Cyprus Mail
CM Regular Columnist Opinion

The price of forging history

Makarios proved untrustworthy and erratic, periodically expressing support for Enosis despite having declared it unfeasible

By George Koumoullis

THE FORGERIES of Cyprus’ history are increasing cumulatively, like the galaxies. One forgery gives rise to another worse one and these in their turn to even worse ones. The historian who studies the history of Cyprus over the last decades must record a chain of colossal forgeries.

I have neither the space nor the conceit to undertake such a Herculean task, so I will focus on the uproar created by the recent comment made at the University of Cyprus by the US ambassador John Koenig who said the Cyprus issue, in the main, was not an issue of invasion and occupation.

This view that the Cyprus issue has deeper roots, and that the invasion and occupation were just part of problem, is shared by several respected Greek Cypriot writers and journalists, living and dead. If they were given a chance to speak, they would explain that the Cyprus problem came into being in the 1960s and that its root cause was not the Turkish invasion but the undermining of the independent state by us, who remained fixated on Enosis.

They would claim that our politicians are incapable – either calculatingly or through shallowness – of separating causes from symptoms. The Greek invasion of July 1974 (which we hypocritically and misleadingly refer to as a coup – another forgery of history) and the Turkish invasion in the same month, despite being consequences and not causes of the Cyprus issue, undeniably have added another tragic text to the narrative of our problem.

True love for a country does not involve trying to distort the history of Cyprus ‘in our favour’. Unfortunately, the version propagated by the political parties, which maintains that the Cyprus problem exists exclusively because of the Turkish invasion and occupation, is nothing more than another distortion of history.

The Cyprus problem would not have existed if we had honoured our signature of the London-Zurich agreements which, rightly or wrongly, we had accepted. If we want to look at the gist of the matter, we bear the biggest responsibility for our national problem. Before the ink of our signature on the London-Zurich agreement had dried, the parades for Enosis began.

On 15 January 1961, the anniversary of the Enosis referendum, a mass rally for Enosis was held in Nicosia and almost the entire political leadership attended. In July 1967, our deputies unanimously approved a resolution supporting union with the ‘mother country’, thus breaking their oath to respect the Constitution, which clearly excluded union with any other country. For this outrageous act, a book should be written entitled, ‘The perjurers of the 20th century’, even though a cynic might suggest that ‘The lunatics of the 20th century’ would be more appropriate.

After November 1967, Makarios understood – at long last – that Enosis was not feasible and in the following year the Clerides-Denktash negotiations began with the aim of reaching a new agreement based on independence. Unfortunately, even Makarios proved untrustworthy and erratic, periodically expressing support for Enosis (e.g. his speech at a memorial service in Yialousa in 1968) despite having declared it unfeasible.

And what could anyone say about the Akritas plan? Instead of the leader of the newly created state being a messenger of freedom, generosity, democracy and harmonious relations with our Turkish Cypriot compatriots, he turned himself into a shady schemer plotting the dissolution of the Cyprus Republic.

Despite the adverse conditions, in 1973 Clerides revealed that the Turkish Cypriots had agreed to a model of strengthened local self-government. We were, back then, very close to a solution and relatively grounded compared to 1960. Unfortunately there was another collapse because Makarios objected to the article in the agreement that ruled out union of Cyprus with another country. He refused to give up the objective of Enosis and thus an opportunity that would have averted the events of July 1974 was lost.

We do not have the guts to carry out some self-criticism and admit that we committed a crime against ourselves and future generations. On the contrary, the official line of the political parties is that in the 1960s we were immaculate and untarnished compared to the Turkish Cypriots who were ‘untrustworthy’ and ‘insurgents’.

The painful reality is that in the 1960s we behaved irresponsibly, recklessly and opportunistically. Alas the bill we were called to pay for this dangerous living between 1960 and 1974 was excessively high. We gave the opportunity to the Turks to invade, seize, dishonour, pillage and vandalise, while one in three Greek Cypriots became refugees in their own country.

And to cover up the root cause of the Cyprus issue, the parties point to imaginary hallucinations and obsession in the statements of Koenig, Downer, Eide, De Soto and I don’t know who else among the diplomats and UN mediators that have dealt with Cyprus.

George Koumoullis is an economist and social scientist

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