Thursday, 30 July 2009

Kissinger against the Greeks… except Karamanlis

Below is another excerpt from confidential conversations now available in the archives of President Gerald Ford. (See also my previous post). This time the conversation is from 20 February 1975 and involves Ford, his secretary of state Henry Kissinger and other members of Ford's national security team briefing Congressional leaders on, among other things, recent developments in the Middle East, relations with the Soviet Union, the state of Greece and the Cyprus issue following the Turkish invasion of the island. In relation to Greece and Cyprus, Kissinger is particularly anxious that: prime minister Konstantinos Karamanlis – who Kissinger describes as 'a great leader' who 'wants to put Cyprus behind him' – is supported as a bulwark against the left in Greece and Makarios in Cyprus – who Kissinger describes as an agent of 'chaos'; and that the arms embargo imposed by Congress on Turkey after the invasion of Cyprus is lifted, otherwise, according to Kissinger, Turkey will be driven into the arms of radical Middle Eastern states and Israel's security jeopardised, something he thinks should be stressed to the Jewish-American lobby, which could then be used to counter Greek arguments in Congress for cutting aid to Turkey. Read the whole document here.

Kissinger: Makarios is the only party who is interested in continued chaos. Cyprus is a millstone to the Greeks…

Scott: What will the Turks do?

Kissinger: They will sever, step-by-step, their contact with us, and get more active in Middle East affairs. They will soon be running out of spare parts.

McFall: Won't Karamanlis say something privately to the Greek leaders here?

Kissinger: He is a great leader. He is flanked by [Andreas] Papandreou and Makarios. He wants a settlement but has to watch his flanks…

Albert: Wouldn't Turkey handicap operations like in the last [Arab-Israeli] war?

Kissinger: Yes. We have installations there which are irreplaceable. And if there is another Israeli-Syrian war and the Soviet Union behaves more intransigently, a hostile Turkey would be very dangerous. The Clerides-Denktash talks are now suspended. Even if we reversed the situation today, it would take time. The chief loser is Karamanlis, who wants to put it behind him, to build Greek democracy. He doesn't want Cyprus to be an issue in Greek domestic politics.

McFall: Can't Karamanlis say that?

Kissinger: No…

Rhodes: What is [Archbishop of North America] Iakovos' role? He just gave an anti-American speech. I think they are under Makarios.

Scott: It looks to me like the Jewish interests are being imperiled by Greek interests.

Kissinger: No question about it.

Cederberg: Papandreou is the problem. He is not for Karamanlis. He wants to get back in Greece.

Kissinger: You are absolutely right. Papandreou and Makarios profit by chaos. There is now coup talk in Greece.

Byrd: Can the Jewish community help?

Kissinger: My impression is that [Congressman Ben] Rosenthal is trapped. He recognizes his problem but he doesn't know how to get off it.

Burton: Ben just has to be convinced on the merits…

Byrd: I think it is time that the Jewish community became visible in this.

Monday, 27 July 2009

How Karamanlis' 'moderation' did for Cyprus

I was reading on the Ινφογνώμων Πολιτικά website, this confidential conversation that took place on 29 May 1975 between Greece's then prime minister Konstantinos Karamanlis and US president Gerald Ford and his secretary of state Henry Kissinger. The conversation took place at the US embassy in Brussels and was dug up by the Washington-based Cypriot journalist Michalis Ignatiou. Among other things, the conversation deals with the restoration of democracy in Greece and Greek-Turkish relations in the light of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus and Turkish aggression in the Aegean. It is deeply embarrassing to read the egomaniacal Karamanlis praise himself for his role in establishing democracy in Greece after the fall of the junta, explain away his surrender of Cyprus and then plead – like the flunky he was – with the Americans to restrain the Turks, jubilant with their victory in Cyprus and now threatening Greece on all fronts. You can almost hear Ford and Kissinger laughing inside at Karamanlis' bizarre display of vainglory and sycophancy.

Anyway, below is an excerpt of the conversation that I've translated from Ignatiou's Greek translation back into English. The original English transcript of the conversation was available in the Ford archives, but for 'national security' reasons was withdrawn in 2004. In the extract, Karamanlis describes the events, as he experienced them, as they unfolded in Cyprus the previous year. It is a staggering statement of narcissism, cowardice and misjudgement dressed up as 'moderation'. As well as Karamanlis' statement being interesting from a historical point of view, it's also noteworthy because it reeks of the impotence and fear that continues to inform contemporary Greek responses to Turkish aggression. Karamanlis is, of course, bewilderingly and tellingly, something of a revered figure among conservatives in Greece.

Karamanlis [addressing Ford and Kissinger]: Permit me to begin by speaking about recent history. Before I returned to power, there was the junta's coup in Cyprus. Makarios was overthrown. The Turks argued that they acted [in Cyprus] as a guarantor power, something that granted them, they said, the right to restore the legitimate government and protect the Turkish Cypriot population. Their guarantor status explicitly refers to any action being aimed at the restoration of legitimacy in Cyprus and the upholding of the island's territorial integrity. Legality was restored three days after the invasion [23 July]. I returned [from exile in Paris] and took over the government of Greece and Clerides did the same in Cyprus. Turkey had fulfilled its aims as a guarantor. But they are still there. A few weeks after [legality in Greece and Cyprus were restored], Turkey seized 40% of the island.

I remember those days very well, because your secretary of state [i.e. Kissinger] woke me at four in the morning. There was no justification for the second Turkish invasion. No one comes up with strategic plans overnight. Turkey's military operation must have been in the planning for a long time. The occupation of 40% of the island occurred on the basis of a military plan with the codename ATTILA. This indicates premeditation. This move [the second phase of the invasion] created 250,000 refugees. You might say that this is not a large amount; but the population of the island is only half a million. Also, the 40% they seized is the most prosperous and productive part of the island.

On 14 August [the start of the second phase of the invasion], I encountered uproar in the army and among the Greek people. I went to the headquarters of the armed forces and they demanded action. There was pressure for a declaration of war. It was natural that everyone should feel they'd been made fools of. But I decided to choose the path of unpopularity, to tell the people to stay calm and to trust me. I told them we would receive help from our friends to find a solution.

In that dramatic moment, I had three choices. First, to go to war. Second, to resign and again withdraw from political life; and, third, to withdraw [Greece] from the military wing of NATO. I went for the third choice, which I considered to be the least painful and damaging. That is the history of Cyprus. It is difficult to prove something that is self-evident, but the Turks made a mistake. The Greeks showed moderation, despite all that happened to them. They are still showing moderation.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Sweden toes the Turkish line

One of the major problems with the European Union is that it allows utterly insignificant and silly countries positions of influence, power and authority which they would in no way merit on their own, outside of the 27-member club. One such irrelevant and ridiculous country is Sweden, whose contribution to culture and civilisation down the centuries has been insignificant to the point of meaninglessness. I can only think of two Swedes – Ingmar Bergman and August Strindberg – who in any way deserve our intellectual attention or appreciation and, generally, when one thinks of Sweden one thinks of repressed, suicidal mediocrity.

