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Cyprus News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-05-22

Cyprus News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>


  • [01] Understanding of fears, multi-identity can help solution

  • 1250:CYPPRESS:01

    [01] Understanding of fears, multi-identity can help solution

    by Maria Myles

    Nicosia, May 22 (CNA) -- The Cyprus question cannot be resolved unless Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots are reeducated to understand each other's fears and past suffering and shed their strong feelings of attachment to Greece and Turkey.

    "If you do not understand the legitimate fears of the other side or their past suffering, then you are not ready for reconciliation," Professor Alfred Grosser, leading academic and prominent figure in efforts to reconcile France and Germany after World War II, told CNA in an interview.

    The feeling of Cypriot citizenship must prevail over other national or ethnic attachments, and this will help shape the relationship between the two sides, he said.

    Professor Grosser expressed the view that the leaders of the two communities, President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, "have to be reeducated to look to the future and realise the other one has anxieties and has suffered in the past," he added.

    On this score, he welcomed President Clerides' repeated public apology to the Turkish Cypriot community for the killing of some two hundred Turkish Cypriots during the intercommunal fighting in 1963. No such apology was ever made by Denktash for the death of Greek Cypriots during the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus.

    "Acceptance of the past helps create the future," professor Grosser said and explained that people "must not be defined by only one identity" because each individual has a multiple identity which can transcend strict definitions of ethnic or national identity.

    He stressed the aim of education "is to liberate without distancing" people from their national, ethnic or other beliefs.

    He explained that people in Cyprus have to feel "first and foremost they are Cypriots and put aside their Greek or Turkish identity for a better future of their own country."

    Grosser underlined that this approach does not necessitate relinquishing one's national or ethnic feelings but pointed out it would "help people find compromises and make people feel responsible for the other side, a feeling which would lead to better understanding of each other's fears."

    "Whatever one side does on the island inevitably has some repercussions on the other," Professor Grosser, author of several books, said.

    Asked what advice he would give to people here to move towards a settlement, he said each side has to give a "promise not to blackmail the other in international affairs" and both have to "be taught to discover something different in their identity."

    Repeating his call for recognising each other's fears, Professor Grosser said this could help adjust the issue of the presence of Turkish troops in Cyprus through mutual agreement as well as the issue of free movement throughout the island.

    He acknowledged that Turkey's crimes in Cyprus far outweigh other crimes committed but hastened to add that "being a victim does not mean you cannot be an aggressor."

    Asked how one should deal about just retribution, Professor was confident that "there is no just answer to this question" and advocated "compromise".

    He said the problem in Cyprus is far easier to resolve than other conflicts such as that in Rwanda or differences between Japan and Korea.

    The problem here, he said, is to find the right balance between the rights of the minority and those of the majority without being unfair to either of them.

    In the past, he noted, the Turkish Cypriot minority "blocked institutions" on the island and the Greek Cypriot majority tried to apply new ideas through "unorthodox means".

    Professor Grosser said the European Union faces a similar problem in its dealings with small and big member-states and referred also to the troubles in Northern Ireland, where the rights of the Protestant majority have to be counterbalanced with those of the minority.

    Professor Grosser, born in Germany, took refuge in France with his family in 1933 when Hitler came to power and is now professor emeritus at the Institute for Political Studies of Paris.

    He is a regular contributor to prominent French and German newspapers and was awarded in 1975 the peace prize of the Union of German Publishers and Booksellers for his untiring activity to reconcile France and Germany.

    CNA MM/GP/1997

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