Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Contradictions, Conflicts and Paradoxes: a framework for a Cyprus solution, by Nikos Kotzias

Below is a piece by Greece’s new foreign minister Nikos Kotzias on Cyprus, taken from here. It’s from 2007 and is somewhat dated, but indicates Kotzias has good knowledge of the issues.

Contradictions, Conflicts and Paradoxes: a framework for a Cyprus solution
In the spirit of this project, I will try to think outside the box about the future of Cyprus. A future solution for Cyprus could be based on four different models, The first possible solution might be a “velvet divorce”, based on the Czechoslovak model. The second option is the consolidation of the status quo, which could lead to a situation similar to Taiwan. The third option, which is largely the Annan Plan option, can be referred to as the Bosnian model. Finally, the fourth option, which contains elements from the Belgian model and other similar arrangements can be described as the “modern federation”model. Up to now, discussions have been geared more towards the first three models and less towards the fourth model.

The “modern federation”, in my view, would maximise opportunities for Cyprus as a whole as well as for both communities on the island. Nevertheless, if the “modern federation” solution is not acceptable to the relevant actors, the first solution, that of the velvet divorce, appears the most realistic option and preferable to the status quo.

In this paper, I will first examine the feasibility and desirability of each approach. In the second part, I turn to the problem of minorities in Cyprus and examine ways in which the political recognition of minorities could contribute to reaching an alternative solution.

Finally, I highlight the reasons why the deadlock in intercommunal relations is mistakenly attributed to the political problem in Cyprus, whereas in fact it is due to the regime of guarantees established under the 1960 settlement which are still in force.

Paradoxes and Alternative Models Velvet Divorce on the Czechoslovak model: The first possible solution could be the division of the territory through a velvet divorce, based on the Czechoslovak model; in other words, the recognition of northern Cyprus as a separate state, in exchange for the return of territory to the Republic of Cyprus. Under this proposition, the territorial settlement outlined in the Annan Plan could be useful, particularly the proposals prior to the fifth version of the plan. As a pre-condition for this first solution, the EU would accept that the new state under the control of the Turkish-Cypriots immediately becomes a member: the two Cypriot communities will be together in the EU under the same obligations and immediately under the regime of the four Freedoms.

I am well aware that a clearheaded discussion of a solution along these lines is difficult in the present circumstances. Indeed, it could be argued that this solution requires the legal recognition of a situation which was caused by the illegal invasion and the ensuing occupation of northern Cyprus in the first place. This is obviously very difficult for the Greek-Cypriots to accept, especially those dislocated from their homes in the north. Last but not least, if the northern area of Cyprus manages to survive with the support of the Republic of Cyprus and of the EU, Turkey risks the chance of losing overall control even in the northern part of Cyprus.

A series of political paradoxes explain why, despite the various objections to a “velvet divorce”, many in both Cypriot communities are in favour of this solution (as was the case in Czechoslovakia), especially if it were to guarantee the interests of northern Cyprus vis à vis the EU. First, the invasion and subsequent occupation of northern Cyprus by the Turkish military authorities have to some extent “homogenised” the Republic of Cyprus further. Despite the constraining clauses contained in the 1959 Zurich Accords, the Republic of Cyprus has acquired total control over all the territory that was not occupied. In other words, territorial limitations in turn have actually made territorial sovereignty in some way absolute (so far it is possible inside the EU and under the conditions of the Globalisation), thus completing the process launched by the Greek-Cypriots right after 1963 - though at considerable cost. On the contrary, specific proposals for the unification of Cyprus, including the fifth version of the Annan plan, could dramatically limit the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus, particularly if the clauses concerning the intervening role of the guarantor powers came into effect. It is reasonable to assume that the Greek-Cypriots would also have to share power with the Turkish-Cypriots. Paradoxically, because of the occupation of one-third of the territory, the Republic of Cyprus has gained the greatest possible control over the remaining unoccupied part of its territory, and thus both “full” sovereignty and security.

