Greek Cypriot leader, Nicos Anastasiades, and Turkish Cypriot leader, Mustafa Akıncı,
Over the past several weeks, the people of Cyprus have been anxiously watching as warships park themselves in and around our waters, and politicians give blustery speeches threatening the delicate peace in our region. As a team of young Cypriots passionate about the environment and peace, it is our moral duty to urge you, our leaders, to stand together and de-escalate tensions surrounding the exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbon resources in the Eastern Mediterranean, and not allow our island to be drawn into a larger geo-political maelstrom that will only serve to threaten the lives and livelihoods of our families and friends.
Our cohort, consisting of both Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots, serves as an example of the cooperative and forward thinking work that Cypriots are capable of as we consider the future of our island. The most recent geopolitical developments surrounding the exploitation of gas fields outside of Cyprus stand against those principles of mutual understanding, cooperation, and trust.
In contrast to the promises that this gas would bring peace to Cyprus, 2020 is the third year in a row without meaningful negotiations between the two communities, while tensions due to gas exploration in our waters are reaching a critical point. At the same time, it is an open secret that some political leaders on the island would consider the Cyprus problem as “solved,” pushing towards the permanent partition of our home through their inaction and lack of cooperation. We strongly condemn the continuation of this unsustainable status quo and we believe that the Cyprus problem can only be solved with the reunification of the island.
Therefore, we cannot stress enough the urge to the leaders of the two communities, and to all parties involved, for the immediate resuming of the reunification talks from where they had stopped at Crans-Montana. We urge you to build the spirit of cooperation and understanding between Cypriots, rather than allow ourselves to be exploited and pulled into the geopolitical ambitions of foreign powers. Cypriots must stand together in rejection of a status quo that brings us to the brink of war, and that begins with the leaders of our island.
The exploitation of natural gas will have an irreversible and deleterious effect on both the Mediterranean Sea and on those of us who depend on the sea for survival. Our sea, which Cyprus’ tourist heavy economy depends on, has already been scarred by decades of intermittent war, heavy shipping, and general pollution. The nations of the Eastern Mediterranean have done little to protect our most valuable resource, in pursuit of short-sighted economic gain and zero-sum political advantage on one another. The Eastern Mediterranean has had our pristine beaches threatened by oil spills, our precious wildlife killed by underwater explosions, and our very water filled to the brim with plastics.
Finally, as the youth of Cyprus, we are concerned about the effects of further investing in fossil fuel projects will have on the future of our island. Cyprus is uniquely vulnerable to climate change, as we have seen from the massive fires engulfing our island, and the scorching heatwaves and dry spells that threaten public health and agricultural production. Investing in natural gas exploitation may have made perfect sense a decade and a half ago, but we are nearing a point where we need to rapidly decarbonize our economies and invest in economically sound and sustainable solutions.
What we are asking from you:
As Cyprus’ leaders you must not only consider the stakes of gas exploration in terms of number of euros, but also numbers of lives, and the future that you are subjecting your people to. We strongly believe that Cyprus’ greatest resource is the people that live on this great island, and our pursuit of innovative and trailblazing solutions to difficult problems. We ask you to look to us, the youth of this island, who believe that peace and environmental sustainability should be at the forefront of any vision for the future of Cyprus. There is nothing to be gained by continuing the status quo of escalating tensions in this matter, and we have everything to lose.
Tek vatan, tek halk – One country, one people – Μια πατρίδα, ένας λαός.
Andreas Piperides, 25, Nicosia
Angelos Sofocleous, 26, Nicosia
Deniz Özdiren, 24, Nicosia
Dogukan Kansu, 22, Nicosia
Emily Petrou, 18, Nicosia
Erdim Türkmen, 28, Nicosia
Ergün Bey, 24, Kyrenia
Evgenia Chamilou. 22, Nicosia
Fatma Dalokay, 19, Famagusta
Frantzeska Iosif, 23, Limassol
Hatice Benan, 28, Nicosia
Iosef Boraei, 29, Nicosia
Kemal Haşim, 26, Famagusta
Maria Kola, 29, Nicosia
Merve Ilkan, 22, Nicosia
Myrto Skouroupathi, 26, Nicosia
Nikolas Michael, 24, Limassol
Önder Erdoğdu, 26, Nicosia
Polymnia Glykeriou, 27, Larnaca
Süleyman Kutlu, 22, Larnaca
Vijdan Şengör, 28, Nicosia
Charis Theodorou, 27, NicosiaThe post Letter on behalf of a team of young Cypriots passionate about the environment and peace in Cyprus first appeared on AVLI.