Michalis Michael, the deputy director at the Centre for Dialogue in Australia’s La Trobe University, presented his book on Monday with guest speakers AKEL MEP Takis Hadjigeorgiou, DISY MP Christos Stylianides and the head of Nicosia university Nicos Peristianis.
He told the Cyprus Mail that the politicians described his book as a “must read” and Peristianis said it was “compulsory reading”.
The author said the book was “ethnically blind” but this “doesn’t mean I don’t have a perspective”. Why choose then to start with 1974, which brings to mind the Turkish invasion and the loss of Greek Cypriots’ homes and properties, rather than go back and include the troubled years of 1963-4 where Turkish Cypriot loss was more prominent?
Michael said that he has dedicated a chapter to pre-1974 events looking into the British administration of the island onwards. But 1974 “imprints division in a demographic, social, political and physical way”.
Michael refers to the “crisis of 1963-1964” as a time where “contentious issues” emerged, each testing “the effective functioning of the constitution” dating back to 1960. Those issues include an integrated Cypriot army, public service quotas, tax legislation, separate municipalities and communal chambers, Michael writes.
“The sectarian and divisive provisions of the 1960 arrangement constituted the seeds that led to its collapse three years later.”
So what’s led to the Cyprus conflict? “Insecurity,” Michael said, for both the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, though he added no one could narrow down the conflict to one single cause. What is lacking and is needed is to be able to synchronise different tracks: internal, external, political, civil society. Currently, debates focus “too much on the process and not on substance,” Michael said.