Secondly, for a number of years a large part of the Turkish leadership and military authorities have unequivocally declared their intention to annex northern Cyprus into Turkey, or proceed with its formal international recognition, unless the Republic of Cyprus agrees to their demands.

Thirdly, the Turkish-Cypriot community is more attached to the unification of Cyprus as this would result in their immediate entry into the EU, the withdrawal of the bulk of Turkish troops from northern Cyprus and improved economic prospects. Paradoxically, precisely because the fifth version of the Annan Plan contained more concessions to the Turkish-Cypriots than any of the previous versions, this had the effect of blocking their most important objective – the unification of Cyprus and entry into the EU. This paradox was caused both by constant interventions by the Turkish military establishment while negotiations were being held between the third and fifth version of the Annan plan, and the absence of any counter-intervention by the Greek side to redress the balance and ultimately prevent the Annan Plan from being rejected.

Maintenance of the status quo according to the Taiwan model: A second possible solution to the Cyprus problem is the “wait and see” approach premised on the tolerance of the status quo by political forces on the island and their primarily concern with the idea of restoration. However, in the current era of globalisation and rapid change the rejections of various potential solutions on the ground that they are not the best possible solutions — unless this goes hand in hand with an adoption of the “Czechoslovak model” — could pave the way to a worsening of the situation. The status quo is no second best solution for two reasons.

First and perhaps paradoxically, in recent years, the Republic of Cyprus has achieved a relative economic miracle. Having successfully integrated into international markets, especially in the fields of banking, services, public works and tourism, the Republic of Cyprus cannot be totally exempt from the general tendency towards secession of resourceful regions from nation states. This is a by-product of globalisation. In the internationalist era, the creation of new nation states was primarily a consequence of the secession of poor provinces from empires, so that national elites in these areas could create their own markets and systems of governance. In the era of globalisation, this tendency is accompanied by a parallel trend towards the secession or demands thereof of rich regions from nation states (such as the Czech Republic from Czechoslovakia, Slovenia from Yugoslavia, northern Italy from the rest of the country, Catalonia from Spain, and so on). Rich regions no longer regard the unified, local state as the only source of cheap labour, essential resources, or geo-strategic advantage. More accurately, they no longer view the state solely from this perspective. On the contrary, they regard the state as a burden – a place where they must “sacrifice” a percentage of their budget under worse conditions than in the international market. Relatively cheap resources – once only available domestically – can now be acquired at better rates in the global market, which offers low-priced primary resources, new materials, and lower labour costs. So the Greek-Cypriots’ will to pay for the unification with north Cyprus is not as strong as it was in the past.

Second, those among the voters who objected to the Annan Plan on the grounds that it granted too many favourable concessions to Turkish-Cypriots, have essentially “dug their own grave”, because circumstances cannot remain static until the next round of negotiations. Significant changes have already taken place since the rejection of the Annan Plan, with mostly negative consequences for Greek-Cypriots. For instance, more and more Turkish-Cypriots are moving to the south of the island, where they are calling for recognition of their rights and benefits as the Republic’s citizens. At least 78,000 Turkish-Cypriots have acquired Cypriot passports or IDs and are therefore entitled to social welfare, healthcare, and pensions, even though the majority do not pay taxes. Some of them have claimed the return of their property. At the same time, the number of Turkish settlers in northern Cyprus is increasing; northern Cyprus faces the threat of becoming more and more of a Turkish colony, to the detriment of all Cypriots and the Republic of Cyprus. It is therefore obvious that the status quo is untenable.

