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Friday, May 28, 2004


The Sorrows of Nationhood

The hysterical community feels a compulsive need to recite its principles and values, the repetition serving as reassurance and reaffirmation of its own self-image. This does not mean that it is prepared to act on them, if to do so would lead to a painful confrontation….In the end, it is the principle of opportunism that wins the day. Logical rigor gives way to a — perfectly understandable — longing for tranquility. What could be more natural?
— Emmanuel Terray

On May 3, received the following e-mail, which I quote here precisely as we received it:

you [sic] should be ashamed to call your site greekworks
you fucken [sic] traitors of the greek [sic] ideals.

You better call it turkish [sic] bastards…….[sic]

thats [sic] what you are…pathetic individuals who for the interest of their wallet they [sic] are prepared to support anything that pays. even [sic] if it involves selling out your home land [sic]. right [sic].

Much more seriously, the Limassol home of Nikos Anastasiadês, head of the conservative Dêmokratikos Synagermos (Democratic Rally) party and a prominent Greek Cypriot campaigner for the “yes” vote in the April 24 referendum on the Annan plan for Cyprus, was struck by a grenade on May 4. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but the next day a group called the Organization of Cypriot Nationalists (a name undoubtedly concocted to recall the National Organization of Cypriot Fighters, or EOKA in its Greek acronym) left a typewritten message in a phone booth outside a Limassol supermarket that stated, among other things, that Cyprus was “not for sale” and that the attack on the “traitor” Anastasiadês was only “a minor warning” to those Greek Cypriots who continued to support the “treacherous” UN plan (see “Ultra-nationalist group threatens more attacks against Anastassiades [sic] and other ‘yes’ voters,” George Psyllides, Cyprus Mail, May 6).

Two days after the attack on Anastasiadês’s home, three separate bombs went off in front of the offices of Kibris, the mass-circulation Turkish Cypriot daily in (northern) Nicosia. Again, no one was injured, but an editor of the newspaper, Basaran Duzgun, speculated that paramilitary or ultra-nationalist groups (Turkish Cypriot this time) were responsible; he also said that Kibris journalists and their families had received death threats during the run-up to the referendum because they had supported a “yes” vote (see “Daily Kibris in north Cyprus was bombed,” Cyprus Action Network,, posted May 7).

Finally, as the ultimate comment on this slide into quotidian fascism comes the story that the University of Cyprus has temporarily suspended its e-mail system because members of its staff were using it to send “racist” messages. According to a report in the Cyprus Mail (see “University suspend email lists over racist jokes,” Alexia Saoulli, May 6), “On April 26, University staff members…received a racist joke referring to UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan and the April 24 referendum.” It was a week after this incident that the university’s rector decided to suspend the open network. I should add here that the “racist joke” referred to apparently included a reference to Kofi Annan as a “skylarapas,” or nigger dog.

As Emmauel Terray writes, it is precisely a “longing for tranquility” that is ordinarily the apparent, and paradoxical, resolution of a collective hysteria that is as conflicted about its purposes as it is about its motives; I say apparent and paradoxical, however, only because the problem inevitably arises that this yearning for peace in a community that is self-structured by (and therefore increasingly immured in) irrationality often quickly translates into a lynching bee. What is fascism, after all, but a collective hysteria that politicizes and institutionalizes this societal “longing for tranquility”?


From a hillside in south Cyprus, Ando Siapanis points towards a group of abandoned houses in the plain and a Turkish flag fluttering in the distance beside the derelict tourist resort of Varosha.

“We lost three-quarters of our land and one-third of our property when the Turks invaded. If there’s a settlement we’d get everything back. That’s why we voted yes,” he said.

As the mayor of Dyrenia, the only municipality in the Greek Cypriot-controlled south of the island that voted in favour of reunifying the island in the April 24 referendum, Mr. Siapanis wants another vote to be held as soon as possible.

