The dispute began when I objected to an article, Turkey, the Arab world, and the myth of moderate Islamism, by Nervana Mahmoud, in which the author stated that Turkey had a ‘well-established democracy’ going back to the 1950s. I tweeted to her, rather sarcastically, that this was only the case if you discounted the coups of 1960, 1971, 1981 and the postmodern coup of 1997.
Corman evidently saw my tweet and read other tweets I’d written in which I’d been critical of those who, in reporting the crackdown on anti-Erdogan protests in Turkey, had portrayed Turkey as a misunderstood western-type liberal democracy when, in fact, it is an authoritarian, belligerent, hyper-nationalist entity that bears many hallmarks associated with fascism. Corman criticised what he saw as my ‘negativism’ towards Turkey, then brought up the Akritas plan and asked, because of my moniker, whether I wasn’t somehow related to it!
Now, I know that the Akritas plan was drawn up in 1963 by minister of the interior Polykarpos Yiorkadjis in response to the build up of Turkish arms on Cyprus and the increasing threat of a Turkish invasion. It spelled out how Greek Cypriots might thwart a Turkish assault by knocking out the armed enclaves Turkish Cypriots had established before these enclaves had a chance to link up with invading forces from Turkey. I also know that Turkey has attempted to portray the Akritas plan as a Greek Cypriot plot to annihilate Turkish Cypriots and, indeed, Corman repeated this claim and stated that, between 1963-74, Turkish Cypriots were incarcerated in concentration camps and were exposed to a campaign of ‘eradication’ and ‘extermination’.
(Corman, in a tweet revealing a deep-seated resentment of Greeks, added: ‘You never miss a chance to insult us, but rather you should focus on yourselves’, before going on to accuse Greeks of being ‘obsessive nationalists’).
Rather than engage in a slanging match with Corman, I preferred to provide him with a link to the Akritas plan and asked him to show me where it mentioned any intention on the part of Greek Cypriots to wipe out Turkish Cypriots.
His reply was that the plan wouldn’t state its objective so blatantly, but that the frequent mention of ‘national struggle’ clearly proved Greek Cypriots’ genocidal intentions.
I pointed out that ‘national struggle’ at this time clearly meant a struggle for self-determination, which for Greek Cypriots aimed at the revision of the 1960 constitution, the removal of those provisions they perceived granted the Turkish minority excessive powers and which the Turkish Cypriots had been exploiting to undermine the normal functioning of the Cypriot state and to create a state within a state. I said it was spurious to equate ‘national struggle’ with a desire to eradicate the Turkish Cypriots, and, indeed, I asked for facts and figures regarding this alleged extermination of the Turkish Cypriots – you’d expect such a calculated campaign to have been well publicised and documented, particularly in the international media.
I also argued that what Corman termed ‘concentration camps’ were in fact armed enclaves into which Turkish Cypriots had wilfully retreated in order to create the conditions for partition on the ground, which Turkey would definitively impose by invasion. In 1965, the UN Secretary General, U Thant, referred to this Turkish ploy as ‘deliberate self-segregation’. In fact, I told Corman, the only plan of ‘eradication’ that existed in Cyprus was the plan for partition being followed by Turkey, in which Greek Cypriots would be eradicated from those parts of the island Turkey was expecting to annex – a plan brutally and successfully executed with Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus in 1974.
Unfortunately, to Corman, my measured and informed comments demonstrated that I was ‘living in a fantasy world’ and he said he felt ‘sorry’ for me. Annoyed by Corman’s boorish arrogance – and my own naive assumption that if you present someone with well-argued facts then they will come to their senses, particularly if they are a senior diplomat (who you’d expect not to believe any old rubbish and to be disposed to rational thought) – I expressed surprise that a high-ranking Turkish diplomat was ‘regurgitating risible propaganda’ and said his outpourings were what I’d expect of a brainwashed ultra-nationalist. Despite Corman showing signs of wanting to continue the argument – even if he said he regretted starting a conversation with me – I decided to end the exchange, regarding it as pointless to engage with an obtuse fanatic with no interest in truth or reasonable discussion.
