by Giorgos Koukoumas, member of AKEL Central Committee
Read the article in Greek at CyprusNews.
Whether we view it as a tragedy or a comedy or merely a nationalist mask serving electoral expediencies, the decision of the House of Representatives does not cease constituting a political act.
The timing, the messages it sends out, the Cyprus problem, the starting point of the proposal tabled raise explicitly political issues for the seven political parties in the House who voted for the proposal (to celebrate Enosis as an official day in schools). “What problem do you have with a historical event being taught in schools?” they loudly proclaim on social networks. But the problem is that it isn’t going to be taught, but that an event is going to be celebrated and indeed selectively in a fragmented manner and given of course that the 60 years of blighted history of the demand for Enosis that followed it are overlooked.
Therefore the problem is not what they will say about Enosis, but what they (once again) won’t say.
First. The 1950 “Enosis Referendum” cannot be discussed – let alone celebrated in schools – without being part of the complete history of the Enosis demand and its tragic conclusion. The demand for Enosis returns increasingly all through Cyprus’ history during the 20th century – and who would have thought it – in the 21st century as well, assuming each time a different content in different conditions.
What was a national desire during the 1930’s and an anti-imperialist demand in the 1940’s, was rendered unfeasible in the 1950’s and a disaster in the 1960’s.
Enosis became a conscious act of treason in ’70; a chauvinistic psychosis from 1974 onwards.
In 2017 it is the repetition of the condensed tragedy of Cyprus as a farce.
Who could have imagined that precisely 50 years after the unanimous – regretfully – resolution of the House of Representatives in favour of Enosis, today the House – this time fortunately not unanimously – would ignite, even in this way, the issue of Enosis?
One could say that history is repeating itself, but this is not accurate because every time the discourse on Enosis is repeated we don’t end up with the same result, but worse. In the past this discourse on Enosis ended in the bitter defeat of visions. It subsequently went on to undermine the common independent state. Later on it became the vehicle of the betrayal committed and invasion.
Today, we are talking about an open advocacy for the final partition of Cyprus. Obviously, the discourse on Enosis was not the only and not even the main reason for the suffering of the people of Cyprus. But it was the fuse that sparked adventures and tragedies. If such a type of debate on Enosis will be conducted in classrooms, then it would be welcomed.
Second. The Enosis Referendum itself began on AKEL’s initiative in order to raise the issue of Cyprus in the UN. Nonetheless, for reasons of unity, it withdrew it when the Ethnarchy (refusing to cooperate with the Left because “any association with communism constitutes a serious misconduct tantamount to treason”) announced its own campaign to collect signatures in churches. It is also true that AKEL not only supported Enosis, but for many years – and long before the Ethnarchy took the decision in favour of armed struggle – it was (even in the period of the illegal Communist Party of Cyprus that demanded independence and not Enosis) the only force on the island to mobilize the people against the British colonial yoke, even counting the first martyrs of the anti-colonial struggle.
It would be interesting if the Ministry of Education were to inform us whether it refers to the pathological anticommunism of the Right-wing and to the leading pioneering role of the Left in the Anniversary messages it circulates.
It would be interesting if the Ministry of Education were to inform us whether there is any mention of the strikes, mass rallies and protests that were organized and that shook the island, whether there is any mention of the imprisonments, deportations, the dead, and the fact that the Party was twice forced underground struggling in illegality.
All these historical facts compose a whole history which has never entered in our schools and never been part of the official historical narrative. I suspect that it will not be included in the anniversary events, because if this were to happen then they themselves would have discredited the myth of the “anti-Greek” and “traitorous” AKEL and we would then be left with so many self-appointed preachers and politicians of the Right.
Third. Since they are so concerned about the historical truth, they should thus tell the whole truth. They must say that during the period when the people of Cyprus were under British colonial yoke and misery, there were certain…respected Cypriots who had excellent relationships with the given British governors. We are talking about the emerging bourgeoisie/ruling class, the big landowners, the Church hierarchy, all those circles and forces who staffed the colonial administration and were financially benefiting from the colonial regime.
One only needs to go through and study the archives to see the names of those who were appointed by the British in the colonial government’s vital posts for one to understand that these were the very same establishment forces that to this day hold the country’s financial and political power in their hands. We are referring to the well-known – in our own times as well – breed of demagogues that were making empty speeches for union with Greece from the balconies and in the high society salons making obedient bows to the British.
The following conclusion belongs to the then Consul of Greece in Cyprus, Alexandros Kountouriotis: “The renowned right-wing Cypriot faction, the euphemistically called “national-minded”, whose leadership has covered and dressed itself with the Enosis lion skin, without believing in Enosis. It has done so in order to use it as a weapon against godless and stateless communism from which it is threatened. The material interest which constitutes the first and foremost belief of the leadership of the Right faction does not want to see the departure of the British from Cyprus. (…) The word “treason” would be lenient for one to characterize the remarks made within four walls by… the fanatical Enosists of the Right about the British rulers.”
Will they read this out in the anniversary message to school pupils?
Four. Even when, during the 1940’s and 1950’s, the declared goal of the anti-colonial struggle, was common, namely Enosis, AKEL gave a fundamentally different content to the struggle than the Right and the Ethnarchy.
It wasn’t just the much-discussed disagreement on tactics: AKEL proposed mass political and broad popular struggle and the Right armed struggle.