The Bosnian Solution and the Annan Plan: A third possible solution to the Cyprus problem would be the implementation of the basic principles of the fifth version of the Annan Plan, along the lines of the Bosnian model. In my opinion, the premise of such a solution would be an attempt to create a unified state through formal processes, but in such a way that it would maintain ethnic differences, without creating bridges to transcend those differences. However, in today’s globalised world citizens are not only defined by their nationality; they have multiple identities. They might be Turkish-Cypriot or Greek-Cypriot, but at the same time they have different social, cultural, and political identities. They might be citizens on the left or the right, employees or owners of companies. All over Europe, a heated debate is taking place about the hierarchy of identities - for example, whether citizens are first British then Muslim, or first French then Arabs. Yet the Annan Plan approaches the Cypriots from a one-dimensional perspective, as members of two distinct communities, rather than as citizens of Cyprus. Any genuinely democratic and viable solution to the Cyprus problem must forge links between the two communities beyond institutional links – links that will encourage a process of osmosis and social fusion.

I fear that the Annan Plan will be dysfunctional as it provides the explosive potential to break up the Republic of Cyprus, without any safety valves. For instance, it inhibits the revision of the Constitution by either community, which serves the interests of third parties to leave the establishment intact, rather than serving the interests and policies of the citizens of Cyprus. The architects of the Annan Plan intended to create a legal framework that could be amended, even if the majority of Cypriots on all sides agreed upon this. Nevertheless, banning constitutional amendments does not prevent real changes from taking place. In the case of Cyprus it simply impeded the process as the Treaty of Establishment of 1959 did not equally provide for adequate democratic procedures for amendments, i.e. agreed by both communities. As a result, instead of problems being solved by constitutional means conflict became the only means of breaking the deadlock, through ethnic cleansing, bombing campaigns, an Athens-instigated military coup against Archbishop Makarios and the Turkish military invasion followed by occupation.

In short, a new solution for Cyprus must include the basic democratic right of all Cypriots to amend their own Constitution, with increased majorities and the approval of both communities, as well as other interest groups such as minorities. A creative solution must provide for a process of cross-cultural cooperation and social fusion in Cyprus, a process of unification no longer defined only by ethnic identity and dividing lines, but also by community interests and social or political strategies. These would create opportunities for new alliances and agreements, as we propose in the fourth and final possible solution.

It is worth noting that the Annan Plan is also dysfunctional because it frequently runs counter to past experiences in international affairs. This is especially evident in the clauses regarding shared institutions. In my analysis of the second model above, I referred to the new global tendency towards secession of the rich. This tendency would be exacerbated by the Annan Plan because it calls on the Greek-Cypriots not only to cover the costs of unification, and to accept responsibility for the economic deficits and budgetary requirements of a Turkish-Cypriot constituent state/entity within a unified Cyprus, but also to relinquish control of the Central Bank of Cyprus (CBC). A sixth version of the Annan Plan might be acceptable to a Greek majority, if it endorsed the old principle according to which, he who pays, enjoys rights. The American Revolution was staged under the banner “no taxation without representation”. The same principle guided the unification of Germany: the central bank of what was then West Germany was not subject to controls by East Germans or foreign bankers. On the contrary, the Annan Plan proposed for the shared control CBC, comprising a representative of the flourishing and financially successful Greek-Cypriot community, a representative of the impoverished Turkish-Cypriot community and a foreign representative.

One of the fundamental shortcomings of the Annan Plan is that in the name of the absolute equality of both communities, one community is called upon to subsidise the other without being granted the right to control the institution that will cover the costs. As with the case of minorities, discussed below, this goes against international standards and existing principles of state creation applied in other Western countries such as Germany and the United States. Obviously, if the CBC remained under Greek-Cypriot control it would be much easier for Greek-Cypriots to accept any future plan, whereas it would not be such an important point for the Turkish-Cypriot community. In a globalised world, it does not matter who issues the cheque, under whose name, but who cashes it. In short, the most important factor for the Turkish-Cypriots is not who signs off the transferral of funds from the Greek-Cypriot side to the Turkish-Cypriot side, but a guarantee that these funds will be duly transferred and collected by the Turkish-Cypriot constituent state/entity.

