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Turkish Students Misinterpreted Infinite Corridor Posters

Guest Column by Christoforos Hadjicostis

As a Greek Cypriot, I was greatly offended and deeply saddened to see the false accusations presented by Kerem Limon '97, Levent M. Talgar '97, and the Turkish Students Association ["Infinite Corridor Posters Push Fascism for Cyprus," Oct. 14] taking place in public in a highly intellectual environment such as that of MIT.

Unlike Limon and Talgar, I am not a person who likes to use flashy words. I do not believe in politics (my country and I personally have suffered greatly because of politics), and I will not propagandize or try to argue. I don't have to. The facts of my life tell the story as it is. Usually, I do not like to talk about them, but I find the accusations so unfair that I feel forced to.

In 1974 when I was five, my family and I, just like 150,000 other Greek Cypriots, were forced by the Turkish army to migrate from the northern to the southern part of Cyprus. We took nothing with us other than the clothes that we were wearing. In one day we lost everything that we owned. At the age of 45, my father and mother had to start their lives over again with three small children, no house, no land, and absolutely no property. Now, 20 years later, I say these facts very casually, but please take a second to think about the harshness of them.

At the age of 20, I came to study at MIT. In its diverse environment, I had the opportunity to meet people of various nationalities, and I learned to accept and respect their points of view and their customs. In particular, I met a lot of Turkish people and I became friends with many of them. It was hard in the beginning, knowing that their army had thrown my family out of its own house, but I realized that they were not the ones responsible and that in many ways their customs and ways of living resembled my own. In fact, now one of my best friends is Turkish.

At this point in time, the opinion of most Greek Cypriots and the official policy of our government is close to my beliefs. We believe that all Cypriots (Greek and Turkish) should be able to live together in a unified Cyprus. The Turkish troops should leave the island and all refugees should be able to return to their homeland. Indeed, this was the message inferred by the Infinite Corridor posters. They were reminding the students of MIT that the "status quo" in Cyprus, despite what some people think, is NOT a solution chosen by the people of Cyprus, but a "solution" imposed on them by the Turkish military forces.

However, it seems that Limon and Talgar (and members of the Turkish Student Association) were either too blind and too fanatic to acknowledge what the posters expressed, or perhaps they deliberately misinterpreted them so that they could devote themselves to useless propaganda and to misleading and false accusations about "Greek fascism" in Cyprus. With the vague and, under other circumstances, amusing statement: "We were shocked and just as much disappointed to find that the contents of the board were mostly centered upon the ideas and assertions of "Enosis" (they never explained what the fascist contents of the board were - unless it is fascist to be a refugee and to want to live free in your own country), they started a two page propaganda about "fascism" in Cyprus.

The word "Enosis" that so angered Limon and Talgar was merely mentioned as a historical fact in an article that included a brief history of Cyprus. However, the posters were clearly talking about the unification of Cyprus (not the "Enosis" of Cyprus with Greece), about the refugee problem, and about the fact that for 20 years now there have been Turkish troops in Cyprus. Whether these troops invaded Cyprus or not is not that relevant right now. The fact is that the troops have been in Cyprus for 20 years now and that they should leave. Cyprus is an independent country, a member of the United Nations, and needs no patronizing from Turkey or any other country.

I have deliberately avoided dwelling upon the politics of the past, neither because I have no answers to the propaganda of Limon and Talgar nor because I feel guilty of what they accuse me of. I think it is very easy to get carried away and get fanatic or start propagandizing. It is not my purpose to do that. Besides, that is not the point. Just like the rest of the Greek Cypriots, I think it is time for the new generation to forget about the past and to start looking into the future. As we enter the 21st century, I think it is time that Greek and Turkish Cypriots live together in their country.

Perhaps Limon and Talgar are not very familiar with the situation in Cyprus. They publicly accuse a whole nation (including a number of MIT students) of being fascists. Their accusation is not only false, but it is also irrelevant. I think that such propaganda and such lies are unacceptable in the MIT community.

If Limon and Talgar were amused by what Greek Cypriots think is a solution to the Cyprus problem and if they have their reasons to believe that this solution is impossible, they should have tried to express their opinion without putting words in our mouths.

Everybody, even the Greek Cypriot community, has a right to an opinion and those who do not respect the opinions of others are to be blamed. Creating such a false impression about what the posters portrayed and libeling the Greek Cypriot and Greek community is unacceptable. Limon and Talgar have only one thing to do: Publicly apologize to the Greek students at MIT about their false accusations. Perhaps in the future they can try to hold their temper too, so that they can understand what posters convey.