Cyprus Mail
CM Regular Columnist Opinion

The Archbishop is clueless

Archbishop Chrysostomos

IT’S customary on Christmas for religious leaders to extol the virtues of love and peace, of solidarity to the poor, to those fleeing war and hunger, regardless of their ethnicity or religious doctrine.

The ‘shining’ exception to the rule is Archbishop Chrysostomos, the resplendent star of the rejectionist ‘ideology’. It is during days like these when he is wont to either expound his ideas about investments or, as he has done this year, talk about the Cyprus issue.

Sadly, the Prelate’s very remarks fuel the suppressed chauvinism of like-minded individuals and other ignoramuses, making a settlement of the Cyprus problem harder still. In his message of a few days past, the Archbishop voiced support to a one-state solution where the Greek Cypriot community, he said, should dominate since it comprises 82 per cent of the population.

It’s a recipe for avarice, since adopting such a policy would mathematically cause a deadlock in the Cyprus issue, setting the stage for the Turkification of the island which, supposedly, is what Chrysostomos wants to avert.

Let us delve a little more into the Archbishop’s message. Like all rejectionists, he stresses that the 18 per cent of Turkish Cypriots cannot be equated to the 82 per cent of Greek Cypriots. It seems that Chrysostomos’ timepiece is stuck in 1974, a time when the population of Kyrenia was 3,000, Turkey’s population 38.5 million, the global population 3.9 billion.

Today the respective numbers are 42,000, 83.8 million and 7.8 billion. No one knows precisely what percentage Turkish Cypriots account for, but it’s estimated that their numbers must have doubled since 1974. And, of course, unless the Cyprus problem is solved it is only a matter of time until those residing in the north become the majority on the island.

The Archbishop is fully aware that the ‘one man, one vote’ slogan enthralls the faithful and the gullible alike. And that is why he keeps rehashing it. Someone ought to explain to him that in federal states, or countries comprised of communities, like Cyprus, putting this slogan into practice could well constitute a breach of political equality. For instance, if the ‘one man, one vote’ principle were applied in Cyprus, what sort of protection would Turkish Cypriots have if laws were enacted that were oppressive against them?

We need but recall that the Constitution of 1960 provided for separate majorities in order to pass a law. Thus, if 8 out of the 15 Turkish Cypriot MPs, or 16 per cent of the total (there were 50 MPs overall) did not sanction a bill, the bill would be defeated. So the ‘one man, one vote’ principle never did apply, not even in the 1960 Constitution. If it had applied, then during its first session in 1960 parliament would have no doubt decided to vote for Enosis, union with Greece.

The Prelate also advocates for reactivating the Unified Defence Dogma. Were someone to look into the history of this dogma, they would find it to be a travesty. Pity that Charlie Chaplin is no longer with us – he would have had ample material to produce a tragicomic film, one that would have made history. It would be called “The Greece-Cyprus defence umbrella.”

Prior to the disaster of 1974, successive Greek governments had assured us that Cyprus was under their defence umbrella. Who would have known that one of those governments – a dictatorship even – would conflate defence with offence and would violently invade on July 15, 1974 while in the background green-lighting an invasion by another so-called ‘guarantor’?

And whereas the Dogma was forgotten after 1974, it was revived in November 1993 by Greek prime minister Andreas Papandreou. In February 1994, the then Greek defence minister Gerasimos Arsenis was publicly explaining the Dogma, assuring everyone that we could feel safe because Greece was protecting us. Even though, he went on to stress, under the same Dogma Cypriots were likewise obliged to defend Greece militarily in the event of a Greco-Turkish conflict.

As expected, the pronouncement of the Dogma thrilled a great many, especially the ‘uber-patriots’. Alas, the Dogma that was unveiled amid much fanfare turned out to be an unmitigated fiasco.

It was on January 31, 1996, when the Imia crisis broke out threatening war between Greece and Turkey, that the Dogma was ripped to shreds. At the time President Glafcos Clerides and his close aides were at the presidential palace, where they had spent the previous night. In a state of panic over the consequences to Cyprus in the event of a Greco-Turkish war, they asked General Vorvolakos to assess the capabilities of the National Guard. From Vorvolakos’ response, they realised that by sometime around noon Turkish officers would be sitting down at Paphos harbour enjoying a good meal.

Foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides and Undersecretary to the President Pantelis Kouros undertook to contact Arsenis to ask him whether the Dogma would be activated in order to protect Cyprus. But Arsenis was nowhere to be found. Call after call was made, but to no avail. Greece’s defence minister, the go-to advocate of the Dogma, had fled! And that marked the Dogma’s inglorious end.

As a side note, it’s recently being argued, particularly by nationalists, that we need to bolster our defences. Allow me to question the logic of the argument since any such attempt would not in the least impact Turkey’s overwhelming military superiority.

Should conflict erupt, prolonging our resistance would yield no benefit whatsoever, because no country will hasten to our aid. On the contrary, in the event of a protracted conflict, the painful shame of 1974 would be like a walk in the park, paling in comparison to the calamities brought to bear on us. And that is why we are best advised to focus on diplomacy and forget about warfare.

 

George Koumoullis is an economist and social scientist



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