“Because we live so close to the Turkish military, we understand, probably better than other Greek Cypriots, that peace matters,” he said.
— Kerin Hope, “Failure of UN’s reunification plan casts long shadow over Cyprus’s accession to EU,” Financial Times, April 30

Beyond the results themselves, the most dispiriting aspect of what occurred on April 24 was the defense (and even endorsement) of the Greek Cypriot decision by so many people — many of them on the left — ostensibly because it was the product of a “democratic” vote. Two hundred and seventeen years after James Madison famously warned (in The Federalist, no. 10) against democratic majorities that “sacrifice to…ruling passion or interest, both the public good and the rights of other citizens,” only the most legalistic and ceremonial view of democracy can overlook the innate danger of majority “passion or interest” in the imposition of (to quote Madison again) “schemes of oppression” on minorities. The twentieth century — and the election of leaders ranging from Adolf Hitler to, more recently, Slobodan Miloseviç and Franjo Tudjman — has highlighted, in serial tragedy, democracy’s historical weakness. Nothing is more dangerous in (or to) a democracy than a majority that cannot be contested: that singular fact certainly encapsulates American history. In cases such as Switzerland, Belgium, Spain, Canada, or India (just to mention the most developed democracies), in which the political constitution depends on, and overlays, a social constitution that is bi- or tri- or multiethnic, the actual presumption of “majority” is fraught with civic fratricide and secession. In the worst cases, however — in which democratic structures and traditions are weak, fallible, unconsolidated, malfeasant, and generally acknowledged more in the breach than in the observance — civil violence can reach genocidal proportions. Neither the “nation” once called Yugoslavia nor the country still called Rwanda belongs to mythic or ancient eras. (Probably the greatest crime perpetrated by the United States in Iraq has been to sever the latter’s already tenuous moorings to its self-definition. No one knows what the future will bring in that blighted country, but one thing is sure: the very notion of “Iraq” is increasingly speculative and theoretical.)

One could probably say the same for Cyprus were it not for the European Union. Let’s face it, after the Greek Cypriots’ Serb-like self-immolation on the altar of Church and country (or, at least, on their definition of the latter, which, in the minds of some, is almost akin to blut und boden), one could probably have kissed Cyprus a historical goodbye. Fortunately, although the Greek Cypriots — led by their president, Tassos Papadopoulos — did everything in their power to alienate, humiliate, and demonize the EU (and especially Günter Verheugen, its commissioner for enlargement, who has done more for them in the last five years than most of their co-citizens), the EU refuses to back down, or back away. On the contrary, it is now clear that it will deal with Mr. Papadopoulos with the same patience, and determination, with which it has heretofore dealt with Rauf Denktash, the man who — until last month — had singlemindedly, and consistently, sabotaged (indeed, conspired against) any resolution of the Cyprus issue. In doing so, the EU deserves the complete and undivided support of Greece and of its government. The early indications are that it will at least secure the latter; it seems that Prime Minister Karamanlês has decided that his lukewarm stand (to use the kindest possible description) in support of the UN plan is about as much as can decently be expected of him both as far as “solidarity” with Mr. Papadopoulos is concerned and — a more ticklish issue, this — loyalty to “Hellenism.”

The recent visit to Greece of Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has confirmed that Mr. Karamanlês has a coherent vision of the future of Greek-Turkish relations, both bilaterally and within the context of a united Europe. The problem in this matter, as with the previous administration of Kôstas Sêmitês, is that the government might lead, but the electorate will not follow. As such, the two most sensitive factors in any new relationship between Turkey and Greece during the next several years are not the respective governments (although very many disputes, over very many issues, will need to be settled and/or adjudicated), but the respective peoples. What is truly “paradigm-shattering” about the European Union is not the institutional integration of the French and German states — that is, the congruence of the two entities responsible for the three devastating wars between the two nations in the 75 years between 1870 and 1945 — but the union of the two peoples. It was not France and Germany that combined to form Europe; it was the French and the Germans — but especially the former, who saw themselves as the victims of the latter’s historical aggression — who decided that perennial odium and serial vengeance led to an existential cul-de-sac. Governments sign treaties, but it’s the peoples who are directly affected by them who do, or do not, make the peace. The distressing truth about the Greek Cypriot rejection of the UN plan (and of Greek popular support of that stance) was that it showed the world just how deep and wide the chasm remains between the two ethnic communities on the island and, even more unfortunately, between Greeks and Turks generally.

