Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Cyprus: the anti-nationalist discourse

Angelique Chrisafis (left) had an article in yesterday’s Guardian concerning the discovery of the remains of her uncle in a mass grave 34 years after he’d gone missing during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. Her uncle was from Komi Kebir in the Karpasia region of the island and was one of 1,619 Greeks missing since 1974. In the last two years, UN investigation teams have been excavating the remains of some of the missing and revealing that the Turkish army or Turkish Cypriot terrorists cold-bloodedly slaughtered them.

Chrisafis hints at the barbaric frenzy unleashed by the Turks in Cyprus in 1974, though in true Guardian style she is reluctant to call things by their name and instead wishes to accuse all sides of atrocities, an inevitable outcome, she says, of Greek and Turkish nationalism, which, she goes on, are alien to Cyprus and were imported to the island.

The ‘analysis’ of the Cyprus problem that blames competing nationalisms for the conflict, equates the goals and essence of Greek nationalism with Turkish nationalism, and asserts that both Greek and Turkish Cypriots suffered equally and that therefore neither side can legitimately have sole claim to justice, is increasingly prevalent in discourse on Cyprus, and is nonsense. Here are a few reasons why:

Atrocities on both sides
It is absurd to equate the losses suffered by Turkish Cypriots in the intercommunal clashes in 1963-64 and 1967 with the losses suffered by Greek Cypriots as a result of the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974.

Richard Patrick writes that in the 1963-64 clashes ‘approximately 350 Turk-Cypriots [and] about 200 Greek-Cypriots and mainland Greek [soldiers] were killed’.

Patrick also states that in this period 20,000 Turkish Cypriots were displaced, mostly from mixed villages, representing one-sixth of the Turkish Cypriot population. They fled, Patrick says, as a result of: Greek Cypriot action; fear that a Turkish invasion, regarded as imminent, would make Turkish Cypriots vulnerable to Greek reprisals; and deliberate self-isolation at the instigation of the Turkish Cypriot leadership, which wanted Turkish Cypriots to separate themselves from Greek Cypriots and gather in (armed) enclaves in preparation for partition.

In the 1967 fighting, in Kophinou/Agios Theodoros, anti-Greek British writer Nancy Crawshaw, says 27 Turks and two Greeks were killed. This fighting stopped when Turkey threatened to invade the island and only held off after US pressure and the Greek junta withdrew a contingent of 10,000 Greek soldiers from the island.

The 1967 crisis proved to the Greek Cypriot leadership that Turkey was serious about invading the island, that the Greek junta would be powerless or unwilling to stop an invasion, and that a less belligerent approach to Turkish Cypriot terrorism was necessary. As such, between 1967 and 1974, there was a significant improvement in relations between Greeks and Turks on the island, with 1,300 Turkish Cypriots returning to homes abandoned in 1963 and more preparing to do so.

As for the consequences of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974: 4,000 Greek Cypriots were killed, 1,619 were abducted, constituting the missing, who it now transpires were massacred, taking Greek losses close to 6,000.

Some 200,000 Greek Cypriots – 40 percent of the island’s Greek population – were forced from their homes and made refugees. More than 1,000 Greek women, of all ages, were raped, often gang-raped.

As for Turkish Cypriot losses in 1974, these are harder to determine, but it is estimated that 788 terrorists were killed, and in the most notable massacres of civilians around Maratha, Santalaris and Tochni, some 180 Turks lost their lives. Five hundred Turkish Cypriots are regarded as missing from 1963, 1967 and 1974, though this number includes those killed in the aforementioned massacres. Rape of Turkish Cypriot women was isolated. Turkish Cypriot journalist Sevgul Uludag in her book on massacres and mass graves in Cyprus, mentions one case of rape against a Turkish Cypriot woman. Forty thousand Turkish Cypriots – one-third of their population – moved to the north of the island after 1974; but this was at the behest of Turkey, which now wanted to consolidate the Turkish Cypriot puppet state it was planning to establish in the occupied areas.

Equating Greek and Turkish nationalism
The goal of Greek nationalism on the island – enosis – was aimed at ending British colonial rule and not at the Turkish Cypriots. Had enosis been achieved, there is no reason to believe that the Turkish Cypriots would have had to endure violent repercussions

On the other hand, the goal of Turkish nationalism on the island – taksim/partition – was predicated not only on the ethnic cleansing of Greek Cypriots from the north of the island but the movement of Turkish Cypriots living in southern and western Cyprus the other way. Turkish nationalists knew this kind of ethnic cleansing could only take place through the fomentation of ethnic strife and the ultimate intervention of Turkey. As such, ethnic violence was initiated, encouraged and, indeed, desired, by the Turkish Cypriot nationalist leadership.

Imported nationalism
Greek nationalism was not imposed on Cypriots or imported from outside.

Nostos has written about the significant contribution of Cyprus to the Greek War of Independence in 1821, the 1,000 volunteers who fought for Greek liberty, particularly at the siege of Athens. Indeed, since 1821, large numbers of Cypriot volunteers have fought in every single campaign waged by the ethnos. Also worth mentioning is Ioannis Karatzas from Nicosia, an associate of Rhigas Pheraios – the proto-martyr of the Greek revolution. Karatzas was executed with Pheraios by the Turks in 1798. All of which proves that Greek Cypriots helped shape the revival of Greek national consciousness as much as having been shaped by it.


