Thursday, 28 August 2008

Anorthosis wins Champions League

Anorthosis – the refugee team from Famagusta – has won the Champions League. It beat Olympiakos 3-1 on aggregate (3-0 in Larnaca two weeks ago, 0-1 in Piraeus last night – see videos above) and qualified for the group stages of the tournament, which, according to Anorthosis’ Georgian coach Timuri Ketsbaia, is an achievement so massive for the small Cypriot club that it is the equivalent of winning European football’s premier club competition.

Of course, qualifying for the Champions League group stages is only half the story. The other half is that Anorthosis beat Olympiakos – the champions of Greece, the biggest club in Greece – to get there. The hubristic kalamarades thought Anorthosis would be a pushover, but the Greeks from Cyprus, from occupied Cyprus, showed the Greeks from Piraeus that you have to earn your victories and not take them for granted.

Olympiakos’ supporters disgraced themselves by attacking the Anorthosis’ fans and team in Athens, prompting the Anorthosis president Andreas Panteli to say Anorthosis’ reception in Athens was worse than that faced in Turkey three years ago when Anorthosis beat Trapzonspor in second round Champions League qualifying.

But worse than the mindless hooliganism of Olympiakos’ fans was the patronising and ignorant tone of some Greek journalists who insisted on distinguishing Olympiakos as a Greek (Elliniki) and Anorthosis as a Cypriot (Kypriaki) team, as if Anorthosis weren’t a Greek team, as if Anorthosis play in blue and white for the hell of it and as if the fact that the Greek flag is everywhere at Anorthosis’ matches is coincidence. Let’s be clear: Anorthosis was formed in 1911 as a cultural and political organisation aimed at promoting and mobilising Hellenism in the Famagusta region of Cyprus and took its name from Eleftherios Venizelos’ rallying cry of Anorthosis (Regeneration) as he prepared Greece for the realisation of the Great Idea.

Anorthosis collected funds and sent volunteers to the Balkan and Asia Minor wars and, naturally, during the EOKA period 1955-59, the club played a leading role. EOKA stalwarts Kyriakos Matsis, Grigoris Afxentiou, Antonis Papadopoulous, Pavlos Pavlakis and Panagiotis Toumazos were all members of Anorthosis; and in 1958 the English blew up Anorthosis headquarters in Famagusta as punishment for the club’s EOKA connections.

All in all, you cannot get a more Greek club than Anorthosis, and the fact that the kalamarades failed to acknowledge this by referring only to Olympiakos as an Elliniki omada (Greek team) is insulting. Both Anorthosis and Olympiakos are Greek teams and the correct distinction is between a Cypriot and a Helladic team.

Anyway, I’d like to think that Anorthosis' victory against Olympiakos is not just a sporting victory, but also a sign that Hellenism at the periphery is capable and can surpass Hellenism at the centre. Hellenism at the centre, as we all know, is failing. I even heard a report on British radio recently – which I have not been able to verify – that in Kerkyra (Corfu) locals are demanding more autonomy for their island, more control over the way their taxes are spent, tired of misgovernment from Athens. I’ve also seen two reports on Greek TV – on ERT and Alpha – regarding the reconstruction in the Peloponnese after last year’s fires. Both reports pointed out that while reconstruction in those areas under Greek government supervision were mired in bureaucracy and going slowly, renewal of the village the Cypriot government is taking care of – Artemida – has seen rapid progress.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

The revenge of the slave class

‘And now we should not conceal from ourselves what lies hidden in the womb of this Socratic culture! An optimism that thinks itself all powerful! Well, people should not be surprised when the fruits of this optimism ripen, when a society that has been thoroughly leavened with this kind of culture, right down to the lowest levels, gradually trembles with an extravagant turmoil of desires, when the belief in earthly happiness for everyone and in the possibility of such a universal knowledge culture, gradually changes into the threatening demand for such an Alexandrian utopia and into the plea for a Euripidean deus ex machina!

‘People should take note: Alexandrian culture requires a slave class in order to be able to exist over time, but with its optimistic view of existence, it denies the necessity for such a class and thus, when the effect of its beautiful words of seduction and reassurance about the “dignity of human beings” and the “dignity of work” has worn off, it gradually moves towards a horrific destruction. There is nothing more frightening than a barbarian slave class which has learned to think of its existence as an injustice and is preparing to take revenge, not only for itself, but for all generations.’

Monday, 18 August 2008

'We are all Fyromians now'

Because Greece has shown weakness over Macedonia, it has exposed itself to ridiculous provocations and humiliations from the Fyromians who have not let up with their bizarre claims regarding an oppressed 'Macedonian' minority in Greece, a 'Macedonian' Orthodox Church, 'Aegean Macedonian' refugees and so on.