I say Greeks and Turks generally, by the way, because I’m not naive. Although Turkish Cypriots voted in favor of the Annan plan, I do not believe that they’re any less suspicious of their Greek co-citizens than the Greeks are of them. It’s just that, in this case at least, Turkish Cypriots showed a political maturity and a capacity for sophisticated political calculation and engagement that was clearly beyond the Greek side, which wittingly mired itself in a (self-created) bog of stereotypes, sloganeering, and fear-mongering that occasionally crossed the bounds of racist incitement. Nevertheless, I don’t think that Turks are angels or Greeks are demons. Quite the opposite, I think that both peoples, and their co-ethnics in Cyprus, are equally uncomfortable with the détente initiated several years ago by their governments, and that Turkish-Greek rapprochement is doomed to disappointment and even tears if the two governments do not hasten to bring along their citizens in this fundamental project — which, by the way and by definition, must ultimately lead to the full (or at least confederal) integration of the two nations into a united community, not of (or at least not simply of) Turks and Greeks, but of Europeans. In the event, Greek America once again finds itself as a codependent — except that, in this case, instead of flacking for the US as the imperium’s amanuensis, it is mouthing the hoary clichés of Greek populism.

And, of course, the hoariest of all is that of “trust.” “Trust but verify,” the Great Communicator said. He was actually right about that, which was why Mikhail Gorbachev took him up on his challenge and, the next thing we all knew, the Cold War was over. We now know that the US consistently scuttled every attempt at intrusive arms-verification regimes throughout the Cold War, while the Soviet Union just as consistently, and desperately, sought arms-control and -limitation agreements as the only way to get out from under an onerous arms race that was obviously profoundly more damaging to its fragile (and, ultimately, terminal) economy than it was to that of the United States. But another, deeper, truth is buried in the Cold War history of global bipolarity. Namely, that sometimes the “good guys” are the bad guys in a wider context, while the real “bad guys” might be pretty frightful — to their own people especially — but are not nearly as bad (for purely self-interested reasons) from a broader perspective. Looking at the Soviet Union purely, irredeemably, as an “evil empire” was bound to misconstrue everything about it. Understanding, however (as George Kennan did preeminently), that it was an innately problematic regime (if hardly the “failed state” of neocon dogma) that, for a variety of reasons directly related to its own foundation myths, needed to mollify (and even provide for) its own citizens occasionally, as well as — and, often, this was the point — win friends and influence people throughout the rest of a world in which it daily contested the United States for planetary predominance, would have made us see that what was good for them was not necessarily bad for us.

Greeks owe it to themselves to remember the paradigms of the Cold War. If we look upon Turkey as our own private evil empire, we are doomed to misery; if nothing else, Turkey — unlike the Soviet Union — is not about to disappear anytime soon. More important, Kemalist Turkey has, by its constitutional nature, been a democratically incomplete and damaged state — much as Greece was for most of the twentieth century before the definitive completion of democracy in 1974 and the constitutional reformation of 1975. Greeks lecturing Turks about democracy remind me of Americans lecturing the rest of the world about good and evil. A little bit more humility would be to our own advantage. In the event, Greeks will either leap into this new century, or be dragged into it, unnecessarily and cruelly extending a process that should take no more than a couple of years into a couple of decades or maybe even a couple of more generations.