Hermes said...

Brilliant post. The attempt to make the sufferings of Greeks and Turks equidistant is completely false and counterproductive to a long lasting solution.

Nationalism is blamed for everything today but many people forget it was British nationalism which helped to stave off the Nazi advance in 1941 and ultimately rid the continent of these criminals. Likewise it was Greek Cypriot nationalism which helped to rid Cyprus of the British criminals. Nationalism, like almost any human endeavour, is a two edged sword. It can be a force for good and bad.

john akritas said...

Here are a couple more things that crossed my mind.
Another problem with the 'both sides suffered' argument is that it asks us – Greeks – to care about the travails of the other – the Turks – and demands we feel guilty if we're not interested in what happened to them. But why should we have to care about what happened to the Turks? Similarly, the Skopjans are making a big song and dance about how they were thrown out of Greece after WW2, and I'm sure this was a terrible experience for them; but the truth is Greece is a better place without them. And, sure, in Cyprus some of our boys engaged in excesses, but who are we to judge what people do to the enemy in a state of patriotic fervour – so long as the final outcome of their actions is desirable. Are we really going to condemn Kolokotronis for the massacre of Turks in the Peloponnese?

Hermes said...

The "equidistant argument" is peddled by the slimey English to abrogate themselves from any responsibility and then create the environment for further interference. Their thinking goes something like this: "those stupid temperamental dagos could not control themselves, they created the mess; therefore, we should come in with our [silly] Union Jack and show them how to govern". They plant those seeds in Cypriot minds, supported by the equally sleazy Americans and caravan of NGO's, to pacify the natural instincts of the islanders to be with their ethnos, so they can maintain their control over what is an invaluable asset. The Guardian (sadly Joe Strummer died with this useless paper on his lap) and certain housewives conveniently forget to allude to this bit of British nationalism because "nationalism is only something the less developed peoples get seduced by". The whole stance stinks [of cheap English beer].

Our boys may have engaged in isolated excesses but they were not systematically deployed by the state unlike the Turks. The fact that Turks dishonoured so many beautiful Greek women [empirically some of the most attractive women come from Cyprus] is cause for eternal calls for revenge.

The Skopjans are a dismal people. They gladly joined the Nazis for booty [see Diatribe]. And when about 20 of them were deported after the war for betrayal to the Greek state they cry foul. Tough. Let the No Name State collapse under the weight of Albanian aggression. Then let's ask them if they preferred billions in aid, investment and importation of Greek culture to Albanian misery.

On another note, I was thinking about the "Tibetan" protesters (obviously many of the protesters are NGO agents). Little do they know they are being appropriated by Western governments in their looming showdown over resources with China. Their shallow position is betrayed by how quiet they are when it comes to protesting about the Uigar Muslims in Western China.

This confirms my position that the Olympics should be permanently returned to the western Peloponese, the only athletes invited are from the Greek city states of Athens, Thessaloniki, Lefkosia, Skopje, Constantinople, London, Paris, Chicago, NY, Sydney, Melbuorne and Toronto, and all athletes compete in the nude.

john akritas said...

What the equidistant argument does is attempt to deprive Greek Cypriots of any right to claim justice. Thus enosis, which was, and is, given Cyprus' history, identity and ethnic composition, a legitimate, just and moral national aspiration, has become equated with the illegitimate, unjust and immoral Turkish national aspiration of partition. The noble and just goal of ending 800 years of foreign colonial rule and uniting the island with Greece has been depicted by those who, as you say, wish to keep Cyprus (and by extension Greece) under their thumb, as an expression of extremism and fanaticism.

This alleged lapse into extremism and fanaticism is now used against us to deprive us of our right to protest about the Turkish invasion and occupation. This is why I object so much to the tone of Chrisafis' article; because by saying Greeks are as guilty as Turks of atrocities in Cyprus, she's saying in effect we are not entitled to pursue or demand a just end to the occupation and that we should be grateful for small mercies, like the Annan plan. She is, as you say, parroting the arguments of the malicious foreign powers involved in Cyprus.

As for the attractiveness of Cypriot women, I'm not sure. I've heard this joke: 'Cypriot women are as chaste as they are ugly.' But then I have the privilege of coming from a very good looking family, so it would be invidious of me to pass judgement on the rest of the tribe. In my experience, the best looking Greek women I've noticed have been in Crete, Samos and Serres. But now we're entering the realm of personal taste.

DK's piece on the no-name state is very good, as usual. Sometimes he is quite the multiculturalist, at other times the rabid Greek nationalist. Naturally, I prefer the latter. I guess, down under, where multiculturalism is official state ideology, you have to pay lip service to it in order to get along and enjoy a peaceful life. As long as he doesn't advocate 'mateship', then there's no problem.

I feel sorry for the Tibetans, but support the Chinese wholeheartedly in their war against Turkish/Uighur terrorism in Xinjiang.

I have long advocated that the Olympics should return to Olympia and be reinstated as a pan-hellenic event only, in which barbarians are not allowed to participate. The Olympics are about the unity of one race, our race, the Hellenic race, not all races. The so-called modern Olympic movement takes despicable liberties with our culture.

Anonymous said...


This is a gem of a post and has really made me think.

I'm halfway through the Anderson article and I hope to post a comment in this box soon.