A “Post-modern” Federation: A fourth possible solution for Cyprus could lie beyond the “self-evident” notions that ruled the negotiations during the last 32 years and promote a new type of bi-zonal, bi-communal solution that would encourage cultural, political and social alliances, which go beyond ethnic dividing lines. Of course, any such solution cannot ignore the current situation, including the high level agreements of 1977 and 1979, the various plans already on the table, and the extent to which and means by which each of these proposed plans has been accepted by both communities. But even within this complex historical framework, and the negative commitments contained therein, there is still room for creative thinking.

The variations of the Annan Plan were all premised on two self-sufficient communities and two sub-state entities, which could only interact around the institutions of the centric Cypriot state. In addition, the Annan plan contained a multitude of transitional provisions that could impede osmosis between the two sides and the creation of a genuine common Cypriot state.

The Annan Plan finally aimed at the social separation of the two communities rather than enforcement by the central organs and institutions. If such a model were to be endorsed, the first option of a “velvet divorce” would appear to be more preferable for all the Cypriots, along with some of the proposals outlined in the other three models suggested in this paper.

I believe there is a strategy for Cyprus that would contribute to positive progress and provide long term democratic stability guaranteeing at the same time fundamental rights and generating creative potential for all citizens from both communities. In my opinion, the key to such a solution is the guaranteed existence of a constituent state/entity for each community, through which the central state apparatus would operate and the equality of Turkish-Cypriots and Greek-Cypriots would be recognised. Although this solution will be difficult to achieve, it remains the only viable solution (along with the first model outlined above); the second and third models would inevitably be short-lived.

Three additional factors should be taken into consideration to make this model more viable.

The first factor is the minorities living in Cyprus discussed below, the second factor is the creation of a common federal state shared by both Greek and Turkish-Cypriots (and whoever else is willing to participate), beyond the creation of two territorially separate states. This federated state could be established in the city of Nicosia, with equal participation by both communities, not only in numbers but also in practice. In today’s united Europe, it is a political shame that Nicosia, the most politically and socially developed city in Cyprus, remains divided. This should not be the case in a reunited Cyprus. As the vital capital of the Republic of Cyprus, Nicosia could play a similar role to that of Brussels in Belgium. As a result, the domestic policies of the Nicosia entity would increasingly reflect the various political and social identities of its residents, not just their ethnic identity. The inhabitants of such a capital city would develop a strong sense of both Cypriot and European identity. The EU and the United Nations must recognise that the citizens of Nicosia cannot be defined exclusively in terms of the ethnic community to which they belong; otherwise, we would have to resort to the first model – the deliberate, premeditated divorce. On the other hand, the creation of a bi-communal zone in Nicosia would automatically change the way new institutional mechanisms are established in Cyprus, as well as their composition. Since some people are sceptical about the possibility that such a “unified” solution based on the Brussels model could be accepted, two sub-systems could be established in the city – one for each community – for a limited transitional period.

The third factor is the establishment of three or four regions within the two constituent entities/states of the federation, which would operate both as sub-systems of the authorities of the federal states/entities from the Republic of Cyprus as well as from other independent bodies. As such, they could undertake joint initiatives, not just within their own communities but also with other neighbouring regions. Neighbouring regions that belong to different constituencies (for instance, Morphou and Paphos in western Cyprus) often have greater common interests than regions in the east and west of the same constituent state/entity. This could also provide a framework to resolve the governance of the Karpasia region

This model opens up the possibility of a democratic, unified, and federal Cyprus, organised through a system that operates on multiple levels. Representatives of the constituent states representing each of the two communities could participate at the level of the federal government. Alongside this, there could be a third, mixed constituent state based in Nicosia. Wherever a problem of imbalance arises additional emphasis could be given to the participation of minorities whose independent rights of representation would be guaranteed in all other cases. Below the federal level, a system of regions could be created. These regions, possibly eight or ten altogether (plus two from Nicosia) could reserve the right to take action within their constituent state with relative autonomy, provided they are in accordance with the federal constitution. This would encourage political alliances combining regional and nationwide social issues, so that the future of Cyprus would not be heavily influenced by pressing ethnic demands. In addition to these ten regions, an eleventh independent body for minorities could also be established. In such a federation, federal laws on issues specified by the Federal Constitution would outweigh community laws and there would be clear guarantees for the Republic of Cyprus concerning implementation of the solutions outlined in the agreements, particularly for the transitional period.