I know what my critics will say, however: Cyprus is not about abstractions or touchy-feely notions of “reconciliation.” It’s about land, and refugees, and restitution, and, above all, colonization and illegal settlement. Well, yes, of course it is. But so is Palestine. And so was South Africa. What intercommunal conflict, and what nation-building (or -rebuilding), is not, in the end, about land, and refugees, and restitution, and colonization and illegal settlement? (Or, put another way, why are the Orangemen of northern Ireland also called Scotch Irish?) There comes a time, however, when enemies either become fellow citizens or ceaselessly continue murdering each other. And there is never any such thing as the perfect deal. If South Africa — and Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress specifically — taught the world anything, it is that multiracial or multiethnic nations can only cohere when the vast majority makes the largest possible concessions to the minority, even to a minority as oppressive and remorseless as the Afrikaners.

In the end, the resolution of the Cyprus issue comes down to a simple matter: the Turkish settlers in the occupied north. Do they go or stay? Greek Cypriots and Greeks argue (vehemently) that the settlers are all illegal and occupying stolen land, and that they cannot be rewarded by the UN (and the world) for what amounts to their illicit expropriation of Greek Cypriot property (and birthplaces and homes and livelihoods). One can’t dispute either the morality of this analysis or its poignancy. My dissent regards its conclusion, which is directly related to Turkish Cypriots’ own sense of (in)security. I cite the official Website of the Cypriot foreign ministry, from the section entitled, “Illegal Demographic Changes” (see

In the part of Cyprus occupied by the Turkish army, Turkey’s Government has, since 1974, implemented a policy of systematic colonisation in order to change the demographic character of the island….[T]hese settlers come from the Turkish mainland and are of Turkish citizenship. Today [the Website’s copyright line indicates 2002] in the occupied part of Cyprus there are about 115,000 settlers. There is of course, also, a presence of 35,000 Turkish occupation troops. Over the same period, a total of 55,000 Turkish Cypriots emigrated from Cyprus. In fact the number of Turkish Cypriots in the occupied part of Cyprus has actually fallen from 116,000 in 1974 down to 88,000 at present. A natural population increase would have brought this figure up to 153,578.

That last sentence is quite astounding, and we need to pause over it a little longer. Anyone who’s followed the Cyprus issue more than passingly knows that Rauf Denktash has quite literally ruled (and I use the term in its fullest autocratic sense) occupied Cyprus as a pashalik during the last three decades. Mr. No has definitely been Mr. Yes as far as corruption and maladministration are concerned. What that has meant for tens of thousand of Turkish Cypriots has been emigration from their homeland to escape the sheer hopelessness, nepotism, and larceny of Mr. Denktash’s “state.” These native Cypriots have been consistently (and, yes, strategically) replaced by settlers from Turkey — who, not at all coincidentally, are also the bulwark of Mr. Denktash’s political clientele and most unyielding supporters. So, how can one argue with the Greek Cypriot demand that these settlers be uprooted and “repatriated”?

The problem is that word: repatriation. A funny word, that. There are Turkish settlers who have lived in Cyprus for 30, or 20, or 10 years; they have certainly had children who were born there. Naturalization in the US takes only five years. My father was born in Bulgaria of Greek parents and died an American citizen. My mother was born in Greece of parents who were born in Turkey and is an American citizen. I was born in Salonika. What does repatriation mean?

I once had a (wonderful) Greek Cypriot colleague from Kyrenia whose family lost everything, including a sizeable amount of land, after the Turkish invasion. His father had originally left Cyprus for the Belgian Congo, but had to leave that country after the conflict following Patrice Lumumba’s inauguration as the first prime minister of an independent Congo. My friend said that his father loved the Congo, didn’t want to leave, and — although he was a colonist and a white settler — sympathized completely with Lumumba’s desire to free the nation from Belgian rule and cleanse it of Belgium’s monstrous legacy (my friend’s father was from a colony fighting for its own independence, after all). He ended up having to return to Cyprus, however — that is, having to be “repatriated.”

When my wife and I lived in Athens in the early Nineties, I met large numbers of Greek South Africans for the first time in my life. They had all left following Nelson Mandela’s release from Robben Island in 1990, apparently fearful of the consequences of black majority rule. They had clearly never bothered to take to heart Mandela’s rightly celebrated self-defense at the Rivonia trial in 1964:

During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.

