By George Koumoullis
DEFICIENT education and the fabrication of history still remain key features of Cypriot society. The student finishing state secondary school does not know, for example, that every archbishop during Ottoman rule was a quisling who co-operated with the rulers for the promotion of their mutual financial interest. What they believe instead is that the Church was running Greek schools in secret and other such fairy tales.
Even today we refer to the “coup of July 15” when in reality it was a Greek invasion. We always avoid (the reasons are for a psychiatrist to explain) calling a spade a spade. Admittedly it was not a conventional invasion in the sense that Greece used the army, navy and air-force to take over Cyprus. This was not necessary because the Greek government fully controlled the National Guard and, through this and ELDYK (the Greek army contingent), it overthrew the lawful government of the country and appointed a new president and ministers of its choice.
In essence, what took place was de facto enosis which was aborted by the Turkish invasion of five days later. If Turkey had not invaded, we would have become just another district of Greece with particular and unique characteristics. Instead of having a district officer we would have had a president of the republic, appointed by Athens and instead of a district council we would have had a council of ministers. In other words, Cyprus would be a puppet state, with all power and sovereignty residing with Brigadier Demetris Ioannides, a brutal, paranoid dictator, known for his anti-Turkish feelings and for the creation of a modern concentration camp – Giaros – the Dante-style freakishness of which nobody should ignore.
Under such a regime, it is self-evident that Cypriots would have suffered, especially the Turkish Cypriots, and this was what was underlined very correctly by Mustafa Akinci when he spoke about the invasion, a few weeks ago. And if we think about the issue soberly and objectively, what government – Turkish, British, Russian, American, or other – burdened with the responsibility of the security of the Turkish Cypriot community, would have left this community at the mercy of a fascist, an arch torturer-murderer, a psychopath and an executioner of Greek Cypriots?
So it was no surprise, therefore, that from a legal standpoint, all political analysts of that time considered the Turkish invasion an inevitable consequence of the Greek invasion, especially as the right of unilateral intervention derived (as much as we do not like it) from the Treaty of Guarantee of 1960. And no state condemned the Turkish invasion. Even in the UN resolution 353, issued on July 20, 1974, there was no reference to a “Turkish invasion” (these two words were not mentioned) but called for the “immediate termination of the foreign military intervention in the Cyprus Republic”, alluding thus also to the unlawful involvement of Greece. Consequently, anyone would have great difficulty effectively countering Akinci’s argument that the invasion of July 1974 prevented the consolidation of the illegal coupist regime and de facto enosis.
Akinci had said that after the pain suffered by the Turkish Cypriots in the 1950s and ‘60s, the Greek Cypriot community, because of the Greek junta, suffered the most from the tragedy of 1974. Not only is there nothing reprehensible in this ascertainment but, on the contrary, there is courage in the admission of a bitter truth. Of course, many Greek Cypriots expected Akinci to be more critical with regard to the invasion and to have censured the brutality of the invasion which caused thousands of deaths, a couple of hundred thousand refugees, widespread destruction and the ethnic cleansing of the northern part of Cyprus.
There are some journalists who see nothing positive in Akinci and dismiss as ‘Greek speakers’ those of us who consider him an internationalist and believe he has the flexibility to reach an agreement. The implication is that we are not true, patriotic Greeks but just speak the language. Unfortunately, these journalists, one of whom resides and works from the US, do not use arguments to support their positions but resort to dogmatism and abuse.
Despite all this, let us assume our evaluation of Akinci was wrong, which is entirely possible. When someone makes a mistake in his evaluation of the Turkish Cypriot leader’s intentions, is he a “Greek speaker”? Regrettably, some journalists are stoking their lack of perspective, their audacity, insolence and vulgarity. This is reminiscent of the prevailing climate in Cyprus during the junta years – whoever was mildly critical of the junta was dismissed as a “Greek speaker” and became a pariah of the Greek Cypriot community.
This was how low we sunk during the 1967-74 period. In the end, as we all know, it was the self-proclaimed ‘pure’ Hellenes that handed half of Cyprus to the Turkey on a plate. O tempora o mores, Cicero would have exclaimed if he had been living in Cyprus in these last decades.
It seems that when a journalist lives in the most powerful country in the world and enjoys its wealth and security, he is transformed into a fanatic nationalist and urges the Greek Cypriots to fight “till death” from the safety of thousands of miles away – developing into one of those no-risk, smart guys as Andreas Vgenopoulos would say.
George Koumoullis is an economist and social scientist