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    EOKA and national myths

    By George Koumoulli

     

    According to social scientists, a national myth is a legend or altered historical narrative about a nation’s past that describes the nation’s superior qualities or actions. Such a myth can be purely secular, have religious or spiritual connotations, or incorporate national folklore. The narrative is usually overly dramatic, omitting details when they don’t make the nation look exceptionally good, While adding details that have no real basis or may be figments of the imagination – anything can be added as long as there is the desired symbolic value.

    National myths exist in every society. Totalitarian regimes are strictly enforced and often perpetuate the leader’s incredible abilities and importance, sometimes creating a cult of personality. In the modern world, especially in small and democratically underdeveloped countries, national myths are a matter of political and state propaganda.

    The masses are seduced into considering the myths as real facts. On the other hand, it is possible for a myth to collapse with the revelation of indisputable facts by historians, such as, for example, the national myth of the “secret school” during the Ottoman Empire. The truth is that the Ottomans never forbade the establishment of schools and it is important to add that in the 18th century, there was a real explosion in the establishment of Greek schools that operated freely in Greece and Cyprus.

    One of the most popular myths, which will surely be heard today in the celebrations in the churches for the anniversary of April 1st, is that we owe our independence to the “liberation” struggle of EOKA.

    It is noteworthy that one of the first actions of the new President was to lay a wreath at the imprisoned graves and pay tribute “to all those who sacrificed for the existence today of the Republic of Cyprus”.

    The myth that we owe our independence to the action of EOKA is repeated extensively by Presidents of the Republic, by government officials, by teachers in schools, by the media and, by law, instills in Cypriot society as an indisputable fact.

    State propaganda, says Russian Nobel Peace Laureate Muratov, is a kind of radioactivity that affects everyone.

    The truth is that EOKA’s struggle was for union and not for independence. If we had pursued independence, we could have achieved it on much more favorable terms than those of the Zurich-London Agreements, without shedding a drop of blood, as was the case with almost all the other 70 British colonies.

    In order not to spoil the myth, it is avoided to say publicly that, in fact, EOKA was defeated and that the union that was the goal of EOKA was not only not achieved, but with the Agreements, a gravestone was put on the union.

    It is also considered a national taboo to discuss the suffering of the united struggle that gave rise to the calamity that befell us in 1974.

    Another epic national myth is the reference to the EOKA struggle as “liberating”.

    I believe that the criteria for determining the form of an armed struggle are three:

    The ideology of the leader, the oath of the members, and the composition of the organization.

    The choice of Grivas as leader of EOKA was made by Makarios, who was then possessed by intense anti-communist fury and sympathy with the royalist right faction. Grivas was the leader of the collaborationist organization “X” which collaborated with the Germans.

    The second criterion is the content of the oath: EOKA fighters swore exclusively to the union of Cyprus with Greece.

    As regards the third criterion, it is known that Turkish Cypriots, communists, leftists, and centrists were excluded from the organization.

    The recruitment of EOKA fighters was carried out by conservative elements of the Cypriot youth, and mainly by teenagers who belonged to ecclesiastical organizations and religious associations (PEK, SEK, OCHEN, ZOE) and were, therefore, imbued with the “nationalist” far-right ideology and the grandiose traditions of the Church and the Nation and not with the universal ideals of freedom. peace and international cooperation were the aspirations of other anti-colonial movements.

    Therefore, the struggle of EOKA cannot be characterized as national liberation, since it had neither a popular nor a bi-communal character. As Makarios’ close associate, Nikos Kranidiotis says: “The struggle did not take on the anti-colonial character of other similar struggles and was not immediately based on the principle of self-determination….

    it was a deeply conservative organization that neither wanted nor could carry out a real anti-colonial struggle” (N. Kranidiotis: “Difficult years: Cyprus 1950-1960”, ESTIA publications, pp. 74-75).

    In summary, the struggle of EOKA cannot be characterized as liberating and confirms that a national myth can be a completely romantic story accepted for its symbolic meaning.

    He might object that if the union was achieved, we would automatically gain our freedom.

    There is a paradox here because, at least until the EOKA action, the Cypriots under the colonial regime enjoyed considerably greater freedom than the Greek.

    Suffice it to say that if the union took place then, tens of thousands of Cypriots would end up on Makronisos, which was comparable to the Nazi camps.

    But even the circles that contributed to the staffing of EOKA, such as SEK and PEK, did not think they thirsted for freedom, since only a decade after EOKA they became ardent supporters of the brutal junta dictatorship.

     

    *Opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of CypriumNews.

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