the action “illegal”. Maybe it is, but isn’t it about time Kib-Tek did something about this scandal? Well done the energy union.


Scaring us to death

The UK government’s chief scientists are considering the introduction of a 

“segmented” anti-virus lockdown (whatever that is). Wouldn’t “demented” be a more

accurate description? The “scientific advisory group” also advise that over five years, 

“missed cancer diagnosis and cancelled operations [due to Covid] could kill 75,000”. 

What are these scientists trying to do? Scare us all to death?




Impromptu Opera

JUST to prove I’m not all rock, pop and all that jazz, I like the opera as well, especially Puccini. In 1997 I booked seats for my wife Frances and I to see La Boheme in Manchester. It was a week day. Chilean Tenor Tito Beltran was playing the lead. The morning of the performance I was called back to Westminster, so I couldn’t go to the opera. Frances took my Mum instead. 

One week later, I was in one of my favourite London Italian restaurants, called 

Giovanni’s. The owner Pino greeted me and invited me to join him at his table.

His other guest was none other than Tito Beltran! That week, he was appearing in La

Boheme in London. I mentioned I had missed his Manchester performance, despite 

having tickets. To my great surprise he said “we can’t have that” and asked Pino to put on a CD of “Your tiny hand is frozen” from La Boheme. He then got up, and to the delight of all present, sang along to the CD. It is something I will never forget, nor I suspect will any of the other diners. The very next day, a signed copy of Tito’s latest 

CD arrived at my parliamentary office. How lucky was all that? Music, eh?