Thursday, 14 July 2011
Cyprus National Guard funerals turn political
No signs of the outrage and fury abating in Cyprus following the deaths of 13 National Guardsmen and firefighters on Monday after the confiscated Syro-Iranian arms cache stored on Evangelos Florakis naval base in Mari blew after a brushfire. The anger is aimed at the island’s communist president who, it appears, rather than trust the weapons to German, American or British authorities to dispose of, true to his ‘anti-imperialist’ worldview, preferred not to offend Syria and Iran – leaders in the anti-Western camp, to which Demetris Christofias innately believes Cyprus belongs – and dumped the problem on the National Guard, which repeatedly told its political masters since the weapons were seized in 2009 that the resources provided to it to safely handle the deadly cargo were inadequate.
The anger with the Christofias’ government has taken on a patriotic tone, with Cypriot public opinion seemingly fed up with Christofias’ undermining of the National Guard – which all Cypriot males devote at least two years of their lives to; his indifference to the practical defence of Cyprus; the antiquated ideological motives that inspired him to put relations with Iran and Syria over the advice and safety of National Guard servicemen – the National Guard being, for Christofias and his ilk, a bastion of Hellenism on the island, a reminder of the island’s armed national struggles, which Christofias regards as rooted in ’nationalism’ and ‘chauvinism’; and his constant attacks on Greece’s influence in Cyprus and chipping away at Cypriots’ Greekness, their attachment to Greece and to Hellenism. Thus, the funerals of the fallen had a political character, with strong condemnations of the criminal negligence and incompetence of the Christofias’ government contrasted with the self-sacrifice and dutiful patriotism of the dead, with the son of the Cyprus Navy Chief Andreas Ioannides giving in his funeral oration a stirring defence of Cypriot Hellenism, those who believe in it, serve it and defend it.
Above is Tuesday night’s RIK news report on the funerals of the two most senior officers killed in the conflagration, Captain Andreas Ioannides, commander of the Navy, and Commander Lambros Lambrou, commander of the Evangelos Florakis Naval Base. Ioannides was from Yialousa, the occupied Greek village in the Karpasia peninsula, and Lambrou was from Yialousa’s satellite village of Agia Triada.