Monday, 3 November 2008

Selling out Cypriot Hellenism


An anonymous commenter writes: 'Greeks of England, Cyprus is being sold out and you should be aware because soon you'll have to go down to Cyprus for a new "NO".'

This is an increasingly prominent point of view and is a reference, I suppose, to the ongoing talks process between Cyprus' president Dimitris Christofias and leader of the Turkish occupation regime on the island Mehmet Ali Talat; and maybe even to recent controversies on Cyprus following attempts by Cyprus' communist-led government to dehellenise the island by proposing reforms to schoolbooks to reduce emphasis on Cyprus' links to Greece and reinterpret Cyprus' history so that it doesn't read like a history of struggle to serve and defend Hellenism – for this is nationalist and chauvinist – but is revealed – in true Stalinist style – as a common narrative of shared struggles between Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

Well, I haven't said much about the talks so far because I don't believe there's any evidence to suggest that they're headed anywhere. In fact, even though Christofias and Talat have been meeting, on and off, for two months now, they are still in the throes of discussing what was supposed to be one of the least contentious issues – governance – during which Turkish demands have been so outlandish – going even beyond those Greek Cypriots rejected in the Annan Plan in 2004 – that it appears the Turks have no real intention of reaching a settlement and are either:
1. Going through the motions to create a favourable international impression;
2. Being so extreme in order to prompt the Greek side to walk out of the negotiations, allowing the Turks to declare that the differences are irreconcilable on Cyprus and alternatives to reunification – for example, Kosovo-style recognition of the occupation regime – must be considered; or
3. Being so intransigent in the expectation that the UN will once again be forced to mediate, to 'bridge the differences', and put forward another Annan-style plan, halfway between the Turkish maximalist and the Greek minimalist positions.

Currently, then, in terms of the talks, I don't feel Cyprus is being 'sold out', but just going through the same, old farcical negotiations process it's being going through since 1974.

As for Cyprus' communist government 'selling out' Cyprus' Greek history and culture; firstly, AKEL has never made any secret of its belief that the Cyprus problem is one of 'nationalism' and 'chauvinism' and that these two 'evils' must be eradicated from the island, and yet Christofias was elected with the backing of two of the more nationalist parties on the island – socialist EDEK and (Tassos Papadopoulos') DIKO, both of which have ministers in the government. So, who is to blame for the attempts to rewrite history and introduce communist ideology to Cypriot schools and at whom should we be directing our indignation and contempt? Not AKEL – which is simply behaving according to type – but the so-called patriots and stalwarts of Hellenism in DIKO and EDEK. And, secondly, any AKEL attempts to strip away Cyprus' Hellenic identity – an ambition the communists, strangely enough, have always shared with the British colonial authorities – and fill Cypriot children's heads with communist propaganda are laughable and won't succeed even if they keep on trying for another thousand years.

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