Tuesday, 8 April 2014

No to a ‘Turkish peace’ in Cyprus

The piece below by Marios Evriviades – professor of International Relations at Panteion University in Athens – states clearly Turkey’s Cyprus policy – which is the dismantling or disabling of the Republic of Cyprus – and stresses the various methods the Turks have used in pursuit of it. 

Evriviades debunks a number of myths the Turkish propaganda machine has promulgated down the years. His repudiation of the myth that Turkey invaded Cyprus to protect the Turkish Cypriots – who had allegedly been under siege since 1963 and in 1974, with the Athens coup, were now under imminent threat of massacre – is particularly important. 

Portraying the Greek Cypriots as responsible for their own downfall because of their nationalism and the way they treated the Turkish minority on the island is intended to strip Turkey of its responsibility for its invasion and occupation of Cyprus and obscure the fact that partition of Cyprus was something Turkey had plotted since 1956. A narrative that blames Greek nationalism and alleged Greek excesses for Cyprus’ unhappy fate also aims to compel the Greek Cypriots to accept a Cyprus settlement that legitimises Turkey’s invasion and occupation. Since you were guilty of the sin of nationalism and for (supposedly) mistreating the Turkish Cypriots, the logic goes, you must now be punished by accepting limits on your basic human rights and democracy.

Evriviades’ article originally appeared here. I believe Evriviades to be one of the better writers on Cyprus and for more of his pieces, go here.

No hegemonic peace in Cyprus
Almost forty years to the date, the Turks finally figured out that they had invaded the wrong geographic region of Cyprus. Cyprus’s power wealth, its hydrocarbons, have been found to be located in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) off its southern shores and not in its northern ones, where the NATO-trained and US-supplied Turkish army attacked massively in 1974. Since then and for decades the Turks persistently and stubbornly insisted that whatever the Cyprus problem, it was permanently solved in 1974. These days they are not so sure. And they have turned peace advocates. Or so it seems.

The double irony is that if one were to believe Ankara’s 1974 propaganda, namely that they were not “invading” but that they were merely launching a “peacekeeping operation” to secure the safety of their coreligionists, who were allegedly under threat of instant massacre by their blood-thirsty compatriots, then it was the southern part that they should have attacked in the first place! For it was in the southern districts of Limassol and Paphos that the vast majority of the allegedly threatened 100,000 or so Turkish Cypriots lived. They did not live in the Kyrenia district and the Karpass or Morphou regions, that were the targets of the 1974 attack by Turkey.

In fact the autochthonous Greek Cypriot population in the presently Turkish-army occupied part of Cyprus numbered close to 200,000 souls. This is a figure that is twice as large as the total number of Turkish Cypriots who, prior the 1974 invasion, were intermingled with the Greek Cypriots throughout the island but, significantly, constituting nowhere a regional majority (except in a very few villages). And in July 1974, when the Athens junta-organised coup occurred against the legitimate government of the Republic, they were hardly under any threat, lest one of massacre (“genocide” is Ankara’s favorite term).

Actual inter-communal violence in post-independence Cyprus occurred in 1963/64-65 and in 1967 and it was sporadic. Greek Cypriots are misleadingly cast as the villains of this period. And maybe they were. But those who do cast them as such should at least consult the posthumously published PhD thesis, “Political Geography and the Cyprus Conflict, 1963-1971” of  Richard A. Patrick, a Canadian UN peacekeeper in Cyprus turned scholar. Patrick had done meticulous field research on the death toll, especially within the Turkish Cypriot community from 1963-1971 which he complemented with UN documentation, international reports and local police and death records. Space does not allow me to go into details except to say than on the basis of Patrick’s figures the “massacre” and genocide” narratives are upended. And Patrick was no friend of the Greek Cypriots.

My more relevant point is that from 1968 until 20 July 1974, the day of the Turkish invasion, there is no record of any inter-communal fighting in Cyprus and of deaths on either side (except for an accidental one in the early 1970s) and I challenge anyone to document otherwise. And who was it that said that the coup was an internal affair among Greek Cypriots and it was of no concern to the Turkish Cypriots? No other than the late Rauf Denktash. His comments were recorded on July 15 by the CIA run Foreign Broadcast Information Service stations, operating in Cyprus since 1947.