Why am I mentioning Sweden? Because in the last five years Sweden has emerged as the leading advocate for Turkish membership of the EU and, as a consequence of this, one of Cyprus and Hellenism's staunchest adversaries. The reasons for Sweden's Turkophilia remain obscure to me. There have been suggestions (see
this article, in Greek) that Sweden's foreign minister since 2006, Carl Bildt, has significant personal economic interests in Turkey and that he is compromised by being a personal friend and devoted acolyte of George Soros – the billionaire financier who has huge investments in Turkey and is a strong advocate of that country's EU membership; but it is also a fact that the previous Swedish government was also outspokenly pro-Turkish.

Anyway, Sweden – which, as I said, is a silly, insignificant country – now holds the rotating presidency of the EU, and in questions aimed at Bildt yesterday by members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament regarding the foreign policy priorities of the Swedish presidency, the subject of Cyprus came up. Asked by a French MEP how he viewed Turkish celebrations commemorating the invasion and occupation of an EU member-state, Bildt replied: 'The events in Cyprus have to be placed in their proper context. The Turkish intervention [sic] in Cyprus was the result of the behaviour of the Greek junta.'

No Turk could have given a better answer, right down to the use of the word 'intervention' rather than invasion.

Naturally, the government in Nicosia was outraged by the Swede's remarks – which also included a rebuke to Greek Cypriots for rejecting the Annan plan in 2004 – and has formally protested to Sweden and the EU, pointing out that in no way could the junta's coup against President Makarios justify the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, with its massacres, rapes, ethnic cleansing, settlers, cultural genocide, or excuse the fact that 35 years after the Athens-inspired putsch, a 40,000-strong Turkish occupation force remains on the island.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

The roots of US support for a Turkish invasion of Cyprus

I want to return to the events in Cyprus in 1963-4, i.e. the period during which President Makarios proposed 13 amendments to the dysfunctional 1960 constitution; the intercommunal fighting that followed; the Acheson plans; and Turkey’s threat to invade the island.

Regarding the threat of Turkish invasion, this was prevented by American disapproval of any such action for fear it might provoke an all-out war between Greece and Turkey; by Turkey's concern that the Soviet Union would intervene on behalf of Cyprus; and by Turkish anxieties that its armed forces were ill-prepared for an amphibious assault on Cyprus and that any such operation could end in disaster.

We note, therefore, that in the early-mid 1960s, mostly because of limits placed on Greece and Turkey by a mutual dependence on America and subordination to NATO interests, there existed a reasonable balance of power between Greece and Turkey. Relations between Greece and Turkey were not as characterised, as they are today, by Turkish belligerence and Greek passivity.

What changed, therefore, between 1964 and 1974, to allow Turkey to escape these constraints and overcome its reservations and invade and partition Cyprus?

1. Turkey began to doubt the value of subordinating to America and NATO its foreign and defence interests and started to develop capabilities, relations and a psychology that would allow it to act independently.

2. Although there was a similar movement in Greece demanding that the country release itself from dependence on America, that movement was curtailed, first by the palace coup against the Centre Union government of Giorgios Papandreou (see my post here); and, then, by the colonels' coup in 1967, which initiated a regime utterly subordinate to America.

3. After the failure of former US secretary of state Dean Acheson to secure the partition of Cyprus between Greece and Turkey in 1964, American hostility to Cyprus’ legitimate head of state, President Makarios – who the Americans regarded as not sufficiently anti-communist and personally responsible for obstructing a resolution of the Cyprus problem in accordance with either of the two so-called Acheson plans – intensified to the point of hysteria and hatred and America began to connive at ways to impose the first Acheson plan on Cyprus by force, by persuading Greece to neutralise Makarios and by actively encouraging Turkey to prepare for an invasion of the island.

Describing this gradual change in American policy – from trying to restrain Turkey in Cyprus to actively supporting a Turkish invasion – Turkish writer Nasuh Uslu in his book The Cyprus question as an issue of Turkish foreign policy and Turkish-American relations, 1959-2003, says that after, at US-mediated talks in Geneva in August 1964, both Greece and Turkey rejected the second Acheson plan for the partition of Cyprus:

'Acheson returned to Washington and met [in September] with President Johnson and other top administration officials to discuss a way out of the deadlock… Acheson stated that [the main reasons] a stalemate was reached… were Papandreou's weakness and Makarios' strength. Each passing day, Makarios was becoming stronger while the Turks were becoming impatient. If the situation were allowed to continue in this direction, a violent, uncontrolled Turkish invasion of the island would be inevitable. Acheson and [US undersecretary of state George] Ball argued that the only solution to the problem was the fait accompli of a controlled Turkish invasion of the island. In their plan, the Turks would seize the part of Cyprus which they would have received under the first Acheson plan and then the Greeks and Greek Cypriots would instantly proclaim the unification of the rest of Cyprus with Greece.

'In fact (Uslu writes), Acheson had raised the issue with the Turks during the Geneva talks and had received a positive response. On 4 August 1964 Acheson told the Turkish delegation that he did not advise them to resort to military force but if they did so, America would not oppose them. After the Turks rejected the second Acheson plan, Acheson told the Turkish representatives at Geneva: "I am privately and friendly telling you: Can you invade the part of Cyprus which was reserved for you without causing too much bloodshed? If you can do so, you can invade it. The American Sixth Fleet does not obstruct your way, on the contrary it protects you." Turkish commander General Turgut Sunalp took Acheson's proposal to [prime minister Ismet] Inonu the next day. Inonu rejected it by saying that he could not initiate such an adventure without the official approval of the American administration.

'In the meeting of American officials in September 1964, Acheson and Ball told Johnson that the Turks liked their scheme and all that was required to put the plan into motion was a signal from Washington. In order to be sure that he understood the plan of Ball and Acheson, President Johnson summarised the scheme and said that they believed that a resort to force was inevitable and that the only question was "whether it should be messy and destructive or controlled and eventually productive, in accordance with a plan". Acheson agreed that this was a fair summary. Initially, Johnson seemed interested in Acheson's proposal but in the end he rejected it. The war [in Vietnam] was already a major trouble for him [and] he could not consent to the outbreak of another one. He thought that [any] Turkish invasion might not be as clean as Acheson and Ball expected and that it might escalate into a major war…

'American officials were of the opinion that the Greek side was primarily responsible for the failure of the Geneva talks. A few months later Dean Acheson wrote to the American ambassador to Egypt: "We came close to an understanding which might have cropped Archbishop [Makarios'] whiskers and solved the idiotic problem of Cyprus… Our weakness was Papandreou's weakness, a garrulous, senile wind bag without power of decision or resolution. He gave away our plans at critical moments to Makarios, who undermined him with the Greek press and political left. A little money, which we had, the Greek 7th Division in Cyprus, which the Greeks had, and some sense of purpose in Athens, which did not exist, might have permitted a different result. The Turks could not have been more willing to co-operate".'

