Saturday, 26 November 2011
Cyprus Still Divided
Above is Cyprus Still Divided, a pretty good documentary on the Cyprus issue and the role the USA – and particularly the odious Henry Kissinger – played in partitioning the island. The film was made by the American Hellenic Institute with the intention of educating a US audience and, as such, has been shown on NPR stations and at various ‘Town Hall screenings’. There’s good archive footage, mostly taken from Michalis Cacoyiannis’ film Attila 1974: The Rape of Cyprus, plus more recent interviews with Paul Sarbanes, John Brademas, Nicholas Burns, Christopher Hitchens, Titina Loizidou and others.
A couple of points on accuracy and interpretation.
1. The film states that the policy of the Athens junta 1967-74 was enosis. This is not true. The junta’s Cyprus policy was partition. This is well established now. Thus, despite dressing itself up as nationalist and patriotic, the junta’s policy for Cyprus was anything but; having been persuaded by its US supervisors that the best thing for the junta, Greco-Turkish relations, the West in its contest with communism and so on, was for Cyprus to be divided between Greece and Turkey. The tension that existed between the junta and Makarios – why they tried to assassinate him and eventually overthrew him in a coup – was because they regarded the archbishop as an obstacle not to enosis, which Makarios believed in, but to partition, which he, and 99% of Cypriots, did not.
2. The film states that the junta’s purpose in removing Makarios was to unite Cyprus with Greece. But, as I’ve already said, partition not enosis was the junta’s policy, in which case the purpose of the coup was the removal of Makarios and the setting up of a subordinate regime in Nicosia, permitting Athens to open negotiations with Turkey as to how best to partition the island, along the lines of the Acheson plan. Thus, even though junta-leader Dimitrios Ioannides was stupid and a psychopath, he would not have acted against Makarios if he thought the Turks would invade. All Ioannides’ actions in July 1974 suggest he was under the impression – provided to him by the Americans – that Turkey accepted Athens’ plan to get rid of Makarios in order to expedite partition.
3. When talking about the coup against Makarios, the film shows images of Colonel Giorgos Papadopoulos, even though he had been ousted by Brigadier Dimitrios Ioannides as junta leader in November 1973 and it was Ioannides, not Papadopoulos, who initiated the coup against Makarios.
Indeed, one of Makarios’ biggest miscalculations was not to have realised that the junta under Ioannides was far more dangerous to Cyprus than it had been under Papadopoulos. Makarios always believed that, despite the constant rumours, the Papadopoulos-led junta would not be so stupid as to initiate a coup against him. Makarios mistakenly assumed that this basic level of intelligence was shared by Ioannides and his cohorts.
4. Finally, Christopher Hitchens makes his usual incisive interventions in the film; and I want to dwell on his statement that Cyprus paid the price for the fall of the junta. This is entirely accurate and, indeed, it always annoys me the way (mainland) Greeks insist they brought down the junta – and that central to this was the student uprising at the Athens Polytechnic in November 1973. All the student protest achieved was convince hard-liners, like Ioannides, that Papadopoulos wasn’t tough enough and that Greece needed a firmer hand. It didn’t shorten the time of the junta by five minutes.