Notwithstanding the psychotic nature of Fyromian behaviour, which reveals a dangerous obsession with Greece bearing all the hallmarks of paranoia and persecution complex, the mad Fyromians have their supporters. Thus, not only have the Turks (unsurprisingly) offered the Fyromian maniacs succour, but they have also been given it by the Americans. Smarting over Russia's humiliation of their Georgian protégés and the threat to their plans to establish US-Turkish hegemony in the Caucasus, the Americans are now going to turn their attention to unfinished business in the Balkans, where they also aspire to assert their authority, alongside the Turks and using the Bosniaks, Albanians and Fyromians as their doormats.

Already, US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, from Alabama – a long way from the Balkans – said last week that the dispute between Athens and Skopje 'should not get in the way of the admission of Macedonia [sic] to NATO'. This deliberate and provocative reference to Fyromia as 'Macedonia' and clear expression of support for Fyromia in its claims against Greece revealed Washington's contempt for Greek sensitivities – 'the particular pleasure the US has taken in siding with Skopje on the Macedonia issue' – and its determination to deepen its presence in the Balkans as a means to counter Russia's victory in the Caucasus.

Elaborating on the theme of America using the Balkans to reverse defeat in the Caucasus, Edward P. Joseph, in the International Herald Tribune, drew direct parallels between the Fyromian and Georgian cases, accused Greece of forming an unholy alliance with Russia and Serbia, and argued that Greek national interests and objections to Fyromian nationalism must be overridden and Fyromia admitted to NATO as the 'Republic of Macedonia'.

Now, since Greece is not any time soon going to capitulate to the Fyromians and will thus find itself in the position of frustrating American goals in the Balkans, Greece should expect increasing hostility from Washington – not only backing for the Fyromians, but also for the Muslims in Thrace and Turks in the Aegean and Cyprus – especially if John McCain becomes president, since he seems to have bought into Russophobia and anti-Greek US strategic thinking in the Balkans hook, line and sinker. Last week, explaining to bewildered supporters in Pennsylvania (see video above) why Georgia – that's Georgia in the Caucasus, not Georgia, where all the peanuts come from – matters, McCain declared 'we are all Georgians now'. I wonder how soon it'll be before he's telling them 'we are all Fyromians now'.

It's also worth pointing out that McCain's top foreign policy adviser Randy Scheunemann has for the last decade been Fyromia's (and Georgia's) leading Washington lobbyist.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Χώσου στην άμμο Αμμόχωστος

People who don’t know anything about Cyprus, idiots or the malicious suggest that the island’s political problem is one of competing ethnic groups who haven’t found the maturity or right level of civilisation to reject primitive nationalism to enable them to learn to live together.

Others, like myself, who don’t have an ideological axe to grind and are only interested in discovering the truth of a conflict and applying practical measures to resolve it, reject this silly and patronising analysis of the Cyprus problem and insist that the issues involved are, overwhelmingly, connected to invasion and occupation.

Indeed, today marks the anniversary of the second phase of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, when the Turks broke out of the Kyrenia bridgehead they’d established on 20 July and went on to seize the areas of Morphou, Famagusta, the Mesaoria and Karpasia, clearing out the Greek population and making 200,000 people refugees.

During this sombre commemorative period, the leaders of Cyprus’ occupied towns and villages organise protest marches, concerts, hand in resolutions to the powerful and make speeches vowing that the refugees will never give up the fight to return to their homes.

Yesterday, Morphou municipal council in exile handed in its resolution to the embassies of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and the European Commission representative in Cyprus demanding ‘the return of all refugees to their homes, the withdrawal of all Turkish troops from Cyprus’ occupied northern areas, respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms, the safeguard of the independence, the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus’, and so on.

But in this article in yesterday’s Turkish Daily News – mouthpiece for the Turk foreign ministry – it is stated that Turk PM Recip Tayyip Erdogan has made it clear that Morphou, which even the despicable Annan plan said would be given back to its lawful Greek inhabitants, ‘would never be returned to Greek Cypriot control’.

