Walking through the history and dreaming about a borderless Europe
Learning dates and historical events from books has been always a boring task, don’t you think? You could be a full-dreamer or a free thinker, but still don’t save each tiny detail in your powerful mind. So, what about living directly that little piece of history for real, be surrounded for a moment by it and keep it clearer in your mind? That’s what YEU has thought to do for the several participants of the two events held this time in Cyprus from the 15th to the 21st of June.
Aspirants’ social entrepreneurs part of the “Joining Hands” project from one side and future peace-builders with the inborn drama talent, part of “Excuse me, Is this Hate yours?” project. This has been the audience for the suggestive afternoon in the Cypriots capital.
The right mix of backgrounds and cultures, European and non-European led to the discovering of the buffer zone: the only no-man’s land area under UN control in a EU territory. A constant and non-virtual reminder that the country remains physically and symbolically divided till today, when all of us dream about a borderless Europe.
One step back into the history. Walking around this suggestive open-air museum, where the time has stopped to 40 years ago and shows clearly the division between the two communities. At the entrance the Turkish police was surveilling the flows of visitors asking for their ID cards; an unusual request that has generated different strong feelings in the brain and hearth of the young training courses’ troupe.
A small chat with the Cypriot participants..
Marianna: So, Panos, have you ever visited the other side? Which has been the first thought or the perception that you felt during the journey?
Panos: Actually, even if I live in Nicosia, it has been the first time that I crossed the border in Lidras. In the bus I was murmuring myself “don’t worry, it’s just a trip”. One hour later, I was standing in front of the Greek-Cypriot check control. I was feeling my leg screwing in the ground and when I saw the others forced to show the ID cards, I got nervous. I wasn’t nervous with them, but with myself. I blamed all to one word: egoism, so short but such powerful. For a moment I wondered if some of them could have understood what I was feeling inside. At last, I can say that even if it has been shock for me, I really appreciate the trip, for myself and for the others. They’ve seen with their eyes two realities under the same sky.
Marianna: And you, Miranda, have you ever crossed the border?
Miranda: I have passed to the other side too many times so it was not a new feeling for me. Actually when I saw the police asking me the document I felt bad and offended. Because in someone’s point of view we are supposed to change the country but of course a Cypriot feels offended when you say that you “change” the country just passing the line or being physically in the other part of your city.
Marianna: And, what about being with so many foreigner friends that didn’t know about it?
Miranda: It was interesting; I wanted to observe perceptions of others. And I was also curios of the guide, what he was going to tell. I considered myself really open-minded and really ok with the situation but still I didn’t want the people think about a divided country. I could use an adjective I would say unique. I mean, we studied it at school and we always share our ideas with our colleague but remains only a Cypriot point of view. But, this time I‘ve heard also about foreigners’ point of view, it’s always better to listen more than one.
.. and few comments from the other participant. Let’s talk with Srdjan from Bosnia..
Srdjan: Before I came to Cyprus I already knew the situation, I watched few documentaries. I am from Bosnia and we have similar situation. Our country is also divided but we don’t have like border. I watched about the airport, the one in Nicosia that has been destroyed during the war. It has been for me the first shock. Before the border I saw the beauty of Nicosia, like a modern Western city..but when we cross the border I had some special feeling. It was like the time has stopped to ’74. One side, seems really new with shops, rebuild and the other side everything is old and destroyed.
Marianna: What has affected you more?
I remember the 3 different flags, the Greek Cypriots in one side, the Turkish in the other and the white of the UN in the middle. Once crossed I saw clearly the big difference of the landscape..and I felt sadness because Nicosia is a really beautiful city, but I mean, I could understand what a Cypriots were feeling because of my origin.
Marianna: I know that it’s a hard question, but if you could give a suggestion in order to overcome this situation, what will you propose?
Srdjan: For my perspective the dialogue is the best way. They should understand that the union could improve the situation of all the country, not one part richer than the other. The communication between the sides, without the intervention of a foreign actor.
Vladimir from Russia has acted in the play covering the role of a Cypriot Greek
Vladimir: I think I could understand what Cypriots are feeling. Even thanks to my role character in the project in which I acted like a Greek Cypriot father that doesn’t allow her daughter to love a Turkish Cypriot. I mean. Nowadays seems incredible, but situation like this unfortunately takes lots of time to get into a solution.
And the little Maria from Ukraine
Maria: Sometimes it was a little bit scary when I saw these houses with holes of shots and it was really sad for me when we get to the Turkish part. And when I heard the singing pray of the Muslims, I don’t know, I felt inside a strange feeling. I felt the distance and the differences, starting from the religious division.
Marianna: What about your plays? Do you think it could be a useful tool?
Maria: I think that the project of YEU which I am currently part of, could be a good tool. I mean, we are different participants from opposite countries that face or have faced conflicts situation like that but, we are simply friends. I don’t have the solution at the moment, but I am sure that also put a little piece of puzzle could lead to the understanding between all of us.