In a few days, 40 years will have passed since the invasion of Cyprus by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) in response to a coup d’état by Nikos Sampson, a Cypriot fascist, that deposed the then-Cypriot president, Archbishop Makarios. Much blood was spilled.
It triggered a seemingly endless conflict that turned into a Gordian knot, feeding hatred, fear and mistrust between the two native communities on the island. The venomous atmosphere has not lost its state of contagion, as has been exposed in a series of shrewd maneuvers that have also contributed to the instability in the east Mediterranean.
As the latest round of settlement talks drag on, the weariness is so widespread on and off the island that there seems to be no ray of hope for a reasonable conclusion.
If there are any voices of hope, they come not from a new breed of politicians, but from the civilians affiliated with the island, be they Turks or Greeks.
I saw it in an article written and posted by Vasilis Fouskas, an author and publisher, from the University of East London.
“What a shame for a country in which the number of international actors involved is disproportionate not just to the size of the island and its resources, but also to the hypocrisy employed by all those boasting that the plight of the island is due to the historic enmity between Turks and Greeks,” Fouskas writes.
Here are some excerpts I read with interest and emotion:
“Every July I cannot stop thinking of that morning of 20th July 1974. A young boy of eleven years old, born and raised on the Greek island of Lesbos, north-east Aegean and in very close proximity to Turkey, listening to his mother telling him that Turkish planes are flying over the village and that we may be invaded.”
“With my father absent, I was left alone for several days with my mother and 2-year old sister. I felt like it was now my job to take up the role of the protector of the family. Secretly, I took my mother’s long knife from the kitchen and slept with it under my pillow, so I could defend my mother and my little sister from the possible barbaric invader. It was an extraordinary feeling. It made me feel so proud at that young age. Education in school boosted this feeling in the years that followed.”
“Paradoxically, it was only thanks to my father, who pushed me into alternative political educations, that I began questioning the image of ‘barbaric Turks’ and ‘angelic Greeks;’ and also thanks to my grandmother, herself a refugee from Moschonissia, today’s Cunda in Turkey, by the town of Ayvalik opposite Lesbos, that I realised how wrong was the nationalistic narrative about Greek-Turkish relations I was bred with.”
“The future of Cyprus, and of peace in Cyprus, should not rest in the hands of political elites, whether of endogenous or exogenous origins, or both. History has indeed proved the exact opposite of the official, realist narrative. It has indeed proved that Cyprus is the victim of the incompetence of all those past elites to provide a just and viable solution to the Cyprus issue along the lines of realist interests, i.e. national and imperial interests. We need to go back to the wisdom of my grandmother, that ‘realist politics is a divisive force’ and try to move beyond realism.”
“Do you want a solution to the Cyprus issue, and indeed of every similar issue across Europe? The only way forward is to move beyond the realm of realpolitik and to engage with civil society in a manner that raises the issue of solidarity and fraternity on the basis of the ontology that unites society itself, and these are the values of labour, family and anti-nationalist and anti-imperial education; re-discover and re-define diversity (ethnic, state, religious, gender) as being fundamentally resourced, and thus historically determined, by labour and re-production of life.”
“Children of 11 years of age should not be raised in conditions I was raised and should not feel the way I felt at the time. Victims of realpolitik themselves, these children may not be as lucky as I was having the family I had and the grandmother I had. These children may then become leaders of the extreme nationalist, racist and even anti-Semitic politics that endanger the very democratic premises of European politics today and of Greece in particular.”
My article in full, click here:
Article by Vasilis Fouskas, in full, click here: