Thursday, May 30, 2024

    The Greeks and us

    By George Koumoulli



    Staying temporarily in Athens and coming into contact with academics and students, I make no secret of the fact that, as a Greek Cypriot, I have tasted some bitterness! First of all, however, I want to praise the impeccable behavior and courtesy of the Greeks, at least in the suburbs of the capital: everyone speaks to me in the plural and gives me priority by entering or leaving a store, while the words “please” and “thank you” resonate everywhere. Associatively come to my mind some of our own nobles, who are far from familiar with good manners.



    Let’s see what hurt me first. Talking to the group I have mentioned, I realize that the Greeks who were unborn in 1974, the year of the tragedy in Cyprus, or those who were crawling at the time, know little about the causes of Turkey’s invasion and therefore blame only Turkey, ignoring to a large extent the anti-national role played by the “extreme Greeks” both here and in Greece. Perhaps this impression has been established because, as unbelievable as it may sound, no Greek officer who led the invasion of Greece on July 15, 1974 was punished and this ipso facto is a maximum insult to the Greek Cypriots and a polyonic disgrace to the nation. They are unaware that the coup d’état was in fact a brutal invasion of junta Greece and, therefore, it was the Greece of the “ethnophrones” that lit the wick that made Cyprus a mockery. But the elders also tend to forget those dramatic events to the extent that I wonder what lotus or what other herb of forgetfulness the Greeks suddenly tasted. It is a tendency that should worry everyone, because we ought to learn from history, which we should not see as a chain of dead feats and sufferings, but as a living source of lessons.



    Of course, some will object that the junta is one thing and Greece is another. But the junta was not heavenly. It was born and raised in Greece! It certainly did not represent the Greek people, but on the other hand we must not forget that several Greeks, and all the hierarchs, were victimizers of dictatorial schizophrenia.



    This ignorance of history is important because it turns the Greeks into indifferent observers towards the drama of Cyprus and especially towards the refugees of Cyprus. They cannot comprehend that the suffering of the refugees is even greater when we consider that Greece has participated in their destruction. As Aesop used to say, “The center of sorrow is the most evil, when the dangers of the familiar” (The sting of pain is more terrible when the blow comes from someone of our own).



    I also cannot fail to mention the indifference of the Greek media to the Cyprus issue. To limit myself to just one example, on the 18th of this month two events occurred concerning the relations between Greece and Turkey: one was the Turkish overflights that took place just 2.5 nautical miles from Alexandroupolis and the other the works that began on the beach of Famagusta in order to open one more piece, in stark contrast to the decisions and resolutions of the Security Council. Naturally, the Greek media appreciated the overflights that considered a very clear escalation of Turkish provocativeness and as it was unnatural, most newspapers did not make a squeak about the new faits accomplis in Varosha.



    The prevailing position in Greece is that Cyprus and Greece are two states but one nation. Of course, this position is not entirely correct, since Turkish Cypriots, Maronites and other minorities live in the CCT, but I am overlooking this important detail related to the national identity of Cypriots since it is not the main issue. In any case, the conclusion that can be drawn is that we are considered an integral part of the Greek nation. Given this, why does Greece not consider as a casus belli the drilling within the Cyprus EEZ by Turkey and the gradual occupation of Varosha as well? I cannot imagine Turkey drilling within the Greek EEZ and/or occupying a small island in the eastern Aegean or a part of Kastelorizo, for example, and Greece remaining indifferent, limited to rhetorical disapprovals. This is a distinction against the Greek Cypriots. It essentially classifies Cypriots as Second Class Greeks. Unfortunately, the externalization of such thoughts and concerns is considered anti-Greek behavior by the establishment. Any criticism of the Greek Government is taboo. It is a relic of the dictatorship era, when whatever the junta decided was greeted with ineffable jubilation and sobs of gratitude.



    He may object that the inhabitants of Kastelorizo, unlike us, live in the Greek territory, so there can be no comparison. However, Greece is one of the Guarantor Powers and, therefore, apart from the moral one, there is also the legal obligation to protect the territorial integrity of the CCT and to safeguard our maritime interests. In 1974, Cyprus may have been “far away”, as K. Karamanlis pointed out, but the modern fighter planes that Greece now has are solemnly cancelling this position. And yet, this Karamanic doctrine is considered a law in Greece, reminiscent of the ancient saying, “Evil seed, bad harvesting—bad law, bad account.”



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

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