ADDENDUM: (1) In saying there was a balance of power between Greece and Turkey in the early-mid 1960s, this should not imply that Greece was militarily or diplomatically strong at the time, only that its weakness and dependence on America was well matched by Turkey's.

(2) It is clear that despite the US's failure in this period – 1963-4 – to close down the Cyprus problem by way of partition, America did not abandon its optimum solution for Cyprus, or the method by which it expected to bring about the death of the Republic of Cyprus, i.e. the overthrow of Makarios followed by Turkish invasion. We know this is the case because this is precisely what happened in Cyprus in 1974, on 15 July (the coup against Makarios) and 20 July (the Turkish invasion). What had changed between 1964 and 1974, then, was American diplomacy's ability to persuade Athens (ruled in 1974 by a slavishly pro-American junta) to act against Makarios and its willingness to give Turkey the assurance it had wanted in 1964, that any military adventure it embarked on in Cyprus would enjoy US support.

Monday, 20 July 2009

The Turkish invasion: Cyprus’ blackest day

Cyprus has a long, blood-stained history – Jews, Arabs, Franks and Ottomans have all taken their turn at pillage and massacre; but perhaps the blackest day in the island's history was 20 July 1974, when Turkey invaded the island and unleashed a wave of violence that shocks us because of its barbarity and because of the fact that it has not only gone unpunished but barely remarked on. There has been no redemption from the evil that was committed by the Turks that summer 35 years ago, no nemesis. The Turkish invasion provides a sobering lesson in politics and human affairs. There is no natural order, no moral laws or justice, and good, truth and civilisation do not necessarily win out over evil, lies and barbarism.

By now we should all know the story of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. We should know that the Turks had been straining at the leash since Cyprus’ independence (1960) to invade the island and came close to doing so in 1963 and 1967, only to find themselves diplomatically isolated and conscious of their own military unpreparedness. In 1974, however – and having addressed their military shortcomings – they were not only granted the perfect excuse for an invasion – by the Athens junta's coup against President Makarios; but they were also given the support they had been previously lacking and that support, most notably, came from the USA, which not only approved the Turkish invasion but also encouraged it.

Thus on 20 July, the Turkish airforce began bombing Greek positions on Cyprus, hundreds of paratroops were dropped in the area between Nicosia and Kyrenia, where were well-armed Turkish Cypriot enclaves had been long-established, while off the Kyrenia coast 30 Turkish troop ships protected by destroyers disgorged 6,000 men as well as an array of tanks, trucks and armoured vehicles.

Both the junta in Athens and their stooge in Nicosia, Nikos Sampson, were caught by surprise by the Turkish assault. Junta leader Dimitrios Ioannides believed the Americans when they told him there would be no Turkish invasion in response to the 15 July coup against Makarios and he passed this on to Sampson who, rather than use the time he had since seizing power in Cyprus to prepare for a probable Turkish attack, chose instead to settle political scores and put down the resistance to the coup by Cypriot leftists and Makarios’ supporters.

By the time, three days later, when a ceasefire had been agreed, Turkey had landed 30,000 troops on the island and captured Kyrenia, the corridor linking Kyrenia to Nicosia and the Turkish-Cypriot quarter of Nicosia. The junta in Athens and then Sampson in Cyprus fell from power.

In Nicosia, Glafkos Clerides assumed the presidency and constitutional order was restored; ostensibly removing the pretext the Turks gave for the invasion, though the Turks having come this far were now committed to implementing their long-held plan to partition the island and annex northern Cyprus. The Turks used a period of sham negotiations – during which Turkey enjoyed American moral, intelligence and diplomatic support – to reinforce their Kyrenia bridgehead and prepare for the second phase of the invasion, which began on 14 August and resulted in the seizure of Morphou, Karpasia, Ammochostos and the Mesaoria.

Above is a clip above from Attila ’74: the Rape of Cyprus (watch film in its entirety here), in which director Michalis Cacoyiannis describes the first and second phases of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus and its aftermath of refugees, prisoners, enclaved and missing persons; while below is an article (taken from the Lobby for Cyprus webiste) that appeared in the UK daily, The Sun, on 8 August 1974, in which Iain Walker describes the atrocities committed by the Turkish army during the first phase of the invasion.


Sun reporter Iain Walker sends a shock report from Cyprus on the Turkish invaders

'My fiancé and six men were shot dead. The Turkish soldiers laughed at me and then I was raped.'

'The Turkish soldiers cut off my father's hands and legs. Then they shot him while I watched.'

'They shot the men. My friend's wife said "Why should I live without my husband?" A soldier shot her in the head.GREEK CYPRIOT FARMER AGED 51

A HORRIFYING story of atrocities by the Turkish invaders of Cyprus emerged today. It was told by weeping Greek Cypriot villagers rescued by United Nations soldiers.

THEY TOLD of barbaric rape at gunpoint... and threats of instant execution if they struggled.
THEY TOLD of watching their loved ones tortured and shot.

The villagers are from Trimithi, Karmi and Ayios Georhios, three farming communities west of the holiday town of Kyrenia, directly in the path of the Turkish Army.

They had been trapped since the fighting began two weeks ago and were only evacuated to Nicosia by the UN on Saturday. And today at a Nicosia orphanage they told me their tales – simply and without any prompting.

A 20-year old girl in a pretty yellow and white dress sat under a painting of Jesus tending his flock as she described how she was raped.She had been visiting her fiancé who worked in a hotel near Kyrenia when the Turks attacked. For the first 24 hours she sheltered with other villagers in a stable until they were discovered by Turkish soldiers. She then watched as her fiancé and six other men were shot dead in cold blood – only a few minutes after they had been promised that they would not be harmed.

She said: 'After the shooting, a Turkish soldier grabbed me and pulled me into a ditch. I struggled and tried to escape but he pushed me to the ground.

'He tore at my clothes and they were ripped up to my waist. Then he started undressing himself.'

'Another Turkish soldier who was watching us had a nine-month-old baby in his arms and, trying to save myself, I shouted that the baby was mine.

'But they laughed at me and threw the baby to the ground. I was then raped and I fainted soon after.

'When I came to my senses I saw 15 other soldiers standing round watching. The first soldier was taking off my watch and engagement ring. Others were going to rape me – when one of them objected and told them not to be animals.

'I will never forget him for saving me. He was quite unlike the rest – more like an Englishman with blond hair and blue eyes. He spoke to me in English.

'He helped me to my feet and said, "All is OK now."

'The others tried to stop him, but he pulled out his gun and pushed his way through and gave me back to the other women.

