As we write this, potentially thousands of tons of oil are on their way to blanket the east coast of Cyprus, with some of it already reaching Dipkarpaz/Rizokarpaso, irreversibly damaging the sensitive marine and coastal ecosystems of that region. While we are monitoring the situation as it develops, several facts are clear.
First, the spill originated at Baniyas Thermal Station, a power station in Syria that, like in Cyprus and much of the Middle East, uses oil to generate power. As details emerge, it is clear that the plant has been neglected after years of conflict/civil war in Syria.
Unfortunately, countries in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East, including Cyprus, have been prioritising conflict and the pursuit of profit at the expense of health, safety, and the environment. The fact that no country in the aforementioned region has embraced the revolutionary potential of renewables, and instead all continue burning fuel, is a testament to the vice grip that fossil fuel led economic and political interests have on countries all across this region.
Second, the administrations in the north and the south of Cyprus are once again hamstrung by the political situation on our island. While we commend the efforts to “inform” one another about developments, the COVID pandemic has demonstrated a huge lack of a coherent plan for cooperation between the two sides in the face of various crises. This became obvious over the past years with the deadly wildfires which have left behind burned land and destroyed ecosystems. Whilst Cypriot authorities have been aware of the oil spill since 26 August, plans to take action only emerged on 31 August. Even though the Republic of Cyprus has an oil spill response vessel (Alexandria) as well as other technical equipment and expertise to handle the crisis, the Turkish Cypriot administration has chosen to ask for help from Turkey. Every person in Cyprus, directly or indirectly, is dependent on our island’s sensitive ecosystems. We deserve a response that prioritises our island first, and sets political agendas aside.
Third, the extraction of and reliance on fossil fuels in the Eastern Mediterranean means that disasters like this are just waiting to happen. Even as we see oil cover our eastern sea, political elites in this country are unified behind the senseless strategy, supporting offshore drilling in those same waters. There is no such thing as a “natural” disaster anymore. Every wildfire, every drought, every square kilometer of nature destroyed, is a result of political decisions or inaction and our politicians have all been complicit in this regard. Even the “green” or the more “socialist” political parties have done nothing to advance environmentalism or socialism, but rather embraced the hydrocarbon projects, contributing to the commodification of our common sea.
Fourth, the rampant conflict and instability in our region is a recipe for climate disaster. As we have seen just this year with the worst wildfires on record, and recently when we had the worst drought in 900 years, we are going to need a coordinated and region-wide response to the climate crisis. The fact that we cannot even coordinate a response to an oil spill, a disaster which struck the same region before, means that we need to make a drastic change. This means putting aside the politics of mutually assured destruction and embracing a policy for the future, one that prioritises health and safety over the pursuit of power and profits.
We demand that the administrations on both sides of the divide rise up to the occasion and immediately coordinate a response to the Baniyas Oil Spill.
At the same time, we demand for a public commitment for the protection of our common natural heritage, with specific emergency response plans for different types of disasters (wildfires, oil spills etc), as well as a joint declaration cancelling hydrocarbon exploration projects combined with a commitment for an island wide decarbonization strategy.The post One Sea, One Struggle: Avli Statement on the Baniyas Oil Spill first appeared on AVLI.
Young Cypriots come together for a social gathering in solidarity and rejection of division.
Cyprus, 1st of November 2020 – A group of Greek and Turkish speaking Cypriots came together for coffee and conversation in the spirit of peace, cooperation, and human connection. The group came together in response to the latest divisive measures taken by leaders to further divide Cypriots under the guise of public health measures.
The joint action brought together Cypriots from both sides of the divide to share music, art, games, and good company. The event was organised to bring attention to the efforts taken by the leaderships of the two communities to use the COVID-19 pandemic to divide Cypriots by taking unilateral decisions on the matter, and to show solidarity in these difficult times. For the past few months, the pandemic has been used to break trust between the two communities and instill fear, for a health emergency for which collaboration should have been the way of work from day one. This situation has been negatively affecting real human relationships between the communities, while the leaders show no clear end to this de facto division. Characteristically, a message on a banner of the event read: “Borders and checkpoints are made-up. Our friendships and human connections are real.”