The 1974 invasion was an act of war against the Republic of Cyprus that had a twin objective. It was designed to establish a non-existent pro-Turkish political argument that the facts on the ground and geography denied. The Turkish Cypriots, spread throughout the island, constituted nowhere and in none of the six districts of Cyprus a majority. That ethnographic and geographic fact produced a dead end for Ankara’s principal argument that Cyprus should be split geographically for partitionist ends. So the invasion was politically designed to conquer the northern part and establish there the geographic basis for partition.

Still the conquest was a necessary but not a sufficient condition towards that objective. The sufficient condition was what followed the Turkish conquest and it was so planned. That was the organised ethnic cleansing of the autochthonous Greek Cypriot population that constituted the majority in the region, and the “gathering” there of the Turkish Cypriots from all over Cyprus. In other words the indigenous Greek Cypriots of the region did not become refugees because of the tragedy of war but because of the design of the invasion. Were they not forced out of their homes they would still have outnumbered the Turkish Cypriots by a 2 to 1 ratio, thus defeating Ankara’s objective in spite of the conquest and forced relocation of Turkish Cypriots to the occupied areas.

Again if the objective of Ankara was the declared one of safeguarding the Turkish Cypriot population, which along with the Greek Cypriot one began to be collectively victimized after the Turkish invasion of July and not before, the Turkish invaders should have proceeded from north to south in order to secure the Limassol and Paphos districts, where the vast majority of the Turkish Cypriots resided. Instead in their August offensive the Turks proceeded to attack easterly and westerly, splitting the country in two and expelling the indigenous population.

The strategic aim of the Turkish invasion was the destruction of the Cypriot state, whose independence and territorial integrity Turkey had otherwise undertook to guarantee under the 1960 accords. But unlike its successful ethnic cleansing strategy, the forceful attempt to destroy the 1960 Republic failed spectacularly. The Cypriot state not only survived the Turkish onslaught and all subsequent and persistent Turkish efforts to delegitimise it, it succeeded, in 2004, to become a member of the European Union and even preside over it for six months in 2012, to the chagrin of Ankara. Unable to deal with Cypriot legitimacy, Ankara called off the UN sponsored negotiations. Not unsurprising, certain Western chanceries, including the UN Secretariat, were quick to shift the blame for this away from Ankara and place it, eventually, on their favourite bogey.

But there does exist a serious political problem in Cyprus; it has existed for decades and it needs to be addressed and solved foremost for the sake of Cypriots, who in two generations have suffered through an anti-colonial rebellion, a civil war, a coup and an invasion.

For peace to be established in Cyprus two conditions are necessary. First, Turkey’s western supporters, by which I mean essentially Washington and London, must abandon their cockeyed view of Cyprus and their not so subtle strategy to frogmarch the Greek Cypriot majority population into a “Turkish peace”,  as they unsuccessfully attempted to do in 2004 through the cratocidal Annan plan. No amount of western cant, sophistry and hypocrisy (revealed in all its glory with the current Crimea crisis) can do away with the fact that the obstacle to peace in Cyprus is the offensively deployed 40,000 Turkish NATO trained and US supplied occupation army and not the alleged intransigence of the majority population of Cyprus. Concomitantly, Turkey must abandon its zero-sum game and its equally cockeyed vision of Cyprus as a Turkish satrapy.

These conditions may seem surreal to those who have been holding for decades a carpentered view of Cyprus. But are they? Why is it that the Indonesian occupation forces had to withdraw from East Timor, why did the Soviets had to leave Afghanistan and before them the Americans from Vietnam and more recently from Iraq, why did the Israelis withdrew from Lebanon in 2000 with the Syrians followed due five years later, but the Turkish elephant is allowed to trample cost free all over Cyprus for decades? Are the Turks some sort of “holy cow” in the western family? Are the West’s leaders onto something about the Turks that they selfishly keep to themselves?