When he was released, Mandela had spent over 27 years in prison, but many Greek South Africans — colonists and settlers all, or the native-born daughters and sons of such — could not wait even a year or two in utter freedom (and continuing privilege) before they deserted the country.

It was just panic, of course: that most insidious of communal sentiments. Which is why even the example of the distinguished human-rights lawyer and Greek expatriate (colonist? settler?) George Bizos, Mandela’s personal attorney and his defender at the Rivonia trial, did not make them think twice before abandoning their adopted or native land — or before trying to liberate themselves from the existential pathology of their own racism. So they “repatriated.” To Greece.

As a Greek, I confess that the term, repatriation, scares the hell out of me and reminds me of my own family’s tragedies, which I share with countless Greeks and which I’d rather not see repeated — and certainly not perpetrated in my name as a Greek. Let’s return to the figures quoted above: 115,000 settlers have emigrated into occupied Cyprus in the last 30 years, while a total of 55,000 native-born Cypriots have emigrated. (And, by the way, let Greeks be honest about this, too: virtually all of those who’ve settled in the occupied area have been economic immigrants, not ideological shock troops of pan-Turanism.) In the end, according to the figures of the Cyprus government, there are now approximately 203,000 people in northern Cyprus, whereas there should have been (if native-born Cypriots had not emigrated and Turkish settlers had not immigrated) 153,578. So, the entire “demographic issue” comes down to roughly 50,000 human beings (and let’s also remember that, too: that what we’re talking about here are fundamentally indigent men and women).

What is particularly bizarre about the current Greek Cypriot obsession with demography is that it occurs within the context of Cypriot accession to the EU: in other words, to a federal and therefore innately sovereignty-diminishing structure, a fundamental principle, and right, of which is the unimpeded flow of human beings from one member-nation to another and, as such, the very enfeeblement of the idea of purely national “citizenship.” What I have not been able to understand is what exactly the point is that Mr. Papadopoulos and his supporters are making by this fixation on the “demographic issue.”

Even before the April 24 referendum — and certainly now after it and Mr. Erdogan’s recently concluded state visit to Greece — it is clear that Greece not only backs Turkish accession to the EU, but firmly supports Turkey’s demand that the schedule for accession negotiations finally be set and initiated. This, by the way, is now the position both of the current Greek government and of the opposition party (and former Greek government). In other words, Greece’s open and official policy is that Turkey be integrated into the EU, which now, not at all coincidentally, includes the republic of Cyprus.

What this all means is that Cyprus (north and south), Turkey, and Greece have converged on a vision of coexistence — indeed, substantive integration — that fundamentally transforms their historical relationships and certainly transcends the historical conflicts among their respective nation-states. In this light — in this basic reimagination, rearticulation, restructuring, and reconstruction — of a future that is radically distinct from the past, what does it mean, therefore, to decry demographic alteration when demographic flux is, historically, just around the corner and, in any case, a tenet of the European future to which everyone clearly agrees and aspires?

And, in the end, what is the demographic “threat”? According to Cyprus’s foreign ministry, there were roughly 643,000 Greek Cypriots (including 8,000 Armenian, Maronite, and Latin Cypriots) as of 1999. The total of 203,000 Turkish Cypriots and settlers constitutes 31.5 percent of the Greek Cypriot population, whereas the figure of 153,578, which is the ministry’s calculation of the native-born Turkish Cypriot population had the subsequent emigration not occurred, would have represented roughly 23.9 percent of Greek Cypriots. The difference of 7.6 percent is not insignificant, as it effectively drops the ratio of Greek to Turkish Cypriots from more than 3:1 to just over 2:1. Still, the question for Greek Cypriots is whether numerical superiority is the sole, or realistic, definition of “security” in the new Cyprus — the one, that is, that’s now in the EU. If that’s the case, then what, exactly, was the point to joining the EU in the first place?