This model could create opportunities to develop common approaches and interests among different sections of the Cypriot society on the basis of regional cooperation. In turn, this could lead to the formulation of common social and political interests, as well as common social and political leaders.

However, the fourth model is only a meaningful option if one looks forward to a Cyprus that is not merely united through formal legal and constitutional mechanisms, but is united in substance. This means a thoroughly demilitarised Cyprus with no foreign troops stationed on its soil and no right of intervention by any foreign powers, whether they are labelled as guarantor powers or other incidental ones. This means a Cyprus that takes into account the different identities of contemporary society (religious, ethnic, national, regional, European, social, political) and aims to bridge the divide between Cypriots who belong to different ethnic communities without undermining their own particular identity, while guaranteeing equal rights and equal participation for all members of each community. That is why I call this model “the (post)-modern federal solution”.

I argue that this proposal could provide a genuine alternative to the Annan Plan without undermining the unity or jeopardising the interests of either community. It could be reached by combining the traditional route of reaching an agreement between the Greek and Turkish-Cypriot communities, the guarantor powers, the United Nations and the EU and the drafting of a new constitution in accordance with democratic principles. Thus any new plan (such as “Annan 6”) would guarantee equal democratic representation of all parties through a Constitutional Convention. If this strategy cannot be implemented, which is quite possible, priority should be given to the first model, the “velvet divorce”.

Institutional recognition of minority rights: a vital contribution to a sovereign Cyprus and an active EU member
I called the fourth model a (post-)modern federation because I believe that in the current context of globalisation it will be impossible to build a federal state in Cyprus which only recognises the rights of the Greek and Turkish-Cypriot communities. Until now, all parties involved in Cyprus fail to consider the presence of minorities on both sides of the island and systematically leave them out of any proposed solutions. I believe that the autonomy and independence of the Armenian, Latin and Maronite minorities must be recognised in Cyprus, as in any other modern state. In 1960, these minorities were forced to formally join one of the two recognised communities: the Greek and Turkish communities, according to the 1960 Constitution. They showed their preference to join the Greek-Cypriot community, a situation which was accepted without any further thought by the Annan Plan. As a result, their role in a possible solution for the island is consistently overlooked.

The three minority groups in Cyprus (and there are other minorities as well, not yet recognised by the constitution or international treaties) are, indeed, small. But they still deserve to be recognised as independent groups, rather than being assimilated with one of the two constitutionally accepted communities. The role of minorities in the solution to the Cyprus question should not be viewed only from the perspective of representative self-determination or at least the constitutional and international protection of minority rights.

Instead, it should be viewed as a positive factor that could help overcome various uncertainties concerning the balance of institutional power in a future united Cyprus. Moreover, since the EU recognises the participation of EU citizens in the affairs of European countries other than their own, nationals from other EU member states could also participate in local representative institutions in Cyprus in the future.

A solution in Cyprus requires solving an inherent contradiction: on the one hand, the Greek-Cypriot community cannot decide on the future of the whole state alone, without taking into consideration the real interests of the smaller Turkish-Cypriot community; on the other hand, the Turkish-Cypriot side should not have the exclusive right to veto, thus rendering the whole decision making system dysfunctional. The Annan Plan proposed as a solution for this contradiction, that foreign judges should be appointed to the Supreme Court of Cyprus. With six judges from each community and three appointees from other countries (as laid out in Annan V) judges from the two Cypriot communities could form a majority (such as seven versus five, four and three of each community, or vice versa) yet they could be overruled by the minority (three plus two or vice versa) if the three foreign judges sided with the minority. Thus, in an independent, sovereign state, the majority in the Supreme Court could be made up of outsiders. The same problem occurs in the Annan Plan with regard to other institutions such as the Repatriation Committee, the Property Court, and the Property Commission, which would all include foreign members unaccountable to the citizens of Cyprus, regardless of which community or minority they belong to.