Why is there a consensus that there cannot be a solution to the current Ukrainian-Crimea  crisis without the restoration of legitimacy, without the threat or use of force and by respecting Ukrainian sovereignty,  territorial integrity and independence? Why those in the lead on this issue, the Anglo-Americans, have convinced themselves and have been unsuccessfully trying to convince the overwhelming majority of Cypriots (who in 1974 lost one percent of their population to Turkey’s “peacekeepers”) of the aberrant view that  the Turks have so called “red lines” in Cyprus, namely that they must garrison Cyprus in perpetuity and do so through “international treaties”?

The current Greek Cypriot negotiator in the just “restarted” UN sponsored talks is fond of repeating that at this particular juncture the stars may “just align” for a win-win solution. Apparently the catalyst for his optimism, shared by his President and the so called International Community, are the potentially large hydrocarbon deposits discovered  in the Exclusive Economic Zone off the southern cost of Cyprus.

I leave unanswered the legitimate query whether Ankara would suddenly have turned “peacemonger”, were the hydrocarbons discovered off the northern shores of Cyprus, except to repeat that for decades Ankara’s thesis has been that the issue had been resolved by the 1974 “peace operation”. The currently advocated win-win peace scenario, is that with the hydrocarbons as “glue”and the concurrent crises in the Middle East and now in the Ukraine (where the energy issue acquires added security significance) posing unpredictable dangers, a Western sponsored sub-regional security system can be constructed in the Eastern Mediterranean that will partner Cyprus, Israel, Turkey and Greece. Such a development would be most welcomed. But for such a security regime to be viable it must have legitimacy. And as such it can only be based  on reciprocity, equality, and respect and must be compatible with the existing European legal, political and civil order. No hegemons need apply. Hic Rhodus, hic salta.


Hermes said...

I read this a few days ago. It was a good article.

The article in the LRB by Seymour Hersch on Turkey providing the Syrian rebels with Sarin is explosive. Predictably, the US and Turkey have come out with denials.


John Akritas said...

Even if the Turks didn't stage the gas attack; everyone knows – including the Americans, seemingly – that the Turks are engaged in a dirty war in Syria with one of its primary objectives to get the Americans to commit their forces to overthrow Assad.

John Akritas said...

I meant to ask you, H – I've virtually given up following Greek politics, but have noticed the emergence of this Potami party. On the surface, it seems to me to be a fairly wishy-washy bourgeois party. Is there anything substantial to it?

Hermes said...

You are quite right in giving up on Greek politics.

There are many theories about Potami. The journo behind it is the typical Centre-Left type, superficial analysis made to look somewhat probing, but ultimately in the service of his masters. But, whatever its true purpose, it is taking away more votes from the odious SYRIZA than ND, and it may help, to keep them out of power. Although, ND is not ideal, better them than SYRIZA.

Ultimately, Greece, like every Western democracy needs a sensible social democratic/centre-Left party of some sort to balance and oppose the potential excesses of the Right. PASOK is finished. And Elia looks like it will not get off the ground. I am not sure if Potami can be that, but it is a tentative step in the right direction.

These days I spend more of my time researching the Enlightenment in Greece. The Cypriot Paschalis Kitromolides has just released his magnus opus, Enlightenment and Revolution in English which should be a great read.

John Akritas said...

Anything that diminishes the chances of Syriza gaining power must be a good thing.

I've heard of Kitromilides without having read him. The book on the Greek Enlightenment looks very interesting. This is a good site for downloading (often obscure/hard to get) books as PDFs/ePUBs, etc, which has a couple of Kitromilides titles, including his book on Venizelos: http://bookza.org

Hermes said...

You know I became more interested in the Greek Enlightenment when I recently saw the Greek Independence Day remembrance at the White House. I know it happens every year but I find it a scandal that a priest leads the event as a sort of ethnic leader. It is a little different in Australia but their role is too prominent in ethnic affairs (note, I have not problem if they want to be representatives of religious affairs). Also, the Americans and others must laugh. Aren't we mature enough to have a secular ethnic leader and not a cleric? I think Kitromilides's book will help to understand this problem.

