reading time: 7 min.

Andromachi Sophocleous: We cannot be whole without the Turkish Cypriots

Andromachi Sophocleous: We cannot be whole without the Turkish Cypriots

Volt is the first bicommunal party in Cyprus and I am proud of the wholehearted desire expressed in our constitution itself that we want a united, federal Cyprus, with political equality.

Publish Date: 10/03/24 15:57
reading time: 7 min.
Andromachi Sophocleous: We cannot be whole without the Turkish Cypriots
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Volt believes that the foundations for this must be set even prior to a political solution and strives for reconciliation, understanding, empathy and recognition of the mistakes of the past. The goal of a viable and peaceful co-existence sets the basis of all our political endeavours. I am proud that the six candidates running for Volt in the upcoming European elections are all united in this desire, regardless of our ethnicity. Our common belief in a united island is what brings us together.

I personally have always believed that we need to work on promoting a genuine understanding of a federal Cyprus, a member of the European Union, as the best viable option for the country. We need to envision a united federal Cyprus, plan for it and then work for it and this is what I have been trying to do for the past ten years.

For the past ten years I have spent hours of my life working on the Cyprus problem, either professionally, or voluntarily through my work in civil society. Upon returning back to Cyprus, all my endeavours were embedded with the spirit of co-existence and the desire for a united Cyprus. After years voluntarily working on the enlightenment and engagement in the Cyprus problem, in 2017, I was one of the founders of the Unite Cyprus Now movement. We first strived to push the leaders towards a solution, we even travelled to Crans Montana and we were there until the last day. Back there, we were in touch with all delegations and we left Switzerland in tears upon the news of the collapse of the Cyprus Conference. But we did not give up. From 2017 onwards we worked with all means to push for moves of co-existence, understanding and reconciliation. With work all across the island and our minds from Akamas to Karpaz, we worked to promote the need for the Turkish Cypriot community to be seen and we have always been part of the Turkish Cypriot struggles. We have also pushed for the European Union to engage more closely with the Turkish Cypriot community and through our interventions we were pushing for moves pointing to the desire for a united federal Cyprus.

All my work through the years points to my wholehearted belief that this island will never prosper unless we work on our wounds. Turkish Cypriot artist, Nurtane Karagil,  had posted a picture on Facebook with the Pentadaktylos range and the phrase: “We all need therapy”. And I do believe it. This island has gone through so much but we have never tried to embrace reconciliation and peacebuilding at the highest institutional level. There is so much work being done at the level of civil society but as long as this is not embraced, especially in the mainstream political sphere and highest institutional level, there is only so much that can be done.

Through the years, I have met so many Turkish Cypriots with whom I have become a family, and my mind sees no distinctions when looking at the people of our island and our island itself. With my comrade, Kemal Baykalli, we established the first trilingual podcast station in Cyprus, Island Talks. In our podcast show, Nicosia Uncut, we discuss issues that relate to Cyprus and concern Cypriots, through the lens of two Cypriot analysts whose opinions are not marked by their ethnicity but by their values and perception of Cyprus as a united island.

My struggles for the island have always spanned across all of Cyprus. This is why I have run to the other side of the divide in Nicosia to march with them under rain when the Turkish Cypriots were walking on the street against interventions on their will or when they were expressing their determination for a solution. I couldn’t help but stand with people on the front lines, against unilateral closure of the crossing points. This is why I cannot accept when the Turkish Cypriots are targeted with online harassment even when simply when they embrace their Cypriot identity. I cannot accept when my good Cypriot compatriots are denied official documentation by the Republic of Cyprus simply because either of their parents were not born in Cyprus. 

Many good people of my community believe that we need to show solidarity with the Turkish Cypriots. For me it is more than that! We cannot be whole if we lose the other half of our people. This is why I have started learning the language of my compatriots. What many Greek Cypriots fail to realize is that without Turkish Cypriots, we cannot claim to be who we are. Without the Turkish Cypriots and without half of our country, we cannot imagine a sustainable future for our country.

One of the things that moved me the most is the thought of the thousands of people that came out to the streets in the period 2002-2004 and demanded a united island, member of the European Union. And I know that the Turkish Cypriots feel betrayed, but I also know that what motivated people back then was their clear vision ahead: a united federal Cyprus, member of the European Union.  So, we need to recreate that vision and this is what Volt is going to strive to do and this is my own aspiration for my political endeavours in the mainstream stage. I believe in the power for things to change but for this to happen, Cypriots have to understand that they are stronger together in an insecure global setting, and an increasingly deteriorating domestic situation. The so many years of division and the lack of political will for true peacebuilding and genuine efforts for a solution, have brought partition first and foremost in our own minds. We need to challenge this, and we need to challenge the course of division. Cypriots are stronger together in a stronger Europe. The future of the Turkish Cypriots lies in greater engagement with the European Union and this is what I will strive to do. 

There is nothing in my life that I have spent more time on than the work on reconciliation, peacebuilding and the Cyprus problem political dimensions. But this struggle is now for much more. This is a struggle for the values of a progressive, green and united future, the values that Volt embodies and that I will strive to work for. Şimdi tam zamanı!

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