Lady of the House, and I have had holidays several times in Cyprus, and have just returned from a New Year break there….and very nice it was, thank you, with sun, warm wind, and blue sky!
We had always been in the southern, Greek part, and on a previous visit we had driven northwards to the town of Nicosia, to see the Green line. This is simply a barricade in the centre of the town. As the only divided capital in Europe, it kept apart the Greek and Turkish inhabitants. It was not possible to travel across the border a few years ago, but this time, the restrictions had been lifted somewhat, and we were able to cross at a specified area. Visas had to be filled out, and a wait endured, whilst a young, (not un-attractive) lady joined us, presumably to supervise us.
And so we crossed into no-man’s land, to be confronted on the hillside facing us, by a massive Turkish flag….I believe it actually appears in the Guiness Book of Records! It’s also quite a good question for pub quizzes!
We visited the hillside town of Bellapais, with a magnificent Monastery, along with a little Greek Orthodox Church. This is not now active, as the Turkish Cypriots forbade its use as anything more than a museum. It was here that one of our party caused a slight diplomatic incident, as the count of people back onto the coach was one fewer than had seemed to get off!
After a debate between our guide and our Turkish supervisor, and a hurried look in the area by both of them, it was eventually decided that perhaps such a person had not existed, and so the agreement was reached to move on! A pity all such disputes cannot be decided so amicably. However we were all left with the query…..’What if….?’
We descended into the port of Kyrenia. This was a bit of a pilgrimage for us, as an uncle of the Lady of the House had been a sculptor, and had always said we must go to see Kyrenia. Unfortunately there was little atmosphere about the place, as it was very quiet…so much so that as we found seats at one of a number of harbour restaurants, we could easily have had 20 seats each!
Our return over the border was uneventful (but did our supervisor get a reprimand for ‘losing’ one of us?) And so we returned to the more ‘normal’ Cyprus that we know.
Perhaps if the EU can pressurise Turkey to allow the re-union of this small island it might be a move in the right direction. Any resulting legislative assembly or workable political framework might not be exactly what each side would want, but perhaps some more peaceful and positive compromise might be reached. Such a situation now obtains in the country where I was born, even with a sense of fragility.
So perhaps we might yet see the two flags flying together, proudly side by side instead of in an antagonistic way….it’s only a small island, after all!