Cyprus: thousands of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots demonstrate against partition

Athina Kariati, member of the “New Internationalist Left – Yeni Enternasyonalist Sol” in Cyprus.

113 organisations organised on Saturday 24 April two parallel demonstrations in North and South Nicosia under the title “Together on the road for federation”.

It was the first mass mobilisation organised in a coordinated way on both sides of the island since February 2020, when the checkpoints were closed due to the pandemic. At the same time, movements have erupted on both sides against their respective governments.

The political situation in the north and south, with the ‘Cyprus problem’ as a backdrop

On the one hand in the south, scandals, mismanagement of the pandemic and police brutality have exposed the Anastasiades government. On the Cyprus issue, Anastasiades, despite his commitment to be the “President of the Solution”, has lost all legitimacy with the people who want reunification. Since 2017, he has taken a purely nationalist turn, which in the last year has been reflected in the closing of the checkpoints and the installation of barbed wire on the Green Line. The anger caused by all of the above found expression in the Os Dame (enough) mobilisations, which also made a very strong mark on Saturday’s march.

In the north, the election of Tatar following the Turkish intervention and the Turkish regime’s attacks on the political and social rights of Turkish Cypriots have stirred up a storm of reactions. The left and the trade unions have created the platform “This country is ours” similar to the one they had organised in 2003-4, when through their mobilisations they managed for the first time since 1974 to open the checkpoints and bring down the Denktash regime.

Kıbrıs’ta barış engellenemez – Peace in Cyprus will not be blocked

On Tuesday 27/4, the informal 5-party meeting on the Cyprus problem starts in Geneva.

However, Saturday’s mobilization was not under the illusions of the mobilizations in 2016-2017, during the Anastasiades-Akinci negotiations, when thousands of people came down to the street to “call on the leaders to bring a solution”. This time it is clear to both sides that the presidents’ intentions do not represent the wishes of the people who want reunification. On the contrary, they see that the choices made by the leaders and the “guarantor powers” in the last four years since the collapse of the talks in Crans-Montana are leading to an intensification of nationalism, a strengthening of the division and even the possibility of a hot episode in the eastern Mediterranean.

The mobilisations of Saturday 24/4

The slogans that dominated the demonstrations were therefore assertive and decisive:

“peace in Cyprus cannot be prevented”
“shoulder-to-shoulder against fascism”
“Cyprus united, federal”
“this country is ours”
“all armies out”

as well as against the imposition of Turkey on the Turkish Cypriot community.

Saturday’s mobilizations open a new page in the reunification movement. In both demonstrations the pulse was set by the youth. A youth that has spent most of its life with the checkpoints open and communication with Turkish Cypriots relatively unhindered. A youth that has recently experienced the collapse of the talks in Crans Montana and has no illusions about the negotiations.

“If not now when? If not us then who?” some banners read.

On the continuation of the mobilisations

And the answer is us and now! It is in our hands to reunite the island and build the peace we want. The “leaders” are negotiating their own interests and the interests of the capitalists they represent. The interests of the capitalists, in the south in the north, in Greece in Turkey and internationally, are irreconcilable and will never be able to bring a solution, let alone peace on the island. It is time for the bicommunal movement to “negotiate” its own solution, a solution that will truly bring equality and peace on the island, and serve the interests of the workers and youth.

To do this we must continue what we started on Saturday. The movement in the north will continue, because the de facto partition, with the barricades closed and the Turkish regime interfering as it has done so far, will continue to create a reaction. It is therefore up to us to continue in the south and to build a movement of reunification, a movement of solidarity and solidarity with the Turkish Cypriots and joint action to open the checkpoints, against nationalism and war, and for a real solution, by the people for the people.

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