Article of the President of Democratic Rally, Mr. Averof Neophytou
“The time has come to think, dream and imagine a vision of a new Eastern Mediterranean”
Glafkos Clerides and Shimon Peres: The legacy of values of two realistic statesmen with a vision for peace
The Cyprus problem is along with the Middle Eastern issue one of the oldest problems of the United Nations. A solution of the Cyprus problem in the current regional developments could very well be the beginning of a new South Eastern Mediterranean as the dawn of a new Middle East, a vision shared by visionary statesmen and peacemakers Glafkos Clerides and Shimon Peres alike.
As the negotiations for the resolution of the Cyprus Problem are entering a critical phase, the resolve and vision of the late President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, in seeking peace with the Palestinians is a source of inspiration for Cypriots.
President Anastasiades is negotiating in good faith with the Turkish Cypriot leader and a level of understanding and convergences have been reached on key aspects of the negotiations such as the economy, EU and governance that allow a ray of hope. Significant progress has also been achieved in the property issue despite the remaining differences. The territory issue has also seen progress. We could potentially be close to seeing the final stretch of this marathon. The finishing line is in sight, but we are not there yet.
In our meeting in Israel on January 13th 2016 Shimon Peres wisely assessed that a solution to the Cyprus problem will not only help Cyprus but it will also help the region and pragmatically concluded that if Turkey does not show concrete will, free from actions binding Cyprus under its hegemony, a solution of the Cyprus problem will not be reached.
Indeed the time has come where Turkey’s vocal support of the process towards a viable and lasting solution is translated into actions that will allow the finishing line to come forward.
We support this effort as a means to realizing our vision for our country while we are aware of the obstacles that still remain. Our vision for a united Cyprus respecting human rights, with a unified economy, ensuring the four basic freedoms of free movement of persons, capital and goods, and the freedom of establishment.
A united Cyprus will be catalytic to regional cooperation and could well be the beginning of a new era in the region strengthening the appetite for investment and development. In a post solution era, Cyprus relations with Turkey will change, opening up opportunities for cooperation with a large country with substantial energy needs. This improvement will enable partnerships in energy and the sale of natural gas from the gas reserves of the Eastern Mediterranean to Turkey.
A reunited Cyprus can serve the role of a pillar of stability and can very well be the link to strengthening ties between the European Union, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East.
What we need now, is courage. Shimon Peres was a tough realist. A pillar for the security of the State of Israel, a man committed to protecting Israel, its interests and its people. Equally though, and perhaps more importantly, he was the engine of the peace process and ultimately a warrior of peace. His pragmatism did not obscure his optimism nor his confidence. We are all grateful to him for thinking big and dreaming big dreams and figuring out practical ways to achieve them.
Similarly, Clerides was a visionary pragmatist. An assertive realist, whose long political life ran in tandem with the recent history of Cyprus. A statesman for whom the homeland, Cyprus, was holiest, most honorable and above everything else. The greatness of men such as Peres and Clerides is rarely recognized in the heat of their careers. Most often it is acknowledged closer to the end of their physical life. But their values and principles remain a heritage for the generations to come.
As the leaders engage in the negotiations for a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem, both societies need to rise up to the call of history and be bold. The man who in 1996 knew “we are moving on a road full of dangers but know also this is the right road, the best road, the only road upon which we have to move”, during a TedX conference a few months before he passed away, Peres said “The problem is, most of us, prefer to remember rather than to think, dream or imagine”.
I believe we should do exactly this. Dream and imagine. We learn from the past, but in the end the past is the past. Our country, our society, our children deserve a future. Many see the future with reservations and skepticism. We choose to view it with optimism and hope.
And we are indeed hopeful for a solution that’s durable which would create economic opportunities for all the people across the island and would be assuredly a powerful and needed example of what’s possible through diplomacy.
Democratic Rally, President