The Left defended the rights and entity of the Turkish Cypriots, even in the context of a future regime of Enosis. It called for the waging of a united anticolonial front of struggle of the people as a whole. But more importantly, the Left gave an anti-imperialist character to the national liberation struggle and did not accept the granting of concessions to the British and the motherlands, hence it rejected the London and Zurich Agreements.
In contrast, the Right and the Ethnarchy saw the struggle through the lens of nationalism and as a continuation of irredentist struggles and the “Great Idea” of “superior” Hellenism. It was seeking solutions through the illusion of “Greek-British friendship” and had no hesitation in accepting – as it accepted in the 1959 agreements – “sovereign” military bases to the British, the military presence of Greece and Turkey, and the establishment of the system of guarantor powers on Cyprus’ back. The connotations and historical parallels are unavoidable…
Five. There is a fundamental difference between the support for the goal of Enosis before 1960 and the persistence on it after the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus. The debate over whether or not Enosis was just or feasible before 1960 is an interesting debate, but it belongs to the field of historical science. The examination, however, of the demand for Enosis after 1960 also has political implications, because as long as the Republic of Cyprus exists – and provided that we want it to continue to exist – any reference to Enosis clashes and contradicts our country’s very statehood itself. In addition, from 1974 onwards, the banner of Enosis is not a white and blue colour. It has the black colour of treachery and fascism. This isn’t washed away no matter how many celebrations the six bourgeois parliamentary parties may approve together with the fascists.
Six. A highly “digestible” – but utterly without foundation – narrative that is historically equating Grivas with Makarios is continuously being promoted in the public discourse seeking to exonerate and pardon the ideas and actions of Grivas. According to this premise, the aimless and self-destructive discourse on Enosis of the Greek Cypriot leadership as a whole in the mid-1960’s is being equated with the armed coupist subversive action of the supporters of Enosis that followed.
We can write entire books about the tragic mistakes committed by Makarios. But his mistakes can’t be put in the same category as the treason that was committed. The discourse on Enosis of Grivas, EOKA B and the Greek junta was neither a desire or passion for Enosis, nor a mistake. It was American dollar driven terrorism of bloodshed and murder, the conscious complicity in the conspiracy for the division of Cyprus and its subjugation and surrender to NATO. Makarios, AKEL and the overwhelming majority of the people foresaw – if ultimately – the coming devastation and they changed course to follow a feasible policy, namely the policy and line of independence, which was sealed with Makarios’ triumphant re-election to the presidency in 1968. In contrast, the “unrepentant Enosis supporters” both in Greece and Cyprus fulfilled and carried out to the very end precisely what they had been ordered to do by their transatlantic bosses.
Seven. It is true that even AKEL was led astray by the climate of “national unity” and proceeded to proclamations and sloganeering in a discourse of Enosis, mainly during the period 1964-1967. It is difficult for someone to argue that AKEL’s stance, which was anyway far from decision-making centres, affected the course of historical developments. However, AKEL’s stance, even though it was rooted in its concern not to be isolated, undoubtedly constituted a political mistake. It was a mistake about which – though two decades later – it proceeded as a result of a decision taken by its Central Committee to self-criticism before the people and history, because mistakes and their recognition are perhaps the most vital source of wisdom. This accumulated experience contributes decisively so that AKEL has the strength to defend truths and principles, even during times when it is alone in its position, as for example yesterday in the House of Representatives.
The following question of course lingers: how is it possible the other political parties – “the parties of the Makarios centre spectrum”, “the parties that want a solution of the Cyprus problem”, “the parties who are aggressively defending the Republic of Cyprus” – not only do not admit that mistakes were committed by the Greek Cypriot leadership, but after half a century return and commit the same proverbial irrationality.
One can for sure say that there has been no self-criticism about the “mistakes” committed that can be seen in the slogan lit up in the night on the occupied Pentadaktylos mountain range and that are scattered in the cemeteries in Cyprus…
Eight. The fact that DISY, DIKO, EDEK, “Citizen’s Alliance”, the Ecologists and “Solidarity” did not hesitate to support – by voting in favour or abstaining – an amendment coming from ELAM, the branch of the “Golden Dawn” party in Greece, is in itself a political fact symbolically marking the shift of all the Greek Cypriot bourgeois parties further to the (extreme) right spectrum. The House’s decision may have been a blatant act of stupidity, nevertheless in politics – and let alone in Cypriot political life – stupidities have the power to lead to serious political developments and even trigger an avalanche of developments that neither those who caused them won’t withstand and want them.
Nine. Or do they perhaps actually want them? This is the question that deserves to be answered because all the seven parties proceeded to this action knowing what this action meant – in the middle of negotiations for the solution of the Cyprus problem – and having – certainly – heard the “argument” “and what will the Turkish Cypriots do if the Greek Cypriots again decide that they want Enosis?” which the Turkish side repeats in order to support its position for the necessity of Turkish guarantees and the presence of Turkish troops forever because, I bet that neither ELAM nor all the others believe that Cyprus’ Union will be achieved with Greece. Nevertheless, as a result of their action in the House they evidently wanted to send out specific messages in various directions: to society, young people, voters, Turkish Cypriots and foreign embassies. I would argue that each of them wants at the same time to also convey its own message to AKEL, but this is a different story.
However, I assume with fear that – as in so many other times in the troubled history of Cyprus – the selling off and compromise with partition may come dressed in blue and white colours and with a discourse on Enosis.