With regards to the Supreme Court, the problem is magnified because it would not only arbitrate on legislative and constitutional issues but also be involved in political decisions in case of stalemate in the Presidential Council. Thus, the three foreign judges would not only be empowered to take decisions as the highest ranking legal arbiters, but would also comprise the highest political authority. Is this democratic? Would this be conducive to creating a sovereign Cyprus? What impact would a Supreme Court of this kind have on the EU, given that nationals from third countries would be able to decide whether and how Cyprus should vote in EU affairs?

A simple solution to this problem would be to ensure that these three judges would automatically become Cypriot citizens; however, this is not feasible in the Annan Plan as it stands because they would have to become simultaneously members of one or other of the two communities and take the internal citizenship of the constituent state, and therefore take sides. Alternatively, one of the Cypriot minorities could provide a seventh judge, or more radically, could be appointed as a member of the Presidential Council, to ensure it could not be blocked as with the proposed dysfunctional provisions. If this is thought to give minorities a disproportionate weight in the central decision making body, representatives from minority groups could instead comprise the third arm of the Supreme Court. No matter how small numerically the minorities are, they represent the reality of Cypriot society to a larger extent than foreign appointees who have never experienced Cyprus, except perhaps as visitors, and who, rightly or wrongly, can be perceived as agents of their original country.

My proposal therefore aims to strengthen the role of minorities, a positive presence that could play an active role in a united, democratic Cyprus. They could potentially help Cyprus overcome the status of protectorate which will be inevitable if foreign nationals and third parties can influence critical decision making bodies. This would in turn improve the functionality of the institutional system overall, and ensure that the Cypriot vote in the EU represents the will of the Cypriot people, and not the interests of a third party.

A bi-communal problem or a problem of guarantees?
Last but not least, I believe that one of the fundamental problems in Cyprus is not intercommunal relations per se, but the guarantor status of third countries, which undermines the sovereignty of the island (insofar as sovereignty can exist in the context of globalisation and European unification). Today, the Cyprus question is, of course, connected to antagonism between the two communities, but this is primarily a consequence of the Greek junta’s coup in Cyprus and the subsequent Turkish invasion – a fact that many Greeks tend to forget. On the other hand, the consequences of the coup were “cleansed” by the restoration of democracy to the Republic of Cyprus after 1974. On the contrary, the consequences of the Turkish occupation have multiplied, a fact that many Turks try to cover up. It is no coincidence that one of the most difficult and complex problems is the issue of settlers who were brought in to the island from Turkey after the invasion. This factor cannot be related to inter-communal relations but is a consequence of the protracted and ongoing Turkish occupation.

Furthermore, the stalemate in Cyprus is to a large extent a product of the positions and geostrategic interests of the Turkish military establishment a fact to keep in mind when advocating the fourth model which is predicated inter alia on the final withdrawal of Greek or Turkish troops. Yet, history has shown that the Turkish military has not defined Turkey’s interests in accordance with the views of the Turkish people let alone Turkish-Cypriots. Thus, when the Turkish army talks of the interests of the Turkish-Cypriots, it is really referring to its own interests. To a certain extent, the same applies to Greece (a fact borne out by the events of summer 1974), which is the reason why all Greek troops should also be withdrawn from the island.

Consequently, I believe that Turkey does not favour a fully independent Cyprus, since it places its strategic need to control Cyprus over and above the interests of the Cypriot people. This also explains why it is so difficult for Turkey to accept a real independent Cypriot state, without the intervention of foreign guarantor powers. From this perspective, one could conclude that the weakest element of the Annan Plan is that, with regard to the presence of foreign troops on the island, it puts the interests of the Turkish military authorities above the needs of the Turkish-Cypriot community. Many well-intentioned analysts may disagree, citing the fact that the Annan plan anticipates that after decades of occupation the number of Turkish troops remaining on the island would be significantly reduced. In any case, the distance between Turkey and Cyprus is so small that if Turkey maintained the status of guarantor power, it could intervene even if it did not have a single soldier stationed on Cyprus. Even a small military unit on Cyprus could act as a beachhead. Obviously, the presence of foreign troops — whether they are classified as an army of occupation or as a security guarantee — in an independent EU member state is fundamentally a political problem. We all know, for example, that after the reunification of Germany, Russia agreed to withdraw all its troops from the country.

