NewsLocalOpinion: They're not borders, they're boundaries

Opinion: They’re not borders, they’re boundaries

By Chrystalla Hadjidemetriou

The Green Line boundary guards are getting to work, the news says. We wanted 300 (akin to the 300 guarding Thermopylae) but 218 were found. And they start work on the 19th [of May]. A job that didn’t exist until today, hence no matter how thoroughly one scours the Google search engine, one will find no mention of it, except that it involves guarding the Green Line. And neither does the electronic proofreader recognise the word, nor did Babiniotis [Translator’s note: popular Greek linguist] have it in mind when he wrote his voluminous dictionary that we consulted, without however finding a definition. It is obviously someone who guards boundaries. But what do we mean by boundaries? Are the boundaries of our homeland at Kokkinotrimithia, Pyrgos Tyllirias, Athienou, and Agios Dometios?

Of course, we could not call them border guards because that would be an admission that the Green Line is our border. We could use quotation marks as we have been doing for years, burying our heads in the sand. But after half a century of enclosing words in quotation marks in order to (perhaps) make the occupation go down easier, we decided to invent new terms. After all, so many new words have entered our lives: selfie, viral, tik-tok, rapid test, zoom…

Boundary guards, then. “What do you do for a living?” “I’m a boundary guard.” “Meaning?” asks the Dutchman, the German, the Spaniard… who has no idea about this new profession. And now let’s see you have a go at explaining it to him. You should take it from the top. Start in 1963, get to 1974, and end up in 2023, recount how the Green Line was drawn, explain the invasion and occupation of Cyprus, and the use of the Green Line as a passage through which migrants reach the free part of Cyprus. “So, you’re a border guard,” the other person will reply after you’ve delivered an entire lecture to enlighten them. “No, our border is in Kyrenia. A border is one thing, a boundary is another,” you will insist, still thinking that words can change the reality of the matter. That adding a ‘pseudo’ in front of the words state, minister, prime minister, and policeman, differentiates reality in the slightest. Or that if you put those words in quotation marks, the occupying regime will cease to exist. We’ve done so for half a century, but have still failed to abolish it with quotation marks and the pseudos. Just like now, when we’ve installed barbed wire fences ourselves, defining the boundaries. The boundaries of our country, but also simultaneously the boundaries of reason.

This is an unofficial translation in English by CDF available in The accuracy of the translated text has not been verified by the original author.

This opinion piece is also available in Greek and Turkish.

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