Κύπριοι αψηφούν τη διχοτόμηση και συναντιούνται για καφέ.
Νέοι Κύπριοι ενώνονται για μια κοινωνική συνεύρεση με αλληλεγγύη και ενάντια στη διχοτόμηση.
Κύπρος, 1η Νοεμβρίου 2020 – Μια ομάδα ελληνόφωνων και τουρκόφωνων Κυπρίων συναντήθηκαν για ένα καφέ και κουβέντα με πνεύμα ειρήνης, συνεργασίας και ανθρώπινων σχέσεων. Η ομάδα συναντήθηκε σε απάντηση των πιο πρόσφατων διχοτομικών μέτρων που λήφθηκαν από τους ηγέτες για να απομακρύνουν ακόμη περισσότερο τους Κύπριους μεταξύ τους, με το πρόσχημα των μέτρων για τη δημόσια υγεία.
Η κοινή δράση έφερε κοντά Κύπριους κι από τις δύο πλευρές των οδοφραγμάτων για να μοιραστούν μουσική, τέχνη, παιχνίδια και καλή παρέα. Η εκδήλωση διοργανώθηκε με σκοπό να στρέψει την προσοχή προς την προσπάθεια των ηγεσιών των δύο κοινοτήτων να χρησιμοποιήσουν την πανδημία για να χωρίσουν τους Κύπριους λαμβάνοντας μονομερής αποφάσεις για το θέμα, και για να δείξουμε αλληλεγγύη σ’ αυτές τις δύσκολες στιγμές. Τους τελευταίους μήνες, η πανδημία έχει χρησιμοποιηθεί για να διαλύσει την εμπιστοσύνη μεταξύ των δύο κοινοτήτων και να ενσταλλάξει τον φόβο, για ένα θέμα δημόσιας υγείας για το οποίο η συνεργασία θα έπρεπε να είναι ο τρόπος αντιμετώπισής της από την πρώτη μέρα. Αυτή η κατάσταση έχει επηρεάσει αρνητικά πραγματικές ανθρώπινες σχέσεις μεταξύ των δύο κοινοτήτων, ενώ παράλληλα οι ηγέτες δεν δείχνουν κάποιο ξεκάθαρο τέλος για αυτή την de facto διχοτόμηση. Χαρακτηριστικά, σε πανό της εκδήλωσης αναγραφόταν: “Τα σύνορα και τα οδοφράγματα είναι φτιαχτά. Οι φιλίες μας και οι ανθρώπινες σχέσεις είναι πραγματικές.”
Kıbrıslılar Bölünmeye Karşı Çıkıyor ve Kahve için Buluşuyor.
Kıbrıslı Gençler, dayanışmak ve bölünmeyi reddetmek için sosyal buluşmada bir araya geldi.
Kıbrıs, 1 Kasım 2020 – Yunanca ve Türkçe konuşan Kıbrıslı bir grup, barış, işbirliği ve insani bağları güçlendirmek adına kahve içmek ve sohbet etmek için bir araya geldi.
Ortak eylem, her iki taraftaki Kıbrıslıları müzik, sanat, oyun paylaşımı yapmak ve birlikte iyi vakit geçirmek için bir araya getirdi. Etkinlik, iki toplum liderlerinin COVID-19 pandemisi konusunda tek taraflı kararlar alarak, Kıbrıslıları bölmek için kullanma çabalarına dikkat çekmek ve bu zor zamanlarda dayanışma göstermek amacıyla düzenlendi. İlk günden itibaren işbirliğinin temel alınması gereken acil sağlık durumunda, son birkaç aydır salgın, iki toplum arasındaki güveni kırmak ve korku aşılamak için kullanıldı. Bu durum, iki toplum arasındaki gerçek insan ilişkilerini olumsuz yönde etkilerken, liderler bu fiili bölünmenin net bir sonunu göstermiyor. Etkinlikte ki pankart mesajlarından biri ise şöyle: “ Sınır ve geçiş noktaları insan yapımıdır, bizim arkadaşlıklarımız ve bağlantılarımız gerçektir.”The post Release: Cypriots Defy Division and Meet for Coffee. first appeared on AVLI.