Conclusion
In conclusion, I advocate a solution based on the fourth model, that of a (post-)modern federal solution. All sections of the population including the numerically least significant ones should have the right to participate in the state apparatus. Such a solution must be promoted through a democratic Constitutional Convention founded on international law and the European acquis, as well as respect for human rights. This solution will be based on the needs, will, and hopes of both communities in Cyprus, rather than the will, expediency, or interests of any guarantor powers. In this context, the principle of equality, the right of those who pay to make decisions, and the independent role of minorities, could all play a decisive part in the search for effective institutional solutions. Cyprus would have the same degree of sovereignty as all other EU member states in today’s globalised world, and nothing less; otherwise, the functionality of the EU, as well as the principle of justice, will be compromised.

Finally, if the fourth model is not feasible, the second best solution would be not a passive acceptance of the status quo based on the Taiwan model, but a velvet divorce, whereby territories are exchanged for recognition and there is still an EU future for the Turkish-Cypriots.

11 comments:

Hermes said...

John, I agree he seems to be across the issues (assuming he mainly wrote the piece). However, I do not share his enthusiasm for the post modern 4th solution. It suggests to me the gradual evolution of a Cypriot identity and the de-Hellenisation of the island, resembling how Walloons relate to French identity and how the French relate to them. The line about multiple identities is true but I suspect ethnic identity is always more fundamental than any other, and believing this is not true, is wishful thinking -which the Left is always susceptible.

Interested in your thoughts?

Hermes said...

I also noticed you are reading more Byzantine history. Kaldellis, author of Hellenism in Byzantium, has just published The Byzantine Republic which is likely to upset a few people.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Byzantine-Republic-People-Power/dp/0674365402

John Akritas said...

I agree Kotzias calling his solution ‘post-modern’ is off putting because, as you say, this conjures up leftist identity politics; but what he’s suggesting is quite close to a trend among more strident and nationalistic Greek Cypriots that rejects a bizonal bicommunal federation because it defines rights according to ethnicity – not citizenship – and gives excessive power to the Turkish minority.

This new Greek Cypriot thinking – still in the minority – is explained well in this video

If you put aside all the rhetoric about anti-racism, Martin Luther King, etc, I’m pretty sure Kyriakides in the video is aware that if you have a Cyprus in which ‘the two sides are not Greeks and Turks but citizens and the state’, then the 80 percent of the citizenry that is Greek will naturally dominate. I just can’t imagine – despite the efforts from the usual suspects – that Greek (or Turkish) identity on the island will be eroded by an outbreak of ‘Cypriotness’. Animosity between Greeks and Turks in Cyprus is strong.

Yes, I’ve been reading more Byzantine history and I’m now thinking of becoming a monk. As I get older and closer to death, Cavafy’s poem Manuel Komninos makes increasing sense.

What’s your take on the lunatics taking over the asylum? I thought it was inevitable. Samaras completely failed to renew bourgeois politics in Greece. On the brighter side, as a relative outsider, I think there might be quite a lot of comic value in a Syriza/ANEL government.

Hermes said...

I'll have to have a look at that video later. However, if this idea is so blatantly clear i.e. by recognising rights according to citizenship rather than ethnicity would ensure Greek domination of the island, then don't we think the Turks would be aware of that? It seems to me like the typical try hard sneaky Greek thinking which ends up biting us on our arse.