Here, I am reminded, as I have been so often over the years, of the wisdom of Kônstantinos Karamanlês, who saw Greece’s accession to the EU as the only guarantee, not merely of economic or social progress, but, more important, of permanent democratic stability and national security. Indeed, for Karamanlês, the point was not “accession” — which is too weak a term for what EU membership has meant for a small and historically troubled nation such as Greece — but embedment, that is, a rock-hard and impregnable security that goes along with being perceived as being a part of “Europe.” It is one thing, in other words, to be seen by enemies or faithless “friends” (yes, like Karamanlês, I mean the US) as “Greece”; it is quite another to be seen as the territorial, and political, extension of “FranceGermanyItalyBelgiumNetherlandsLuxembourg….”

As part of this 25-nation politicoeconomic behemoth — which, on top of everything else, is now considered to be the only viable counterweight to US hegemony in the world — Cyprus has gained a security linkage, and coverage, unprecedented in its 43-plus years of independence. And yet, the Greek Cypriots continue to deport themselves as if they’re living in the nineteenth century, not to mention the more recent and frightful years of intercommunal strife that, for all intents and purposes, led to the disaster of the summer of 1974. Interestingly enough, Turkish Cypriots proved, both with their vote in the April referendum and, even more important, with their rejection a few months earlier of Rauf Denktash’s leadership, that they’ve understood the utterly new context in which Cyprus now finds itself. Mr. Denktash’s rule was openly based on fear and historical memory (appropriately manipulated, as historical memory always is, to reinforce his politics of self-segregation). To their credit, by their mass approval of the Green Line’s dissolution as well as by their election of Mehmet Ali Talat, leader of the opposition Republican Turkish Party, as their new prime minister, Turkish Cypriots finally showed the world last year that they would no longer allow Mr. Denktash to control their destinies. Mr. Talat’s recent remarks in New York are thus particularly relevant: “I will reiterate it once again, the Turkish Cypriots are not for secession, the Turkish Cypriots are not for division. The Turkish Cypriots did not lose their vision for a solution. They want to solve this problem; they want to solve this problem as soon as possible because they are under an oppressive isolation” (see, again and bizarrely, the Cypriot foreign ministry’s Website, “Mehmet Ali Talat meets UN Chief in New York,” May 5,

It seems that the Greek Cypriots have now decided to embark upon their own, unique strategy of “oppressive isolation.” I quote Niels Kadritzke’s comments in this month’s issue of the English-language edition of Le monde diplomatique (see “Cyprus: saying no to the future,” May 2004):

It is important to ask just how the no camp intends to achieve what the Annan plan could have done. It complains that the plan stops short of enabling all refugees to return to their villages, but a no vote prevents 100,000 [other calculations bring the number to roughly 120,000] from going home. It rails against the presence of 950 [actually 650] Turkish soldiers but effectively allows 35,000 to stay on Cyprus. It criticises the decision to naturalise 45,000 Turkish settlers in the north, but rejecting the plan will lead to further emigration by Turkish Cypriots, countered by settlers from Turkey moving in.

These are pointed observations to which, sadly, the Greek Cypriots have no response. In following Mr. Papadopoulos’s quintessentially incoherent rejectionism, they’ve not only made themselves appear foolish (and much worse) to the rest of the world, but have also tied themselves up in conceptual and ideological knots that will take an Alexandrian stroke to slash through. Which is why the last thing they need is to bury themselves in the detritus of the argument over the island’s demographic future, primarily because discussions of “demography” are usually badly camouflaged and poorly coded reactions to race or competing, often minority, ethnicities. Demography is consistently the rallying-cry of nationalists and racists, from yahoos railing against the “Hispanicization” of the US, to Québecois claiming that low fertility among their “branch of the French people” (to echo the sage of Colombey-les-Deux-Églises) threatens Québec Libre (Anglo Canadian racists once looked upon French Canadians as incessant breeders, of course), to neo-Nazis in Germany rampaging and murdering innocent men and women to stop the “Turkification” of the heimat. Demography is so loaded a term that it invariably explodes in the face of the society that uses it without regard to its intrinsically divisive consequences. As far as Cyprus is concerned, Greek Cypriots will finally have to make a collective choice, and one option will entail fundamentally repudiating the ideological bases of much — most Greek Cypriot nationalists would say all — of their identity.