'When I had recovered, after a few hours, I went to where the bushes had been burned by the shelling and rubbed charcoal over my face and hands, so I would be ugly and they would not do that to me again.'

The girl, too ashamed to reveal her name, added: 'I cannot put into words the horror I feel at what happened to me. I think I would have preferred it if they had shot me.'

Mrs Elena Mateidou, aged 28, was awakened by Turkish soldiers at Trimithi.She said: 'My husband and father were told to take off all their clothes and they walked us down a dry river bed.

'Then the soldiers separated the women and children and ushered us behind some olive trees. I heard a burst of shooting and knew that they had been killed.

'Later they took us back to the village with our hands tied behind our backs. Two soldiers took me into a room in a deserted house where they raped me.'

'One of them held a gun to my head while it was happening and said if I struggled he would shoot.

'Afterwards, a soldier took off my wedding ring and wore it himself.'

Mrs Mateidou added: 'I saw another woman being pulled into a bathroom where she too was raped.

'Later I went back to the olive groves and found the bodies of my husband and father along with five other men. My father had been stabbed and my husband shot in the belly.'

Later, United Nations soldiers brought the villagers food. 'The Turks took it away and ate it themselves,' said Mrs Mateidou.

Another woman who had been an intended rape victim was Miss Phrosa Meitani, aged 32.She said: 'When I saw what was happening, I ran as quickly as I could. I saw the soldiers pointing guns at me, but I was too frightened to care.

'I hid in the olive groves and tried to get back to where I had been separated from my father.

'I watched from the bushes as they cut off his hands and legs below the knee with a double-edged cutting knife.

'At first he screamed, and beat at them with his fists, but then he became quiet and did not utter a word. Then they shot him in the stomach while I watched.'

Farmer Christos Savva Drakos, 51, saw his wife and two sons murdered.

''I was watering my orchard when the bombs started to explode,' he said.

'With the rest of the village we tried to run away through the groves and river beds but the Turks caught us and we surrendered.

'They searched us but no one had a gun.

'Then the shooting started. It was one by one to start with and I heard my 16-year-old boy Georgios saying in a calm voice "Daddy, they have shot me."

'I pulled him down and we fell behind a rock, He died there in my arms. An officer had been attracted by the shooting and he ran up to see what was going on.

'He was furious with his men and ordered them to stop.

'My wife and my other boy Nicos, who was only 13, were dead.

'My friend's wife was terribly badly injured and she told the officer: "Why should I live without my husband? Shoot me".

'The officer shrugged his shoulders and walked off and a soldier shot her in the head.'

If the Turkish authorities deny these allegations I will remember the drawn face of that old man cowering in a corner, his body racked with tears.

This elderly man was no actor, or a man ordered to lie for political propaganda.

He was a poor man who had lost everything he ever possessed or loved in the world.

Hotel manager Vassilios Efthimiou was the only survivor in a party of men seized by the Turks.He said: 'They separated the men from the women and shot the 12 men.

'Those killed ranged from a 12-year-old boy to an old man in his 90s.'

His brother-in-law was shot dead while holding Efthimiou's four year-old daughter, Estella, in his arms.

Today, Estella showed where a bullet had hit her thigh.

Efthimiou saved his own life by snatching his other daughter, Charian, aged two, and running.

He said: 'I ran until my legs would carry me no longer, and I fell.

'I managed to make my way back later to a village where all the women were trembling with fear and shock.

'I handed my daughter to my wife and said I must save myself.

'I hid in a deep well in my sister's farm for seven days and nights, sitting on a little bar with my feet in the water.

'When I could not take any more I came up.'

Efthimiou and his 37-year-old wife, Helen, run the Mermaid Hotel at Six Mile Beach, Kyrenia, a popular hotel with British tourists.

PRESIDENT Glafkos Clerides of Cyprus flew into Athens today and accused Turkish troops of mass murders and rape.

He also claimed about 20,000 Greeks had been forced out of their homes around Kyrenia.

THE TURKS issued a denial.

A spokesman said: 'The Turkish military authorities deny reports of killings and any other atrocities by Turkish troops in any area under Turkish occupation.'

Sunday, 19 July 2009

The Turkish threat: what now for Greece and Cyprus?

Greece's recent foreign policy has assumed that by supporting Turkey's EU accession process, Turkey would change its aggressive behaviour in the Aegean and realise that a 'solution' to the Cyprus problem was in its own self-interest. Believing that brazen violations of Greek sovereignty and intransigence in Cyprus were a result of the conflict between the conservative Kemalist deep state and the 'reforming' AKP government of prime minister Recip Tayyip Erdogan, Greece and Cyprus decided it should come down on the side of Erdogan by not erecting insurmountable obstacles to Turkey's EU aspirations.

This interpretation of Turkish policy to Greece and Cyprus as being divided between hawks and doves and the expectation that Turkey's EU process would work in favour of the doves, has proved flawed. In fact, as the December review of Turkey's EU course approaches, not only has Turkey – a Turkey in which government and and deep state appear united – shown no inclination to alter its expansionist designs against Greece and Cyprus; but it has in fact stepped up its provocations and aggression.

In Cyprus, not only are there reports of huge new mosques and monuments to Mustafa Kemal being erected all over the occupied areas; but as the first round of settlement negotiations between President Christofias and Mehmet Ali Talat comes to a close, it is clear that the Turkish side continues to insist on a deal very similar to the partitionist Annan plan and, therefore, there has been zero progress on major issues related to territory, security and rights of refugees, and only limited progress on issues to do with economy and governance.

Indeed, only yesterday, Turkey's foreign minister Ahmet Davoutoglou threatened that unless a Cyprus 'solution' is reached by the end of the year, then Turkey would consider alternatives to reunification – which can only mean formal annexation of occupied Cyprus or, more likely, an increased effort to seek international recognition of the pseudo-state. In addition, Talat, leader of the pseudo-state, in Turkey this week to take instructions from his masters, emerged to say that he expected the international community to press the Greek side to make concessions and, in particular, to agree to a deadline for the negotiations, after which there should be binding arbitration in an attempt to bridge any outstanding differences, i.e. exactly the same procedure that led to the Annan plan.

Also this week, to demonstrate its determination to maintain its presence and influence in Cyprus, Turkey declared it would not countenance any solution that denied it its status as a 'guarantor' of the island's security, and to prove that it effectively regards Cyprus as an extension of Turkey, the Turkish government also despatched vessels to Cypriot territorial waters to explore for hydrocarbon deposits, declaring: 'Turkey has rights and interests there. Our intention to protect them is known by everyone.'

Vessels from the Turkish Petroleum Corporation will not only explore for oil and gas off Cyprus, but also in Greek territorial waters off Kastellorizo, as part of Turkey's continuing campaign to question Greek sovereignty in the Aegean, which is, of course, what lies behind the daily mass violation of Greek airspace by Turkish fighter jets.

