IT WAS surprising to see President Anastasiades as the guest of honour and speaker at an “event in memory and honour of Archbishop Makarios III”. Politically he had never been a supporter of Makarios and in the past avoided taking part in such events, the sole purpose of which is to maintain the myths about the greatness of the first president of the Republic, under whose infallible leadership, some 200,000 Greek Cypriots became refugees and 40 per cent of the Republic’s territory was lost to Turkey.
Not that Makarios was daubed with the slightest responsibility for these disasters at Friday’s event by Anastasiades, who has suddenly discovered that he has great respect for and is indebted to Makarios – something he never admitted publicly in the past – for his “legacy”. What has made the president join the Makarios disciples’ camp so late in his political career? The time when people categorised themselves as pro-Makarios has long gone by, and for the younger generations the name of the late president, who passed away more than 40 years ago, quite rightly has no relevance.
Anastasiades is therefore not going to expand his support base by suddenly posing as an admirer of Makarios, but we suspect he had a good reason for offering to be a speaker at Friday’s memorial event. It was another opportunity to promote his two-state agenda by identifying with the man who came up with the rhetoric about the “unyielding struggle for vindication”, which has been used by all subsequent presidents and their political supporters to justify their refusal to reach a compromise with the other side. Makarios was the uncompromising leader who forced the withdrawal in 1963 of the Turkish Cypriots from the partnership state, which became a Greek Cypriot state and remains so to this day.
Anastasiades wants to keep it this way which why he decided to align himself with Makarios. “The vital decisions that were taken then (after the invasion) by Makarios, it is no exaggeration to say are those that even today determine, to a large extent, the course we are following as regards the handling of the Cyprus problem,” said Anastasiades. This was an absurd thing to say. If our president believes that conditions in 2019 are the same as those of 1975 to justify sticking to Makarios’ decisions of 44 years ago, we have a big problem.
Of course, he does not, but it suits his purposes to claim that he is following the patriotically uncompromising stance of Makarios that will inexorably lead to the formalisation of partition as the settlement of the Cyprus problem. This is Anastasiades’ objective and he will even pose as an admirer of Makarios’ legacy if it will help him cultivate public acceptance of it.