Here is Kitromilides at the recent Stavros Niarchos lecture discussing the transition from Empire to Nation. He has the good sense to recognise that Nationalism, in the liberal sense, has been incredibly beneficial for nations to pursue self determination.


I also strongly recommend Gregory Jusdanis's Necessary Nation. Great book with a similar thesis. And a lovely chap. I had a few drinks with him and he was very gracious with his time.

Loukas Leon said...

@John: do you have a PDF version of Byron's War? Have you read it? Is it any good?

@Hermes: could you please elaborate on what you mean by "Nationalism, in the liberal sense"? I'll watch that lecture when I get the time.

John Akritas said...

H: A good talk. Kitromilides is very impressive. It's an interesting point about the church in America. I wonder if it doesn't have something to do with the desperate desire of Greek Americans to fit in and one of the best ways they can do this is to stress their Christianity. 'Look, I might have a funny name, darker skin, eat strange food, but I am a Christian, just like you.'

LL: I only have it in book form. I was supposed to review it; but haven't even got round to finishing it yet. It's not that good. Beaton's book on Seferis is much more interesting. I can't quite remember why I didn't like the Byron book, though I do remember being swayed by Beaton's argument that Byron was not that interested in Greece and it was all sorts of circumstances rather than passionate dedication that found him in the middle of the Greek War of Independence. This demythologisation is useful. If you go here, Beaton has written a summary of his argument in the book:


Loukas Leon said...

Thanks for the link.

Hermes said...

Loukas when thinking about liberal nationalism I am thinking about Rouseau, Mazzini, Weber, Venizelos, Platiras, Papandreou (the grandfather).

John Akritas said...

Kitromilides in his lecture touches on the nature of liberal nationalism, which he links to self-determination and modernisation, as opposed to the more vulgar, xenophobic forms of nationalism, associated with the extreme right and characterises, for example, Golden Dawn, etc.

Loukas Leon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Akritas said...

It's really the theme of his entire talk and it's not that unique an argument. In fact, listening to a bit of the lecture again – from 40mins on – he says the vulgar nationalism in Greece's case is not necessarily linked to the right but is characteristic of the nationalism of Pasok and Andreas Papandreou.

It is interesting, in Cyprus' case, that nationalism – even though it was anti-colonial – was conservative and led by conservative elements in society – the church and rightist figures like Grivas. Yet even though it was conservative, it also brought modernity to Cyprus. It's a myth that the British brought modernity to Cyprus. They were scared of modernity because modernity would challenge their rule. Modernity only properly came to Cyprus after independence.

Hermes said...

Loukas, when we discuss the historical role of clerics and the Church in national struggles; specifically, 1821, we should be careful and not rely on the simplistic self interested tripe dished out by the Church and its supporters. The Patriarcheio or the official Church was hostile to any revolutionary activity. In fact, despite early on being a catalyst for new knowledge into the Greek world through people like Mosiodax and other clerics, by about 1790 they became dead against Enlightenment ideas, even by some of the clerics who were originally innovators, because they realised some of the ideas were a challenge to its position. Please look up people like Athanasios Parios.

Of course, there were many individual clerics who interestingly went against the official Church like Diakos and Papaflessas. Many of them were members of the Friendly Society. They worked tireslessly, and some even gave their lives, for Greek freedom. But they were acting against the wishes of the official Church.

By the way, the number of 6,000 clerics dying for Greek freedom is often brought up. I challenge you to find a non-Church source for this number?

Putting the above aside, even if the Church and all of its priests worked for Greek freedom, does that mean that almost 200 years later they should still be acting as ethnic leaders? Perpetuating a modern day Millet system? In the intervening period many things have happened like science and Darwinism, broad electoral franchise, rise of nation-states, decreasing religious belief etc. and so should they be ethnic representatives?

And how can they act as ethnic representatives, when they espouse a universalist dogma which in practice is increasingly seeking more believers regardless of ethnic identity, rather seeking to Hellenise Greeks? Just go to almost all parish in America and see what language the liturgy is in?

John, did the Conservative elements in Cypriot society bring modernity, or was the coming of modernity simply coincident with their rule?

