Finally we are beginning to hear in the Greek press the voices of honourable figures on the left raised against the wretched embargo inflicted on the Turkish Cypriots of Northern Cyprus. Here and there, the crushing silence of the left is being broken.
Unfortunately almost the entire left wing of Greek politics has hitherto supported President Papadopoulos of Southern Cyprus, a man with a disgraceful record, as the authors of the article below point out. In their mention of this record the authors of the article are no doubt referring to the fact that Papadopoulos was the man who compiled the lists of Greek Cypriot left-wingers to be executed by EOKA2, a fact to which frequent reference has been made in the Greek press. We have all witnessed the drama of the Greek Cypriot mother still begging to learn the whereabouts of the grave of her son, a Greek Cypriot left-winger executed by EOKA2, so that she can leave a few flowers in his memory. We are equally aware of the crime committed by paramilitaries of the Greek Cypriot regime in the Turkish village of Kumsal in 1963. These ‘gallant’ animals killed the wife and three children of Major Ilhan, a Turkish military physician with the TOURDIK Army Corps, murdering them in the bathroom of their house. There is fully confirmed evidence that our Turkish colleague had to take three years convalescent leave from the Turkish army to receive psychiatric treatment for the trauma of his loss. The unfortunate victim of the Greek Cypriot paramilitaries now lives in Ankara, a retired general of the medical corps.
On a visit to Ankara the author gave the general one of his books, published in Turkish, whose dedication offers a symbolic apology for the terrible crime perpetrated by these Greek Cypriot animals against his wife and three children.
In their ‘No’ vote, the Greek Cypriots wish to see the reunification of the island and the departure of the Turkish army from the North, so that they can resume their domination of the Turkish minority – that minority which they treated, back in 1963, with the kind of humanity we saw in the case of General Ilhan!
The European Union has a moral duty to suspend the inhuman embargo on Northern Cyprus or proceed to recognize the Turkish Cypriot state. No Turkish government will, or should, allow the return of the Turkish Cypriots into the hands of Papadopoulos or those like him.
The Greek left should be ashamed of its nationalistic conduct!
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Article by Sissy Vovou, member of AKOA, Nasos Theodoridis, member of SYN, and Yannis Milios, editor of the journal Theseis and member of SYRIZA.
This article was published in the AUYI newspaper on 24 December 2006.
THE EMBARGO ON NORTHERN CYPRUS MUST BE LIFTED
That crushing, orchestrated unanimity which we see whenever the entire – unfortunately - Greek political leadership perceives a ‘national danger’ has been repeated in the case of Turkey’s negotiations on EU membership. Once again we have seen sternly worded press releases from left-wing parties and organizations of every shade and tendency (parliamentary, extra-parliamentary, etc.) – so much so that if they were read without their signature one would have trouble distinguishing them from the utterances of the other side of the political divide.
In this particular case the opposing arguments put forward by New Democracy and PASOK would have no significance at all, since it is only natural that the two leading players of the bourgeois political system will continue to pander to the fears of the population, those fears they continually cultivate.
But it is extremely depressing to see a large number of left wing figures of all shades of opinion aligning themselves with the dangerous doctrines formulated and peddled for decades now by the Greek political establishment, in an attempt to the persuade their ‘subjects’ that Greece is under threat, that military expenditure is unavoidable as a matter of national defence, and so on and so forth.
It is our belief that a left wing of this nature cannot offer any overall plan for radical change, since at best it is content to walk a tightrope based on petty self-interested calculations of political cost, and in the worst case is prepared to embrace, quite sincerely, the arguments of the ruling class. Most of the left wing are unwilling to mount any challenge when questions of ‘national interest’ are raised, in fact sometimes the left is more Catholic than the Pope. The reasons for this date far back in time, but the evil has now become excessive. As long as there is no broad and educational dialogue (which may well be painful for those ordinary working people who have been spoon-fed on nationalistic ideas), a dialogue which can only end in acknowledgement that nationalistic obsessions are entirely and utterly irreconcilable with the Marxist or class-oriented view of history, then the situation can only get worse, because the actual state of affairs is usually dire. Yesterday we had the Annan plan, today something else.
