By Costas Melakopides
On 29 May 2016, the Sunday Mail published the article, “Crude Russian propaganda”, as an alleged “review” of my book, Russia-Cyprus Relations: A Pragmatic Idealist Perspective (London, Palgrave Macmillan, February 2016). Written by the controversial Cypriot former journalist, Makarios Drousiotis, the article amounted to a nasty and banal personal attack, aimed at radically distorting my book’s intentions and consciously disregarding its novel contributions. Essentially, Drousiotis is furious that I could not read all 607 pages of his anti-Russian opus (published when I was finalising my own book) but avoids informing his readers of some of my reasons (pp.111-12):
“While I retain the right (and might have the duty) to return to this work, after reading over 70 pages I fear that reading all 607 pages would border on masochism. For it becomes evident from the very Preface and the Introduction that the author was engaged in a frantic attempt to provide half-truths, veritable distortions, and omissions, in order to reach the preconceived subtitle of ‘the USSR’s double game’.”
I then proceeded to substantiate, in around 150 words, Drousiotis’ glaring omissions and characteristic distortions. In his “review”, he expressed his “surprise” that I could pronounce on his book although I had read only his “introduction”. But he forgot to admit that his “Preface and Introduction” that I had read covered “over 70 pages”; he does not understand that “over 70 pages” are more than enough to identify the quality of any work; and he could not forgive me for being unable to stomach his own any longer.
Be that as it may, and among other things, I was all but openly accused by Mr Drousiotis of being a hired pen of the Russian embassy. Nowhere is it mentioned that my book is the product of hard academic research lasting four to five years, building on my academic essays already published in refereed scientific journals in Russia, Cyprus and the United States. Nor is it recognised that my book has utilised solid arguments from the international bibliography in the disciplines of historiography, philosophy, international law, and international relations. Thus, Drousiotis disregards my book’s elaborate legal arguments and historical analysis that establish why the disingenuous claims by Turkey and its friends that it had the “right” to an invasion are manifestly null and void.
Assisted by the work of distinguished British and American scholars, my book was qualified to revisit the case for the “essential nature of the Cyprus problem” as primarily an international legal and ethical problem of invasion, illegal occupation and massive and protracted violation of human rights, as against the “post-modern” fixation on its “bi-communal” character.
Most important, Drousiotis’ hit-and-run “method” had to bypass any mention of the litany of Moscow’s decisions and actions that defended the Republic of Cyprus from manifestly unfriendly and/or hostile actions by London, Washington and Ankara. (For a succinct summary of Moscow’s major such decisions and actions, see pp. 6-7 of the book.) This, however, is among my book’s primary goals: to juxtapose the Realpolitik of the aforementioned three capitals to the “Pragmatic Idealist” policies of Moscow. These policies, especially in the post-Cold War era and even earlier in a “dormant manner”, issued not only from (self-regarding) interests as the “realist” school has been claiming but also from Russian-Hellenic historical, religious, cultural and “spiritual” sentiments and bonds. As a result, the book is capable of explaining, among other things, why the Greek Cypriots are overwhelmingly grateful to Moscow and the Russian people.
Let me emphasise, moreover, that Drousiotis proved unwilling to mention anything about my book’s theoretical contribution (as signalled by the book’s subtitle). On the other hand, former British diplomat and Cyprus specialist, Dr William Mallinson, endorsed my latest book as follows:
“Using a unique, imaginative but well-thought out approach, pragmatic idealism, Melakopides has uncovered much-needed background on an area not previously dealt with comprehensively, namely the role of the USSR/Russia in the Cyprus affair. In doing so, he also presents compelling arguments for more Russian involvement in solving the island’s problems. And as added value, he provides the uninitiated with a most useful account of what led to Cyprus’ current situation. This informative and thoughtful book presents an exclusively fresh view for academics and laymen alike.”
Similarly, Dr Igor Torbakov of Sweden’s Uppsala University had this to say:
“Costas Melakopides has written a pioneering study that thoroughly investigates the multifaceted Russia-Cyprus relationship. His balanced and nuanced account is based on wide research and is a major addition to the literature on International Relations theory, and to the history of Cyprus and Eastern Mediterranean. Drawing on his deep understanding of Cyprus and of Russia, Melakopides produced an important book that sheds light on both historical and contemporary problems.”
Needless to say, these two judgements – published on the back cover of the book’s second edition – contradict, inter alia, the unethical impression Drousiotis attempted to generate, namely, that my “methods” were confined to ”telephone interviews”, newspaper material, and reflection of the views of “anti-Western journalists”. In other words, his article exhibits a crude disregard of the rich academic literature employed to build the book’s numerous goals in its 224 pages.
In conclusion, Drousiotis’ libellous article, expressive only of his personal spite and current fixations, is an embarrassment for all those Cypriots and non-Cypriots (like myself) who care for this island and its monumentally tragic vicissitudes. And yet, I am grateful for the fact that, though empty of any real content, his piece gave me the opportunity to set the record straight.
Costas Melakopides is an associate professor in the department of social and political sciences at the University of Cyprus and author of Russia-Cyprus Relations: A Pragmatic Idealist Perspective