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    The irregularity of our state

    By George Koumoulli



    Two important episodes in recent times clearly prove to us that the irregularity of our state continues unceasingly, while at the same time it is becoming more difficult for serious analysts to face the accusation that Cypriot society is dejected and lobotomized. The first shocking event was the confession in the program “Spikes”, of the television station Omega, two members of the Samson groups that they killed dozens of our fellow turkish cypriots in one month – in May 1964. In fact, one of them, who was a member of EOKA B’, confessed with a laugh (!) that he executed 68 Turkish Cypriots himself. The only “crime” of these 68 people was their religion: they had the misfortune to be born to Muslims and not to Greek Orthodox parents.




    In a normal, democratic country, where the rule of law is deeply rooted, such confessions would provoke fierce reactions from the government, the parties (except for the far right), the Church (especially this one!), the various organisations and, of course, society. However, all the Greek Cypriot mouths remained hermetically closed for this matter.




    There are explanations for this apathy of ours. The first argument is that in a war situation these events are inevitable. And if we assume that in 1964 we were at war, the Geneva Convention explicitly states that the killing of prisoners or civilians is a crime.




    Another argument is that since Makarios gave an “olive branch” when he returned to Cyprus after the tragic events of July 1974, the two murderers cannot be prosecuted. This reasoning, however, is unfounded for two reasons: firstly, the granting of a pardon concerned the crimes of EOKA B’, not those of 1963-64, and secondly – and infinitely more importantly – the olive branch given to suspected criminal offences and/or indictees was an unconstitutional act. If our institutions were functioning properly, then the Supreme Court should indicate to Makarios that the granting of a pardon at the time was unconstitutional. Pardon is given only to convicts. In other words, Makarios’ action was “ultra vires”, as the constitutionalists say, that is, it exceeded the breadth of the power of the President of the Republic provided by the Constitution.




    It is, of course, also the widespread opinion that since both the Turks and the Turkish Cypriots committed atrocities of a similar nature (which no one disputes) in 1974, all the criminal actions of the Greek Cypriots of the decade 1964-74 are automatically forgiven. But this argument is collapsing morally, legally and politically. If tomorrow the two communities adopt the policy of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth for a tooth”, what will be the result? Not, of course, freedom and peace. On the contrary, we will end up with a new barbarism, a new dehumanization, a new cannibalism, and the weak side will be wiped out. Let us also not forget that we represent the legitimate state and, therefore, unlike the so-called TRNC, we are bound by international conventions.




    There is even the erroneous view that time per se erases crimes. But justice has no expiration date. In Germany, a 100-year-old man, Josef S, who was a former concentration camp guard and responsible for the murder of prisoners between 1939 and 1945, is currently on trial. It is self-righteousness on the one hand to forget the crimes of 1964 and on the other to cauterize the Turkish denial of the genocidal campaigns against Armenians and Pontians that took place long before 1964 – between 1915 and 1922.




    The other remarkable episode was the archbishop’s recent interview with “Politis”. In a normal state, interviews with hierarchs are conducted at very sparse intervals on ecclesiastical matters only. The reason is that in democratically advanced countries there is a separation of state and church. It is indicative that in Cyprus, almost daily, the media ask the Primate of the Church to express an opinion on every scientist, as if he is omniscient and all-wise. They fully carry out the wishes of Chrysostom II, who delights in meddling in party issues by making clear allusions to the politicians he prefers, even though he says that he is supposedly neutral. I cannot imagine the “Times” of England or “Le Monde” of France asking the Archbishops of these states about their party preferences and they happily answering and commenting on who they will vote for, johnson’s or Macron’s children.




    Unfortunately, the road to complete separation of state and church is a long one. I grieve at the thought that the great English philosopher John Locke was explaining 33 years ago (in 1689) in his book “Letter on Freedom of Religion” the importance of this division that our state has not understood. In his book, Locke says that a hierarch ought to be limited to the boundaries of the Church, and it is not possible to extend to political things, because the Church itself is completely separated and distinct from the state and political things. The boundaries of the two are fixed and unchanging. The one who confuses these two societies mixes heaven and earth.




    The image of Cyprus of the 21st century is depressing. On the one hand it is corruption, which is a never-ending avalanche with champions of scandals, top stars of the government and the Archbishop, and on the other hand, the state is proving to be erratic, hypocritical, ruthless, incapable of reforms that will make it a normal state.




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

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