President Christofias’ gauche comment at the Brookings Institute last month suggesting that in 1974 both Greece and Turkey invaded Cyprus. My take on the comment is that it was the result of Christofias’ tragic grasp of English and his country-bumpkin mentality that makes him want to appear cleverer than he is when abroad or confronted by foreigners.
Having said this, Stavros Lygeros is also right to point out that Christofias’ stupid comment is also part and parcel of Cyprus’ unreconstituted communist party AKEL’s discourse on the Cyprus problem, which blames Greek and Turkish nationalism for the island’s fate and proposes as a resolution Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot working classes uniting against imperialism, capitalism and all the rest.
It’s a ridiculous discourse, though it does tap into some Cypriot resentment towards Greece for its Cyprus policy from 1955 to 1974. For instance, when it is said that it was not Greece but the junta that betrayed Cyprus in 1974 and that the junta were nothing more than American CIA puppets not representative of the Greek people, I personally do not buy this. Firstly, because all the junta did in 1974 when it tried to topple Makarios in order to strike a bargain with Turkey on double enosis was put into practice Greek state policy since 1964; and, secondly, it is nonsense to argue that the junta was an entirely external imposition on Greece and ignore its roots in a particular form of Greek politics that emerged after the civil war.
Still, I know it’s difficult for non-Cypriots to understand how Cyprus has a communist president and such a powerful communist party – which consistently attracts 35 percent of votes at elections; but the truth is that AKEL’s supporters are not rabid class warriors and the party’s leaders are invariably a bunch of dumb hicks who pay nothing more than lip-service to Marxist-Leninism. In fact, their Marxist-Leninism has been reduced to a form of kitsch, as revealed by the photo above, taken, apparently, chez Christofias, in which the president’s wife, Elsi, another product of 1960s Soviet education, proudly displays the massive portrait of Karl Marx hanging in their dining room.