Greek Cypriot Arrogance Stymies Talks

Article excerpt


Negotiations die on the altar of distrust.

To appreciate the distrust that haunts a settlement between the politically equal Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots on the island. the following ugly vignette speaks volumes.

In the Greek Cypriot-administered South near the townships of Paralimni and Ayia Napa is found a seemingly innocuous "mini-zoo." But like a page out of George Orwell's "1984," that place of ostensible amusement and zoological learning has been exploited to propagandize against Turkish Cypriots and Turkey.

A visiting Turkish Cypriot television crew from the national BRTK Radio and Television station was recently stunned to see the unabashed malevolent writings in zoo brochures, posters, and walls. Some spoke of the "barbarity" of the Turks. Others featured "wanted" signs attacking Turkey. The pinnacle of Greek Cypriot ethnocentrism was reached at a snake pit. The sign above read in ungrammatical but plain meaning: "When you trust a Turk is like you trust a snake."

The mini-zoo propaganda spectacle is emblematic, not aberrational. Indeed, Greek Cypriots have been preaching Hellenistic domination of the island with Turkish Cypriots relegated to a second-class minority or worse for 40 unbroken years. The Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus celebrates as gospel the gruesome Sept. 4, 1963, pronouncement of Archbishop Makarios, the then Greek Cypriot leader on the island: "Unless this small Turkish community forming part of the Turkish race which has been the terrible enemy of Hellenism is expelled, the duty of the heroes of EOKA [a Greek Cypriot terrorist organization] can never be considered as terminated."

These incendiary remarks unleashed an orgy of Greek Cypriot violence and ethnic cleansing against Turkish Cypriots beginning in December, 1963, which The Washington Post characterized as "genocide," and then United states Undersecretary of State George Ball deplored as tantamount to an abattoir of Turkish Cypriots.

Four decades have elapsed. Crises have come and gone. But the more things have changed on Cyprus, the more they have stayed the same. The virulent anti-Turkish racism deeply ingrained in Greek Cypriot culture has remained undiminished.

The poetry in Greek Cypriot elementary school textbooks exhorts students to fight and to evict the ancient enemy, the Turks. The latter are depicted as "the barbarians of Attila [the Hun] who should hang in the halls of shame." One couplet pleads: "Dear God, you who can see the whole world from above, take a look at our beloved island also. My Lord, make us a favor for our island to be freed from the domination of Barbarian Turks and regain its freedom."

Such omnipresent ethnic hatred finds grim expression outside the classroom. Last month, the mainland Greek commander of the Greek Cypriot National Guard, Lt. Gen. Athanasios Nikolodimos, bugled that "the struggle being waged by [the Greek Cypriot military and political leadership] was the struggle to hoist the [Greek] flag at Kyrenia Castle [in the heart of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus]," reminiscent of Germany's 1938 demand for Lebensraum in the Sudetenland. …