The determination of the Turks to hold on to Morphou – an exclusively Greek town of 7,000 before the ethnic cleansing of 1974, whose name refers to the goddess of beauty (Aphrodite) – θεά Μορφώ – a favourite deity of the town’s Spartan and Laconian founders – is based on the legendary fertility of the Morphou plain, with its citrus orchards, melon patches and strawberry fields, which Turkey wants to keep for the 12,000 Turkish settlers dumped in the town, and on the fact that the Turkish occupation authorities, after 34 years of neglect, have recently begun to heavily invest in infrastructural projects in the area; including a road linking Morphou to occupied Nicosia; the building of an undersea pipeline linking Turkey to Morphou scheduled to begin next year from which water for all of occupied Cyprus will be distributed; and the opening in 2005 by Turkey's Middle East Technical University of a Morphou-based ‘Northern Cyprus Campus’, which by 2012, is expected to enroll 3,500 students from Turkey and the Middle East.

Now, what all this reveals is the true nature of the Turkish occupation of Cyprus and how difficult it will be to reverse its consequences. It also shows that what has happened and what will happen to Morphou has got nothing to do with relations, good or bad, between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, tolerance of the other’s culture and a willingness or otherwise to share power, and everything to do with the harsh reality of invasion, ethnic cleansing, occupation, settlers and so on. Turkish settlers have taken over Morphou, Turkey is investing in Morphou, Turkey will decide the fate of the town in any Cyprus solution. So much for Christofias’ ‘Cyprus solution made by and for Cypriots’. And so much for those who believe that whatever deal Christofias and Talat – the leader of the occupation regime in northern Cyprus – come up with, if, indeed, they do come up with a deal, it will resolve all the conflicts, injustices and iniquities on the island and pave the way for peaceful coexistence between the island’s Greeks and the Turkish minority.

■ In Radio Akritas, I’ve made available three songs from the album Εις γην εναλίαν Κύπρον, music by Michalis Christodoulides, sung by Giorgos Dalaras. The songs are:
1. Λογαριάσατε Λάθος;
2. Είμαστε Έλληνες, 1974; and
3. Αμμόχωστος.

Θαλασσινός ο κόρφος σου κι ανθοί στις αμασχάλες
κι ολόδροση πώς μύριζες στις πρώτες τις ψιχάλες
πόλη που παίζαμε παιδιά μες την πλατιά ποδιά σου
με ψάρια και λεμονανθούς χαμήλωσ' τη ματιά σου

Τις θύρες σου να κλείσεις θες και να μας περιμένεις
και μυρωδιές και ομορφιές τον ξένο να μη ραίνεις
σφάλιξε κλείσε δίπλωσε παράπονο στα χείλη
χώσου στην άμμο Αμμόχωστος σαν σπάνιο κοχύλι

Και μεις πουλιά που διώξαν μας τον Αύγουστο οι εχθροί σου
να ξέρεις θα γυρίσουμε πιστοί στην άνοιξή σου

Σφάλιξε κλείσε δίπλωσε παράπονο στα χείλη
χώσου στην άμμο Αμμόχωστος σαν σπάνιο κοχύλι
θαλασσινός ο κόρφος σου κι ανθοί στις αμασχάλες
κι ολόδροση πώς μύριζες στις πρώτες τις ψιχάλες

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Russia saves the world

In these photos, flak-vested Turko-American stooge Mikhail Saakashvili – educated at Columbia Law School and The George Washington University Law School and former employee at the New York law firm of Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler – having decided to take his previously honourable country to war with Russia – takes cover as a Russian helicopter flies overhead in the Georgian town of Gori.

Saakashvili allocated seventy per cent of the Georgian state budget to defence and brought in the Turks and Americans to train the Georgian army, which he thought could take on the Russians for long enough before 'Western' diplomatic and military pressure could be exerted on the Russians to let him get away with his plans for reincorporating Abkhazia and South Ossetia into Georgia.

But Mikhail: where are your friends the Turks and Americans now? And what's happened to your vision of Turko-American-Georgian hegemony in the Caucasus?

I hope that other cretin Gruevski in Skopje who's got similar fantasies of sucking up to the Turks and Americans, subordinating his 'country' to US-Turkish interests in the expectation that they'll back his aspirations against Macedonia, will get the message: choose your friends carefully, or you too could find yourself staring into the abyss.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Τhe Georgian example

Here's how it works:

Tinpot nationalist dictator of a country not fit to join the EU or NATO sucks up to the superpower by offering small contingent of soldiers in pursuit of said superpower's imperial adventures. Tinpot nationalist dictator – who happens to have been educated by the superpower – tries to punch above his weight against neighbours in pursuit of nationalist objectives, provokes a spat, then goes on CNN, saying this is not about 'us', it's about the values of the superpower – 'democracy' and 'free enterprise' – and calls in credit with superpower and expects superpower to come to his aid in nationalist war.

For Georgia, read Skopje; for Mikhail Saakashvili, read Nikola Gruevski.