Personally, I am like alot of the French and French inspired academics that Byzantine history should be separated from religious history. We would not conflate a reading of Byzantine history with religiosity and specifically Orthodoxy. It was an important component but there was a lot more going on.

Samaras missed a great opportunity but he cannot remake the system when he is a product of it. He never took on the oligarchs and injustice to avoid handing political capital to the extremists. He also lacked the necessary charisma ala Weber to things done. He was exhausted by mid last year.

I'd like to give Syriza the benefit of the doubt but the signs are not encouraging at all. The comedy has already started. Dritsas said they will cancel the privatisation of the rest of the port of Pireaus - not a good sign to much needed foreign capital. And Tsipras’s words regarding sanctions against Russia is straight out of the Andrea playbook.

Kammenos is a nutjob but he might help to “protect” the armed forces from more unionisation and drastic cuts. However, I don’t think the relationship between Syriza and ANEL will last long (see note later for how the government can survive if this happens). In the meantime, the association with Kammenos might see some of the more radical elements of Syriza and their vote drift away. Actually, I think Tsipras will prefer this. Sometimes elements in your own party are worse enemies than other parties. What Tsipras wants are old PASOKis to drift over. Putting Dragasakis in such a prominent position is Tsipras signalling, “Come over an join us”. By cancelling privatisations and trying to re-nationalise assets (with what money?) he is hoping the PASOK people can help him reconstitute the old PASOK state.

Not surprisingly, ERT will reopen and journos will get their jobs back. Of course, they will be eternally grateful to Tsipras for this and so expect hagiographies of Greece’s newest Saint after the con man Paisios.

Disappointingly, the hard Left Syriza moron, Lafazanis has been made Minister of Energy and Industry. Forget about any participation of the private sector and foreign capital.
But a reasonable decision was to make Kotzia foreign minister. outdated).

Generally, things do not look good so far. And do not expect cancellation of debt and nor should they. If Greece's debt is cut then that means other state's net debt rises. Why would they allow that? The best they can hope for is an even more concessionary interest rate or extension.

Anonymous said...

The author wrote this in 2007 before the GFC of 2008 and the related problems in Cyprus a little later.

Seeing he makes some comments on Cyprus being a modern economic miracle, I daresay some of his beliefs have been shaken, if not altered.

Savvas Tziwnhs

John Akritas said...

A withering critique of Kotzias: http://www.sigmalive.com/opinions/giannos-charalampidis/764/to-ethnos-ton-kyprillidon-kai-i-vavylonia-tou-kotzia

Hermes said...

http://www.kathimerini.gr/803353/article/politismos/polh/otan-o-almper-kami-oneireyotan-mia-allh-zwh-sto-sigri-ths-lesvoy

I never knew Camus went to Greece.

John Akritas said...

I’m pretty sure I’ve got a book somewhere of Camus essays and lectures, some of which were given in Athens, so I knew about Camus visiting Greece, though not the particular trip he took to Lesvos, which is interesting. Varoufakis recently said Germany was a ‘spiritual home’ for Greeks. Of course, this is bollocks – and, to be fair, V. was just trying to flatter our Nazi overlords. It’s actually French thought – in politics, culture, etc – that has had most impact on Greece and Greek intellectuals; so Camus’ love of Greece is not surprising.

Hermes said...


Yes, I have said if you want to understand 20th century Greek culture including political culture, you have to try and understand France.

By the way, the British School at Athens has uploaded another set of videos on youtube. The British are annoying but some of them are good.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJLq-d0Q3Upn28hO5UWptmw

Hermes said...

New book just published, Fighting EOKA: The British Counter-Insurgency Campaign on Cyprus, 1955-1959

http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780198729341.do

John Akritas said...

Yes, I noticed this book was coming out. I don't know anything about the author. I'm pretty sure I know why the conflict on the island took place: the Greeks were imbued and inspired by the ideals they saw represented by the 300, 1821, 1940, etc; while the British were aware that their empire – their prestige and influence – was crumbling and Cyprus was as good a place as any to make a last stand.