Turkey's plan isn't to start a war with Greece, but to force Greece to engage in wide-ranging negotiations that would result in the partition of the Aegean. Indeed, this attempt to bully Greece into surrendering sovereignty in the Aegean was clearly articulated this week by the Turkish foreign ministry, which declared that the problems that exist between Greece and Turkey in the Aegean relate to: 'the islands, islets and rocks… not ceded to Greece by international treaties; the decision of Greece to broaden its territorial waters over six nautical miles; continental shelf; air space; the flight information region; and the demilitarization of islands; [and that these problems] can only be solved if they are handled as a whole… [and] by Greece and Turkey sitting down and talking'.

Other than the delimitation of the continental shelf, which Greece says should be resolved through recourse to the International Court of Justice, Greece rejects Turkey's definition of the issues that exist in the Aegean and argues that it cannot accept any invitation to talks that aim to overturn the status quo.

Two questions arise from Turkey's failure to conform to Greek expectations and, during the course of its EU process, give up its hostile intentions towards Greece and Cyprus.

1. Why does Turkey think it can pursue its expansionist designs and bullying tactics against Greece and Cyprus and at the same time maintain its EU accession process? The answer lies in the confidence Turkey must take from its supporters in the EU – particularly Britain and Sweden – who appear determined to protect, without reservation, Turkey's EU aspirations; from America, which continues to talk up Turkey as an emerging 'global' power; and from the confusion and inertia in Greek ranks as to how to respond to Turkey's recidivism.

2. Now that Greece and Cyprus' strategy of dealing with Turkey is unravelling, how will Hellenism respond, particularly with regards to the veto powers it holds over Turkey as it seeks to enter the EU?

Saturday, 18 July 2009

The Acheson plan for the partition of Cyprus

The Acheson plan devised by the Americans (and the British) for the partition of Cyprus was presented in the first half of 1964 following the intercommunal fighting that had broken out on the island in December 1963. It proposed union of Cyprus with Greece, on the conditions, inter alia, that Karpasia (and Kastellorizo) would be ceded to Turkey; that semi-independent Turkish zones would be established throughout the island; and foreign commissioners would be appointed to safeguard the pervasive rights to be granted the Turkish Cypriots in the Greek part of the island.

The plan not only strictly curtailed Greek sovereignty over the island – by handing over a large part to Turkey; by granting Turkish Cypriots administrative rights that amounted to the creation of micro states within a state: and by allowing Britain to retain the three percent of the island that it held as sovereign territory – but was also so cumbersome and dysfunctional that it was hard to imagine how it would have survived any serious strain, with the result being conflict and a much cleaner form of partition – as imposed by Turkey in 1974.

The Acheson plan was rejected by Cyprus and Greece, while Turkey, though not expressing outright rejection, did not endorse it either. A second, even more perfunctory, plan was subsequently presented by Acheson, but this was not seriously pushed by the Americans, particularly as Turkey let it be known early on that it found Acheson 2 unacceptable. The details of both plans are presented below. Both have a back-of-the-envelope feel about them. What is significant about them is not necessarily the intricacies of what they propose; but that the US had decided by 1964 that the optimum solution for Cyprus was some form of partition and that this is what it would work towards from now on.

Acheson Plan 1
In return for Turkish agreement to the union of Cyprus with Greece, Greece would make certain concessions to Turkey along the lines suggested below:

1. To give Turkey assurance that its security would not be threatened from Cyprus or from the direction of Cyprus, Greece would cede to Turkey a portion of the island in perpetuity, that is in full sovereignty.

A. This area would be used by Turkey as a military base with full rights to deploy ground, air and naval forces therein. The military purpose of this base would be to deny the island to hostile forces as a base of operations against Turkey and to keep open the approaches to the ports of Mersin and Iskenderun.

B. The area should be fairly substantial in size, large enough both to permit the building of facilities and the conduct of training manoeuvres and operations.

C. It seemed that a logical location for the base area might be the Karpas Peninsula because it was detached from the main body of the island and was ideally situated to cover the approaches to the Turkish ports. Different boundary lines for a base on the peninsula were discussed at different times; one, which appeared to be the minimum acceptable to the Turkish government, ran from Peristeria on the north coast to a point just south-west of Boghaz on the southeast coast. (The Turks agreed that the Monastery of Apostolos Andreas, near the tip of the peninsula, could be excluded from the base area).

2. Special arrangements should be made for the protection and welfare of those Turkish Cypriots who would not be included within the area of the Turkish sovereign base. (This, of course, means the vast majority of the Turkish Cypriot population). These were outlined as follows:

A. There might be one, two or three relatively small areas of the island in which Turkish Cypriots would be in the majority or very nearly so and which could be treated as separate geographical units for administrative purposes within the general governmental structure of the whole island. The Turkish quarter of Nicosia and the area stretching north of it to the Kyrenia Range was a de facto example of such an area. These administrative sub-divisions could have a special local administration of their own, directed and implemented on the ground by Turkish Cypriots. The function of these local administrations… might include such things as the collection of taxes, the expenditure of local revenues for local purposes (schools, mosques, local water supply and local roads), the direction of local police forces and the general administration of justice insofar as it applied to Turkish Cypriots, and possible other attributes of municipal and provincial governments elsewhere…

B. In all the rest of the island, where Turkish Cypriots would necessarily continue to be a relatively small minority of the population, a different arrangement could be made. There might be a central Turkish Cypriot administration established in Nicosia, which would control, for Turkish Cypriots only, many of the same activities and functions that would be undertaken by the local authorities in the separate small geographic units mentioned above. This could be done by demarcating the Turkish quarters of the major towns and identifying the scattered villages that are all-Turkish or have a clear Turkish majority. These would then be considered as under the authority of the central Turkish organisation in Nicosia, which would supervise the election or appointment of local leaders, the selection and administration of police and other normal municipal functions and could provide a system of lower courts for the handling of personal status cases, civil suits between Turks, criminal trials involving only Turks and similar matters of purely Turkish Cypriot concern…

C. The Turkish Cypriots would necessarily have to be citizens of whatever central authority was in control of the island. Subject to the privileges and responsibilities of this citizenship, they could have the local and personal rights and privileges indicated in the preceding two paragraphs. It goes without saying that they would be guaranteed all normal human and minority rights, of which those provided in the Treaty of Lausanne are good examples.

