“Fake news” is a concept that has been introduced into our daily lives via social media such as Facebook relatively recently. The idea, however, is much older. Earlier, it was known as All Fools’ Day. These stories were originally confined to a single day in a calendar year and they were laid out in such a way that it was almost evident that they were a kind of a joke. As a rule, fools’ day stories did not cause any harm.
Unfortunately, the morality of those days has vanished. Today, fake news aims at misleading and disorienting people, at serving selfish interests and at causing harm. Furthermore, fake news – in contrast to fools’ day stories – is difficult to detect and neutralise. It is for this very reason that fake news is potentially harmful.
Much more dangerous, however, is fake logic. My definition of “fake logic” is the layout of seemingly irrefutable arguments, which, in reality, are groundless and shaky and, as a consequence, lead to incorrect conclusions.
A specific example of false logic is the patriotic speech of Nicos Kotzias, the Greek foreign minister, at an event organised by the Federation of Cypriot American Organisations in New York to honour the minister for his “solid patriotism”. The essence of Kotzias’ position on the Cyprus problem is that we must demand the immediate abolition of all foreign “guarantees” and the immediate withdrawal of all foreign troops from Cyprus, in order for Cyprus to become – at last – a normal state. In his speech, Mr Kotzias emphasised that “defending international law and justice is a patriotic act”, particularly in view of “the nationalism, the anachronistic behaviour and the extremism exhibited by Turkey, which aims at prolonging the occupation of an independent country, at exercising control and maintaining rights of intervention over that country”.
The minister carried on: “Over the past 43 years, Turkish Cypriots live in a region of Cyprus that is occupied by a foreign army, the Turkish army. The current population of this region is 220,000 people of whom only 95,000 are Turkish Cypriots, who are purportedly protected by an occupying force of 43,000 soldiers” …
“The fact is that Turkish governments have never respected the provisions of international agreements. They have violated the rights of those living on the island of Imvros and, as a result, thousands of Turkish settlers live, today, on the island, its Greek population having been confined to 300 souls. …
“The Greek Cypriot side has been stressing and continues to stress – along with me – that the problem of Cyprus is a problem of occupation by a foreign power, which has forced thousands of Cypriots to acquire the status of a refugee in their own country. In the past two-and-a-half years I have been underlining the need to allow Cyprus to become a normal state.”
At this point in his New York speech, Kotzias outlined a solution of the Cyprus problem, which he claimed has been adopted by the secretary-general of the United Nations, who side-stepped the pro-Turkish (per the minister’s assessment) recommendations of his special advisor in Cyprus.
And he carried on, in a flamboyant and emphatic style, to state: “As soon as the SG presented his plan, I took the floor first and confirmed agreement of Greece with the plan. I spoke at length on these proposals and supplemented them with specific suggestions” (presumably, Kotzias was referring to his non-negotiable insistence on “no guarantees and no foreign troops in Cyprus from day one of the implementation of an agreed solution”).
And he continued: “Unfortunately, the floor was then taken by a third party, who disorganised the discussion… We will continue our struggle, as destined to do. At the end, the atrocities committed against international law, the United Nations’ principles and the rights of all Cypriots will not be allowed to continue. Cyprus will live forever and will continue to march through history, proud of Aphrodite’s beauty. And I will feel proud for having been part of this beautiful process.”
I ask you Mr Kotzias: In the past 70 years – or, at least, over the past two-and-a-half years in the course of which you have been serving as the Greek foreign minister – have you detected an intention on the part of any country in the world to clash with Turkey (which, according to your assessment is unreliable and will never back down) in order to force her to accept the solution of the Cyprus problem, which you have in mind?
If your response to this critical question is a negative one, have your assistants bothered to advise you that the turkification of north Cyprus has reached an advanced stage of completion and is likely to be concluded in the near future?
If your response to my second question is affirmative (based on the contents of your speech in New York, it appears that it will be), can you, please, explain how you intend to force the acceptance of the solution of the Cyprus problem which you have devised, and how will you do it in a relatively short period of time (prior to the completion of the turkification process, which will soon become irreversible in the same fashion which you yourself highlighted in your speech in connection with the island of Imvros)?
I want to believe that the Greek foreign minister understands that patriotic speeches delivered to Greek Cypriot audiences in New York, and pointing his figure and hitting his hand on the negotiating table in Switzerland or dispatching circular letters addressed to the international community will not get us very far. However, if he does understand this time-tested reality, at what is he aiming his patriotic slogans, his extensive use of fake logic and his overall destructive behaviour?
I am frightened by the thought that they may be aiming at rendering the partition of Cyprus inevitable.
Christos Panayiotides is a regular columnist writing in the Cyprus Mail and Alithia