John Akritas said...

Not too sure of the distinction you’re making.

The paradox of British colonial rule is that while it launched modernity, it also had to hold it back because modernity would have challenged colonial rule. For example, while schooling and literacy took off under the British, secondary education was limited and higher education non-existent. (Obviously, the British feared not only what would be taught in these institutions but the creation of a student body that might oppose their rule). The same goes for mass media, political parties, trade unions and so on. The British allowed these institutions but clamped down on them and suppressed them when they became a threat.

So, I suppose you could argue that Cyprus’ post-independence rulers didn’t initiate modernity, but completed the project. Of course, the other paradox is that even though the dominant political figure in Cyprus post independence was Makarios – head of a conservative institution, the church – his governments’ policies paved the way for Cyprus to rapidly progress socially and economically. Maybe we should distinguish between Makarios as archbishop and Makarios as president. In the latter guise, Makarios was a (self-declared) social democrat and moderniser.

Hermes said...

John, I did not make my comment in reference to the British. What I was trying to say was, that most of the Western world was becoming Modern and progressive during the 20th century. Was Cyprus just simply caught up in this wave with the Conservative elements simply facilitating it or were they a catalyst?

John Akritas said...

I don’t think it’s that clear cut. There’s a favourite argument by Cypriot sociologists that the Enosis movement as led by the right and the church was a reaction to the rise of communist AKEL on the island and the challenge it posed to the church’s political authority. In this respect, I suppose, you could argue that the right/church stood against modernism. One of the arguments the British tried to use against enosis was why would you, Cypriots, want to unite with a country less developed, economically and socially, than Britain, which spawned the famous slogan: ‘Την Ελλάδα θέλομεν, κι ας τρώμε πέτρες’. Again, another suggestion that Cyprus doesn’t fit well into the nationalism as a harbinger of modernism paradigm – unless by modernism we deemphasise things like social and economic progress and stress other modernist values to do with self-determination, identity, liberty and so on.

Loukas Leon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hermes said...

On the Ionian Islands, the French and later the British were important modernisers. The French in helping to tear down the Greco-Venetian nobility and their rights and the British in building infrastructure. Also, they both helped to end some of the feudal practices of the Church. However, they were also important factors in resisting modernisation because they delayed unification with the Fatherland, favoured certain islands over others through unequal representation and distribution and even entrenched the privileges of certain social classes. Also, and similarly to be argument above, perhaps the Ionian Islands would have modernised anyway without the British.

Loukas Leon said...

@Hermes: a real 'ethnic leader' >

Η αλήθεια για το 1821

a bad joke >

link 1

link 2

Hermes said...

Loukas, Xrysi Avgi is really embarrassing. The antithesis of an ethnic leader.

Cynic said...

An overall good article despite some weird vocabulary choices (cratocidal?! yeah, Greece gave birth to civilization, its language is omnipresent etc..., but he should focus more on getting his point across).

The following excerpt though is disappointing. It's a recurring theme by most Greek analysts, so I'll try to address it:

"Are the Turks some sort of “holy cow” in the western family? Are the West’s leaders onto something about the Turks that they selfishly keep to themselves?"

No, they are not. No it's not a secret. The fact is simple: Ever since the English/Americans defeated the communists/left by supporting Nazi collaborators/right in the aftermath of WW2 in Greece, they "own" the place. They bought and paid for it. And when a former servant got "uppity", like George Papandreou (the so-called "Γέρος της Δημοκρατίας") ignoring Johnson's orders regarding Cyprus, they simply replaced him.

Maybe a parallel could be seen regarding Karamanlis junior, his stance on Cyprus/FYROM, and his fall from power.

So no, there is nothing "special" about the Turks. They just aren't completely subservient to foreign powers.

Loukas Leon said...

Hermes, my previous comment wasn't up for debate.

You may think GD is embarrassing and that Mihaloliakos is the "antithesis" of an ethnic leader; leading Greek heart surgeons and important military figures think otherwise:


Members of the family of Solomos Solomou think otherwise also.

You get the picture.