D. As a special safeguard in addition… there should be an international commissioner or commission, perhaps appointed by the UN or the International Court of Justice, who or which could be physically present on the island and charged with watching over the observations of the special status and rights of the Turkish Cypriots. Precedents for this exist in the cases of Danzig and the Soar during the period between the world wars, and the US government considers that this experiment worked well until the advent of Hitler to power in Germany upset all established arrangements. The commissioner or the commission would be empowered to hear complaints, investigate them and make recommendations to the appropriate authorities for correction of injustices. It is conceivable that he might be empowered to order correction and or compensation subject to appeal by the party opposed. If his recommendations or decisions were not accepted by one party or the other, there would be a right of appeal either to the International Court of Justice at the Hague or to some other judicial body which might be specially established under the authority of the UN. An alternative the parties might wish to consider would be for the commissioner and the court to be appointed by NATO, with the NATO members assuming responsibility for enforcement of their decisions.

E. The island of Kastellorizo to be ceded to Turkey.

Acheson Plan 2
1. The Turkish base area simply be leased to Turkey for an agreed period of years – 50 was suggested as reasonable – instead of being ceded as sovereign Turkish territory.

2. The boundary of the base area on the Karpas peninsula would be a line drawn north and south just west of the village of Komi Kebir (thus reducing the area considerably). Alternatively… the line could be drawn on the basis of military considerations after study by the Supreme Allied Commander for Europe.

3. The special provisions and guarantees for the Turkish Cypriots would be modified from those in Acheson Plan 1 to eliminate the special areas containing a Turkish Cypriot majority which would have been treated under the first plan as moderate administrative units. Instead, it is suggested that at least two of the eparchies into which Cyprus might be divided under Greek rule would always be headed by Turkish Cypriot eparchs. These eparchies would always be those containing a substantial Turkish Cypriot population. In the eparchies containing such a substantial Turkish Cypriot population, the administrative staffs and police would always contain a substantial proportion of Turkish Cypriot officials and employees.

4. Instead of the central Turkish Cypriot administration in Nicosia which was proposed in Acheson Plan 1, there would be a high official in the central government of Cyprus, under the chief Greek administrator, who would be provided with a staff and would be charged with looking after the rights and welfare of all Turkish Cypriots. This official would advise and assist Turkish Cypriots, receive and investigate complaints about discriminatory treatment or failure to give guaranteed rights, and could appeal to the courts or central government of Greece in case of need.

5. The special guarantees or minority rights envisaged in the first plan, such as those provided by the Treaty of Lausanne and the European Convention on Human Rights, would be retained. Similarly, the proposed International Commissioner appointed by the UN would be part of the second plan as of the first.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Coups, kings and apostates

'Cyprus lies at heart of the tragic political developments that have led to the death of democracy in Greece.' (Andreas Papandreou)

Hopefully, by now, we all understand how certain Greek politicians and military leaders for the sake of their own careers, enslaved by their own petty paranoias and even pettier visions of what Greece should be, sacrificed Cyprus, like Iphigenia at Aulis.

They did this by seeking to impose partition on Cyprus, which was not in the national interests of Greece or Hellenism, but would have satisfied Turkey, Britain and America – America having devised, through the Acheson plan, the details of how this partition would come about.

Because Cypriots were naturally horrified by the prospect of their country being partitioned, American foreign policy looked to 'friendly circles' in Greece to persuade the Cypriots, one way or the other, to accept the dismemberment of the island.

It is at this point that this article by Victor Netas takes up the story and relates it to the palace coup that overthrew the Centre Union government of prime minister Giorgios Papandreou on 15 July 1965 and set in motion the events that led to the junta seizing power in 1967 and the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974.

Netas claims that the constitutional coup that overthrew the Centre Union government is directly linked to a visit to Washington Papandreou made in June 1964 and his refusal to succumb to the pressure exerted on him by US President Lyndon Johnson to accept the Acheson plan, which not only envisaged the partitioning of Cyprus between Greece and Turkey but also the ceding of Kastellorizo to Turkey.

Coming out of his ill-tempered meeting with Johnson, Papandreou confided to colleagues: 'We're finished. Great powers don't forgive such things.'

After Papandreou left America, Johnson called in Greece's ambassador to Washington, Alexandros Matsas, and insisted that Greece accept the Acheson plan. Matsas said that 'no Greek parliament would ever accept such a plan' and that 'the Greek constitution does not permit for any Greek government to hand over a Greek island'.

Then came the following exchange:

Johnson: Then listen to me, Mr Ambassador. Fuck your parliament and fuck your constitution. America is an elephant. Cyprus is a flea. And Greece is a flea. If these two fleas continue itching the elephant, they may just get whacked by the elephant's trunk, whacked good…

Matsas: I'll pass on your views to the prime minister, but I'm certain of what Greece's response will be. Greece is a democracy, and the prime minister cannot override parliament's wishes.

Johnson: I'll tell you what response I'll give if I get back such a reply from your prime minister. Who does he think he is? I can't have a second De Gaulle on my plate. We pay a lot of good American dollars to the Greeks, Mr. Ambassador. If your prime minister gives me talk about democracy, parliament and constitutions, he, his parliament and his constitution may not last very long.

Netas says that President Johnson's threats and Giorgios Papandreou's fear that he would be overthrown were realised when, the following year, the palace, with the support of Centre Union defectors [the so-called 'apostates' – see my post on the role of the leading 'apostate' Konstantinos Mitsotakis], dismissed his government and installed a pro-palace administration, which would also be more deferential to American demands.

Netas goes on to suggest that America, at this time, far from acting as a restraining influence on Turkey – as Christopher Hitchens suggests America was doing, in his book, Cyprus: Hostage to History – was in fact actively encouraging the Turks to invade Cyprus to impose partition and that what was really stopping Turkey was its military unpreparedness.

Netas quotes Nihat Erim, in charge of Turkey's Cyprus policy since the 1950s, who writes in his book, Cyprus, that on 8 February 1964: 'The American journalist Lawrence Moore… visited my home and left me a book on Cyprus and a letter, in which he suggested that it is only fair and just that a Turkish Cypriot state should be created in Cyprus… [while on] 22 February 1964 I left for New York [to take part in the UN debate on Cyprus]. The Security Council's Resolution of 4 March was a victory for Turkey. At the same time, it became known at the UN that the Turkish government had decided to invade Cyprus if Makarios did not comply [with the UNSC resolution]. On 11 March, [Turkey's prime minister] Ismet Inonu called me in, and asked for my impressions from America. I told him: 'America is on our side, but doesn't wish to see a war with Greece. America is thinking of NATO. But America is open to persuasion'… Inonu replied: 'We are not in a position to send our army to Cyprus. We discuss it with our generals three times a day.'

Netas goes on to suggest that during the period of the 'apostasy' that brought down Papandreou, 'many strange things occurred', and refers to an article in the Turkish daily Milliyet on 27 January 1976 – Some confidential recollections on Turkish-Greek relations – in which Suat Hayri Urguplu, who served as Turkey's ambassador to Washington and his country's prime minister in 1965, claims that senior Greek officials, to the astonishment of the Turkish government, had suggested that the two countries 'settle their differences like Ataturk and Venizelos. The Greeks offered us 2-3 nearby islands and suggested that the Ecumenical Patriarchy and Halki Theological School, which have remained in Turkey without meaning and wound our national sensitivities, be transferred to Greece.'