The first choice is to accept the constitutional and administrative premises of the Annan plan and move forward with a legal and political structure that — contrary to the deceptions and distortions of Mr. Papadopoulos and his allies — will institutionalize the two-communities-one-state cohabitation that is the apparent desire of the 76 percent of Greek Cypriots who voted against the plan for reasons only a psychologist of mass delusions can properly fathom. The fact is that the plan removes all but 650 Turkish troops from the country — although the Greek Cypriots say, perversely, that it keeps all 35,000 in place. The plan also allows up to 120,000 Greek Cypriots to return immediately to their homes — although the Greek Cypriots say, grotesquely, that it continues to leave all 200,000 of them hostage to their dispossession. The plan ultimately provides for the full restitution to and self-chosen settlement of all Greek Cypriots — although the Greek Cypriots say, brazenly, that the plan not only perpetuates the island’s division, but, in effect, realizes the old Turkish goal of “taksim” (or, to use the Greek term, dichotomêsê, that is, “bisection”).

So what does this Alice-in-Wonderland reaction by the Greek Cypriots really mean? Clearly, as I wrote at the beginning of this piece, panic, but also contempt: panic because of the possibility that Turkish Cypriots will finally be given unimpeachable authority over the constitutional and juridical structure of the new Cypriot state, and contempt (laced with self-abhorrence, given the nature of these things) that this is in fact the case. That is why the only genuinely liberating option for the Greek Cypriots is a second one, to which I’ve hinted above: the definitive repudiation of “demography” in a new vision of Cyprus as part of a European space in which all Cypriots are Europeans and all Europeans Cypriots. I should add in this light that the most important operating clause in the Annan plan — the one that, quite literally, frees the new state envisaged in it from all ethnic enclavism and enforced bicommunalism — is the accession of Turkey to the European Union.

According to the agreement’s Main Articles, as redacted and published by the UN, Article 3 (citizenship, residency and identity), Par. 5, states that, “…for a transitional period of 19 years or until Turkey’s accession to the European Union, whichever is earlier, Cyprus may limit the right of Greek nationals…or…Turkish nationals to reside in Cyprus if their [respective] number has reached 5% of the number of resident Cypriot citizens holding [the respective] internal constituent state citizenship status.” Par. 7 of the same article declares that, “…for a transitional period a constituent [i.e., either the Greek or Turkish] state may, pursuant to Constitutional law, limit the establishment of residence by persons hailing from the other constituent state…until the 19th year or Turkey’s accession to the European Union, whichever is earlier.” Finally, Article 8, on demilitarization, states in Par. 1a that “…ii) each [Greek and Turkish military] contingent [is] not to exceed 3,000 all ranks thereafter [from 2011] until 2018 or the European Union accession of Turkey, whichever is sooner; and iii) the Greek contingent not to exceed 950 all ranks and the Turkish contingent not to exceed 650 all ranks thereafter, subject to three-yearly review with the objective of total withdrawal [my emphasis]….”

Only a particularly shameless disinformationist can transform this framework into a “sell-out” of the Greek Cypriots — especially because it is so obvious that Turkey’s accession to the EU is so constitutive a part of this arrangement. As such, only the most irrational Turk-hater could possibly assert that Turkey is not to be trusted to respect this settlement, seeing how fundamentally it affects its own future. It is one thing to “trust, but verify”; it is quite another to sabotage any possibilities of a future different from the past because you consider the untrustworthiness of your interlocutor to be so manifest and/or innate that it is tantamount to a fact of nature. In that case, all you are doing is confirming your own elemental, and irrefutable, untrustworthiness.