As for the issue of Turkish accession to the EU, no one can be sure how many Greeks are aware that there were clear political negotiations in 2004 between Turkey and the EU in order for the former to do what it could to contribute to resolution of the Cypriot problem by urging Northern Cyprus to accept the Annan plan, while the EU would demand the opening up of Turkish ports to ships from Southern Cyprus. It is evident that the first part of the agreement was indeed implemented, through the vigorous efforts of the Turkish Cypriots which culminated in an overwhelming majority in favour of the ‘Yes’ vote within the geographical boundaries of Northern Cyprus, a major victory for the peace-loving and progressive Turkish Cypriots over the negative stance of Denktas. The second part of the agreement foundered on the catastrophic ‘No’ vote which brought to the surface all the nationalism of the Greek Cypriot side, as expressed by their President, the man with the black historical record. The insatiable ruling class of Southern Cyprus appear to be succeeding in their plan to strangle the economy of the Turkish Cypriots, using their strength and powerful position, taking their revenge for the events of 1974, and seeking the exploitation of a cheap labour force.
The entry of Cyprus into the EU occurred without any prior resolution of the Cypriot issue and thus the EU has inherited the management of an unprecedented situation in which an EU member is under de facto partition, with the Turkish Cypriots marginalized and unable to participate fully in the European project.
The fact that the majority of Greek Cypriots voted ‘No’, on the basis of what we might call ‘the nationalism of the privileged’, does not alter the fact that the Turkish Cypriots are isolated and without a voice in the EU.
It is clear that the weakest group in this ‘multilateral conflict’ are the Turkish Cypriot working class. Consequently the fundamental duty of the left on the Greek Cypriot side and in Greece should be to offer them explicit and unconditional support against the current nationalist arguments of the bourgeois regimes in Greece and S. Cyprus, which insist on dividing peoples on the basis of ‘nations’, obscuring the only real divisions which are worth fighting over, namely class divisions. The unbelievably harsh stance of many on the left against Turkish entry is simply the icing on the cake.
In reality their stance is entirely in harmony with their tacit complicity in the suppression of certain truths: that the Aegean is not in any circumstances a Greek lake; that the notorious violations of Greek air space are a stage-managed illusion, since Greece has failed, illegally, to align its air and sea borders; that the troops posted in the eastern Aegean are likewise illegal; that war is unacceptable, even when it is described as defensive war; and that in all circumstances compulsory military service is an unacceptable barbarism.
Regardless of the harsh tactics we are using, and rightly so, against the EU and its entire policy, the Republic of Cyprus has chosen to join the EU, and this entry into the EU without a prior solution creates crushing problems for the Turkish Cypriots, who, with the passing by majority of the Annan plan, have done what was equivalent to them to the lifting of the de facto partition that has been in place for 42 years.
Without being in a position to conduct foreign policy, we cannot accept the national unanimity on issues which the left should be approaching through a class perspective.
We continue to denounce and seek an end to the Turkish occupation in Cyprus, but the new circumstances require a realistic policy which will improve the lives of the Turkish Cypriots – who are economically, socially and culturally marginalized, and isolated from developments in Europe.
Their continuing isolation will bring no benefits to the Greek Cypriot people living in the Republic of Cyprus in its current form.
Even if, on the basis of the current developments, as many fear, the two small and divided communities of this small island are finally led to de jure partition, the work of the left is not to support such a process but to adopt – at each stage and following appropriate policies – the policy of cooperation and inter-state solidarity.
The aspirations of the Republic of Cyprus are now being used by the major powers within the European Union to keep Turkey out, but their motivation is political, economic and cultural and most certainly not any interest in democracy in Turkey. This is something the left must certainly address through the appropriate policies, not through isolation.
Finally, we wish to state once more our conviction that there can be no consistent anti-capitalist policy which is not combined with an absolute determination to resist all forms of nationalism.