Netas wonders who exactly made the offer to Turkey. It couldn't have come from the Papandreou government, and must have been made, he suggests, by 'apostate' circles who formed the pro-American administration installed with the collusion of the palace.

NOTE: Netas doesn't make clear what these 'senior Greek officials' were asking in return for the ceding of 2-3 Greek islands and the transfer of the patriarchate; presumably, for such significant 'concessions', the union of all of Cyprus with Greece.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

'Alexander has been admitted to hospital'

Below is the article I posted last 15 July on the anniversary of the 1974 coup against President Makarios, which resulted in the barbaric Turkish invasion of Cyprus and the island's de facto partition. I don't have much to add to my initial description of the events that fateful Monday; except to refer to a point that arises from Dinos Avgoustis' article – Αλέξανδρος εισήλθε εις νοσοκομείο (Alexander has been admitted to hospital) – which appeared in yesterday's Simerini. ('Alexander has been admitted to hospital' was the chilling signal given by the junta's henchman-in-chief on Cyprus, Brigadier Michalis Georgitsis, to begin the coup against Makarios).

Avgoustis reminds us that Makarios, in the run-up to the coup, despite all the information reaching him that junta leader Dimitris Ioannides had decided to overthrow the legitimate government of Cyprus, refused to believe that the junta would be so stupid, reckless and unpatriotic to try such a move, knowing, as it surely must have known, that it was bound to provide Turkey with the pretext it had been looking for to invade the island. 'There are no madmen in the Greek military,' Makarios is reported to have confidently said. 'Not even Ioannides.'

But Makarios was wrong, catastrophically wrong. There were madmen in the Greek military, whose patriotism was subordinated to their own instinct for survival and to those foreign interests they had become dependent on. In hindsight, it is clear that Makarios should never have risked open conflict with the junta by sending such a provocative letter. The junta's days were numbered and a smarter option would have been to be patient and let it die a natural death and not give it the opportunity to take Cyprus down to hell with it.

The coup against Makarios
In the above clip from Michalis Cacoyiannis' definitive film Attila '74: The Rape of Cyprus (see right, in menu bar, to watch film in its entirety), the events leading up to the Greek junta's coup against President Makarios on 15 July, 1974 are described, particularly the letter Makarios sent to the Athens government complaining about the activities on the island of the National Guard, led by Greek officers loyal to the junta, and the gangster EOKA B outfit – established by Grivas in 1971, at the instigation and with the support of the junta and the CIA – whose raison d'être was the overthrow of the democratically elected Cypriot government.

The junta's response to Makarios' letter of 2 July was the coup. The coup's main objective was the murder of Makarios and the installation of a regime that would implement the long-established US-inspired Acheson plan to partition Cyprus between Greece and Turkey, who would then turn the island into an anti-communist NATO protectorate.

Of course, what happened was that Makarios survived the coup, Greek Cypriots resisted the junta and the Americans double-crossed their lackeys in Athens, having reassured them initially that any coup against Makarios would not be countered by an invasion from the Turks – who, the junta was led to believe by the Americans, understood that the coup was an internal Greek matter and were content that the junta would soon satisfy their demands for some form of partition of Cyprus, with maybe Kastelorizo thrown in for good measure.

The junta, having failed to deliver its end of the bargain to the Americans – i.e. Makarios' head and a Cypriot puppet leader with some legitimacy on the island and internationally (someone like Glafkos Clerides and not the man the junta eventually plumped for, the notorious EOKA B gangster Nikos Sampson, who the Americans, nevertheless, began the process of recognising as Cyprus' legitimate head of state) – quickly found itself abandoned by its Washington sponsors, who turned to backing the Turkish horse; the Turks having found themselves quite unexpectedly in a position to impose partition on Cyprus on their own terms.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

The roots of Greece's betrayal of Cyprus are deep

The Greek daily Ta Nea reported today that it had unearthed classified American documents describing conversations that took place in Athens in June 1965 between an unnamed senior US diplomat and Konstantinos Mitsotakis regarding the political crisis affecting Greece at the time – which eventually led to the colonels' coup in April 1967 – and the situation in Cyprus.

Mitsotakis was then minister of economy in Giorgos Papandreou's Centre Union government, a government he eventually helped to bring down. Post-1974, Mitsotakis continued to play a prominent role in Greek politics, serving as prime minister from 1990 to 1993 and since then as honorary president of the New Democracy party.

In relation to Cyprus, the documents reveal that Mitsotakis told the US diplomat he strongly favoured the Acheson plan, the US plan that aimed to partition Cyprus between Greece and Turkey, and he suggested two things: 1. That the Greek government was predisposed to the plan and that it was only Andreas Papandreou and the influence he had with his father, the then prime minister, Giorgos Papandreou, which was preventing the Greek government from endorsing it; 2. That to overcome the resistance to the plan being expressed by Cyprus' president, Archbishop Makarios, a coup should be organised to overthrow him and the plan imposed on Cyprus by force of arms, presumably Greek and Turkish militaries acting together.

The information regarding Mitsotakis, the Acheson plan and Cyprus is useful for a number of reasons, including: 1. It reveals that the junta's coup against Makarios in July 1974 did not emerge out of thin air, but was the culmination of plots against Cyprus that had been around in Greek political circles for years, i.e the betrayal of Cyprus cannot be laid solely at the door of the junta but at the entire Greek political class, which put foreign interests above those of Greece; 2. The political class that existed in Greece in 1965 is the same one that exists in Greece today, and its thinking is the same: sacrifice Greek national interests for the sake of wider NATO/EU/Western interests and in the name of Greco-Turkish friendship.

Speaking of Greco-Turkish friendship and proving my point about the survival of Greece's 1965 political class, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry at the following comments made earlier this week to the Greek parliament's select committee on foreign affairs by Greece's foreign minister, Dora Bakoyianni – who is, of course, Mitsotakis' daughter.

According to this article in Cypriot daily Simerini, Bakoyianni told her fellow MPs that: 'We have seen no evidence so far that the Davutoglou dogma [shaped by Turkey's current foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu] that espouses Turkey having no problems with its neighbours is being applied to Greece.'

Despite Bakoyianni admitting that Turkey has shown no intention of ending its aggression towards Greece, she insisted that Greece continued to believe in a policy of Greek-Turkish friendship, which according to her is: 'a rational and well-considered choice, based on the fact that Greece and Turkey have to coexist harmoniously. We mustn't stop talking. Conflict hurts Greece first and foremost. Greece and Turkey won't all of a sudden become best friends, but we must build together through trust, and learning from history, a peaceful future, avoiding the mistakes of the past.'

Friday, 10 July 2009

Archbishop Kyprianos and the 9th July 1821

‘The race of the Greeks was born when the world was born;
No one has ever been able to uproot it.

God shelters it from the heights: it cannot die.

Not till the whole world ends will the Greek race vanish!

‘You may kill us till our blood becomes a torrent,

You may make the world a slaughterhouse for Greeks,

But when an ancient poplar is cut down

Three hundred offshoots sprout and grow around it.

The ploughshare thinks it eats the earth it cuts,

But is itself destroyed and eaten up.’

(Vassilis Michailides, The 9th July 1821)

Below is an article (my translation) that appeared in yesterday's Simerini by Kostis Kokkinofta regarding the Ottomans' execution by hanging of Archbishop Kyprianos of Cyprus on 9 July 1821. It should be noted that Kokkinofta is a researcher attached to Kykkos Monastery and, as you would expect, his account of events tends towards hagiography and asserts the role of the church in defending the interests of Hellenism on the island. Without touching too much on whether Kyprianos deserves his status as a national martyr or the role of the Cypriot Church in the Ottoman period, it is worth stressing that Kyprianos was not the only one who was put to death by the Turks on Cyprus in 1821 with the intention of preventing the Greek revolution from spreading to the island; and no doubt he was not the only one who went to his death with 'modesty' and 'humility'. In fact, after the initial killings of the island's leading Greeks was carried out on and soon after 9 July 1821 – some 500 were rounded up from across the island, brought to Nicosia and massacred – it is reported that Turkish, Arab and Albanian soldiers conducted a reign of terror throughout the island that lasted six months and resulted in at least 40,000 Greeks (half the island's Greek population) either being killed or fleeing Cyprus – mostly to the Ionian islands.

Archbishop Kyprianos and the 9th July 1821
Towards the end of the 1810s, Archbishop Kyprianos, clerics and other notables on Cyprus were initiated into the Philiki Etaireia. However, the multiple difficulties faced by Cyprus because of its distance from the main areas of the forthcoming uprising of Greeks against Ottoman rule and, particularly, the island's proximity to Egypt and Syria, with their large Muslim populations and concentrations of Ottoman soldiers, would have exposed Cyprus to bloody reprisals and therefore the island was excluded from the initial plans for the revolution.

Despite the fact that on Cyprus there was no armed uprising in 1821, the local Ottoman authorities took measures that aimed to eradicate the island's clerical and civilian leadership and to induce fear among the general population. The events that followed were the most tragic that befell Hellenism in Cyprus during the Ottoman occupation.

The church's leaders, headed by Archbishop Kyprianos of Cyprus and three bishops, Meletios of Kition, Chrysanthos of Paphos and Lavrentios of Kyrenia, as well as a large number of leading citizens, were executed and their properties confiscated.

'When in 1822, I was in Larnaca,' wrote the Swedish traveller Jacob Bergren, 'the Greek population of the island had been reduced to such an extent that many of the large villages were completely uninhabited. The Turkish soldiers brought death wherever they passed… The Virgin was dressed everywhere in black, many houses were abandoned and splattered in blood.'

The most distinguished figure of these terrible events was Archbishop Kyprianos, who acted as a responsible, patriotic leader and spiritual father, trying to strike a balance between supporting, on the one hand, the revolution in Greece while, on the other, attempting to protect the local population. His role was particularly tragic since he knew that he could not avoid martyrdom…

The last moments of Archbishop Kyprianos' life are described by the English traveller John Carne, who visited him shortly before his execution. As Carne notes, when he asked the archbishop why he did not do more to save himself when he realised the political situation on the island was tense and his life in danger, the archbishop replied that he had decided to provide whatever protection he could to the local Christians and he had determined, if necessary, to die alongside them.

Years later, Vassilis Michailides, in his poem, The 9th July 1821, attached great meaning to Kyprianos' decision to remain with his flock, having him say to the good-hearted Turk Kioroglou, who was urging him to flee the island: 'I'm not leaving Kioroglou, because if I leave, my leaving will bring death to the Greeks here'. ('Δεν φεύκω, Kιόρογλου, γιατί, αν φύω, ο φευκός μου/εν να γενή θανατικόν εις τους Pωμιούς του τόπου').

According to Carne, Kyprianos went to his death displaying unusual courage and unique dignity. With his sacrifice, he honoured Romiosini, asserted his Greek identity and justified his Christian faith. Modestly, humbly, with dignity and no self-pity, he went serenely to his death and immortality.

Joseph Woolf, a Protestant of Jewish origin, who arrived in Nicosia a few days after the tragic events of 9 July, relays eyewitness accounts that a proposal was made to Kyprianos just before his execution that he could save himself if he renounced Christianity and became a Muslim. As Woolf notes, the archbishop rejected the proposal without a second thought and went to his death repeating the phrases: 'Lord have mercy on me, Christ have mercy on me.'

Saturday, 4 July 2009


Fourth of July, 2004 Greece beat Portugal 1-0 in the final of the European Championships and all my sporting dreams are satisfied. I have no more demands to make on the sporting gods and I will die a happy man.

Above is a reminder of those extraordinary few weeks.

The first video contains the goals from all of Greece's games in the tournament. The second is of the last few minutes of extra-time in the semi-final against the Czech Republic and Traianos Dellas' delirium-inducing winning goal – the most memorable moment of the championships for me. And the third video cleverly mixes Greece's triumph in the football with the Greek basketball team's brilliant success at Eurobasket 2005. There's great commentary on all the videos.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Cyprus: the optimistic scenario

Reading again my previous post on the British thief, I was struck by his assertion that since the Turkish occupation regime eased crossing restrictions in 2003 'the Turkish Cypriots have become second-best once again' and how he cited as an example of this supposed Greek revival in the north the swiftness with which 'Greek menus went up in Girne [occupied Kyrenia] harbor and elsewhere'.

Now, even though we can't take seriously the observations of this ignorant crook whose agenda is to maintain the status quo for the sake of his sordid interests; there is a point to be made about how Greek Cypriots anticipate that, if there is a solution and some sort of reunification, they will restore justice and come to regain occupied Cyprus, and this is by force of numbers and economic muscle.

This optimistic scenario is, of course, dependent on a number of factors; one of the most important being that any solution Christofias negotiates with the Turks does not preclude the freedom to settle and own property anywhere on the island. The Turks have insisted in a solution that a kind of apartheid system is established, in which in the Turkish Cypriot constituent state there is always a clear majority of Turkish Cypriots and Turkish Cypriot ownership of land. However, the Turks can only achieve this rigid racial separation if the EU (and Christofias) agrees to permanent derogations from the acquis communautaire, which stipulates that EU citizens have the right to reside and buy property anywhere in the EU. Thus, it is important that Christofias rejects permanent derogations and insists that any temporary derogations are for as short a period as possible. It should be noted that the Annan plan was full of permanent derogations, while temporary ones were to last for so long as to effectively take on a permanent character.