If the Greek Cypriots had any collective intelligence at all, they’d be clamoring as a people for the immediate accession of Turkey to the EU, since that is clearly the most efficacious way to ensure the total reunification, de-ethnicization, and, for the first time ever, actual integration of all Cypriots — Turkish and Greek — into simple and incontestable Cypriots. But do the Greek Cypriots want to be considered “merely” Cypriots? And do they want to stop looking upon their fellow Turkish Cypriots as aliens, and embrace them as fellow (non-qualified) Cypriot citizens? Those are the questions that obviously only the Greek Cypriots can answer.

Meanwhile, Europe will have to get used to this newly inverse situation in which Turkish Cypriots have successfully bypassed their old leadership (Mr. Denktash), while Mr. Papadopoulos still manages to convince Greek Cypriots to support his archaic (and arcane) position. As it does so, Europe must also now disregard the disingenuous protestations of the Greek Cypriots, and do everything in its power to open the world to Turkish Cypriots and vice versa. And Greeks all over the world who truly believe in a just resolution of the Cyprus conflict have a moral obligation to support this effort and do whatever they can — even if it is construed as a “betrayal of Hellenism” — to make the Greek Cypriots understand the sheer lunacy, and hopelessness, of their position. For quite a few years now, many Greek Cypriots have looked upon Serbia as a kind of ethnic-survivalist reflection, as a “brother” Orthodox nation mortally threatened by Islam and by an international conspiracy of support for the latter. While this might all be pure idiocy, it doesn’t make it any less true for those who believe it; the time has come, however, for Greek Cypriots to take another, truly hard, look at today’s Serbia. Is that really what they want Cyprus to become?

In rejecting the Annan plan, 76 percent of Greek Cypriots have abandoned the solidarity with their Turkish compatriots that they so often used to invoke, and which now rings thoroughly hollow. More important for the diplomatic realities, the Cypriot government has lost all credibility regarding its claim to represent, and speak for, all Cypriots, ethnic Turkish as well as ethnic Greek. That dog won’t hunt anymore. In fact, it’s dead from exhaustion.

Finally, I should add that more than a year before the April 24 referendum in Cyprus, not only opposed it, but offered its support to Mr. Papadopoulos, despite the fact that we disagreed with his intransigence. We wrote at the time:

Mr. Annan’s … insistence on a solution through referendums is particularly problematic, not to say virtually unprecedented. The notion of bypassing the legally constituted — and just recently elected — government of Cyprus is unheard of in negotiations of this type….That the UN would even suggest such a “solution” betrays the desperation of its secretary general. It is, however, an absurd demand. Mr. Annan might not have noticed, but there was in fact a referendum held last month in the Cypriot republic; it’s called an election, and Mr. Tassos Papadopoulos won it convincingly. One might not agree with Mr. Papadopoulos on any number of issues, including the conditions for final reunification of the island, but to say that he does not represent his fellow citizens is insulting, patronizing, and unacceptable. (see, “From Iraq to Cyprus, and Back Again,” March 3, 2003)

What we were afraid of at the time is precisely what happened, and what I mentioned above: the danger of appealing directly to the “people” in an extremely vulnerable political process that allows, not the people, but populism to win the day. In the event, even we did not suspect how much Mr. Papadopoulos did indeed speak for his ethnic constituency.

The good news is that virtually from the moment the referendum was held and the results announced, Greek Cypriots woke up with a massive collective hangover resulting from their “victory” (which was truly Pyrrhic in any case). On May 13, Kathimerini reported that, according to a new poll, 51 percent of Greek Cypriot respondents want a chance to vote on a new referendum based on the Annan plan (see “Cypriots Want a Second Go,” Kathimerini). Meanwhile, even the Greek government has expressed its exasperation in public, with Deputy Foreign Minister Giannês Valênakês openly questioning Mr. Papadopoulos’s government on its demands for a laundry-list of changes to the UN accord. One thing’s for sure: for more and more people, including an increasing numbers of Greeks, Cyprus is no longer a Greek issue or a Turkish issue: it’s a Cypriot issue.

Peter Pappas is co-founder of
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