2. john akritas: ‘Well-established democracy since 1950s?’ You mean apart from the coups in 1960, 1971 and 1980 and the postmodern one in 1997.
3. Fazli Corman: Reading your negativism on Turkey, I wondered if “Akritas” simply your name or related to that “plan” in Cyprus?
4. john akritas: You mean the plan to thwart an invasion of Cyprus that Turkey propagandistically presents as plan to wipe out TCs.
5. john akritas: I’m just skeptical of claims that Turkey is a model democracy. More like, ultranationalist, authoritarian, bellicose.
6. Fazli Corman: Did you really learn Akritas plan like this??? As I know it was a plan to exterminate & eradicate Turks from Cyprus.
7. Fazli Corman: You never miss a chance to insult us, but rather you should focus on yourselves.
8. john akritas: Not true. The plan can be read here: http://bit.ly/ZV01rZ. Please show me where it mentions ‘eradicating’ TCs.
9. Fazli Corman: Would they write it like that? What do you think is the “national struggle” that is mentioned all over?
10. john akritas: How have I insulted you? I’m a critic of the Turkish state and the inflated claims made about Turkish ‘democracy’.
11. john akritas: National struggle refers to self-determination. It’s not right to interpret this as a plan to kill TCs.
12. john akritas: Read my brush with Turkey’s ambassador to Yemen @FazliCorman, who repeats outlandish claim that GCs tried to eradicate TCs https://twitter.com/Nervana_1/status/342804949593382912
13. Fazli Corman: Outlandish?? You deny a very clear fact, even not historical, since I have seen this as a kid. Concentration camps of TCs.
14. Fazli Corman: Blaming Turkey of military coups should have reminded you of your own ones. Nationalism; Greeks and GCs by far more obsessed.
15. john akritas: Concentration camps! TCs retreated into armed enclaves in preparation for partition. UN called it ‘deliberate self-segregation’
16. Fazli Corman: Whether or not you accept, it was a plan to wipe out Turks. And it was implemented between 1963-74 until we stopped.
17. Fazli Corman: Ask the Turkish Cypriots who lived in the Island between 63-74 and then speak on ultranationalism or bellicose...
18. Fazli Corman: What is self-determination then? Living side by side in the Island with TCs? Is that what you believe?
19. john akritas: 1/2 Self-determination meant unitary state in which TCs had minority rights. You can’t interpret this as plan to wipe out TCs.
20. john akritas: 2/2 On the other hand, what could Turkish policy of ‘partition or death’ mean other than wiping out GCs from northern Cyprus?
21. john akritas: 1/2 There was no such plan and nothing like it ever happened. For you to make such a claim, you must provide facts and figures.
22. john akritas: 2/2 Truth is between 1967-1974, relations between GCs and TCs were improving, even if TMT was against any return to normality.
23. john akritas: And even if your narrative is correct, which it is not, it can’t justify the brutality of the invasion or 40 years’ occupation.
24. john akritas: And brutality of the invasion was no accident. It had to be this way to fulfill Turkey’s long-term policy of partitioning Cyprus.
25. john akritas: And since I dispute your TC woe narrative, I believe Turkey is on Cyprus for other reasons, to do with nationalism and undemocratic state.
26. Fazli Corman: Unfortunately it seems that you are living in a fantasy world, I feel sorry for you... Regret the time I spent talking to you.
27. john akritas: I feel sorry for Turkey if all its officials are capable of is regurgitating risible propaganda. Are you the best they can do?
28. john akritas: I expect nonsense about concentration camps and genocide from a brainwashed ultra-nationalist, not a senior diplomat.
29. Fazli Corman: I should’ve stopped responding you much earlier. But concentration camps and attempted ethnic cleansing in Cyprus are facts.