Cyprus and the myth of Humpty Dumpty

Meeting of the leaders - Courtesy of Cyprus Mail
Meeting of the leaders – Photo courtesy of Cyprus Mail

By Gavin Jones

WHEN we were children, many of us were brought up with and inspired by the magical tales of the Greek myths which were dominated by such characters as Hercules with his 12 labours, Jason searching for the Golden Fleece, Perseus battling the multi-headed Gorgon Medusa and a host of other wonderful adventures. In all probability, at an early age these stories gave us the impetus to take up reading as a worthwhile pursuit and helped us to fire our imagination and open our eyes to the many wonders and possibilities that surrounded us.

In the modern Hellenic world, the propensity for myth-making and exaggeration is very much alive and well and ever more so in its eastern outpost, Cyprus. Hardly a day goes by when some Minister or worthy announces that some fantastical project or discovery will soon come to pass and that the island’s current woes will be a distant memory: gas extraction; LNG terminal; pipelines to Egypt, Israel, Greece and all points of the compass; hubs for medical tourism, port facilities and other such ‘hubs’; tourist resorts complete with seaplane facilities; Chinese trade exhibition hall; Qatari hotel, apartment and shopping mall; the overall recovery of the economy and the upward trend of the banking sector. The list is endless.

We then come to the long running national issue, more commonly known as the Cyprus Problem. Of all the fables that have been bandied about over the decades, those concerning this issue must surely take pride of place as it’s been the most prolific in terms of wishful thinking and myth generation as we enter 2015.

In the wake of the general consensus between Makarios and Denktash over 35 years ago that the island should become a bizonal, bi-communal federation, what has been achieved since? Absolutely nothing. Apart, that is, from plenty of mud-slinging and yet more myth-making. Greek Cypriot politicians have implored the refugees to remain strong as a solution would soon be forthcoming. The Church reinforced this view. In addition, the retort ‘All refugees to their homes’ is another cruel fallacy along with the inference that those refugees resorting to the Immovable Property Commission in the north were as good as traitors to the ‘patriotic’ cause. The reality is that successive Greek Cypriot governments and politicians have made it abundantly clear that they’ve never been serious about a settlement and have merely gone through the motions for both domestic and international consumption. As for occasional references by these same politicians that the Turkish Cypriots are their ‘brothers’, this is fanciful in the extreme and ranks as insincerity in its crudest form.

That other great folklore that’s often quoted is that Greek and Turkish Cypriots lived in perfect harmony with one another and that any discord was encouraged and fomented by perfidious Albion during the EOKA struggle years. Television programmes such as Biz/Emeis foster this idea with octogenarian Cypriots recalling how each community used to visit one another’s houses and attended their respective religious festivals together.

All well and good but the reality was rather different. The village in the Karpas peninsula where my mother and grandmother were born was mixed and while there was no open hostility between the two communities, by and large they led very separate existences. To reinforce this reality, there was no intermarriage (There were exceptions but these were extremely rare occurrences).

The modus operandi of the Legislative Council confirms the above. This body was set up by the British colonial administration with the express aim of allowing a certain degree of involvement in the running of the island by the ‘natives’.

In the 1920s and early 1930s, there were 12 GC elected members, of whom my grandfather was one, and 3 TC members. Unsurprisingly, each community as often as not voted along partisan lines. Furthermore, my grandfather who was a passionate advocate of ENOSIS, Union with Greece, often clashed with his TC colleagues in the Council as they stated that Turkey had a much better claim on Cyprus. (These exchanges are there in black and white via the Cyrus Research Centre publication, ‘Texts and Studies of the History of Cyprus’. The nearest equivalent would be Hansard which publishes the daily goings-on in the British parliament).

In conclusion, the social and political differences between the two principal communities have existed since time immemorial and those who currently govern the island continue to ignore them and pursue the myth that Humpty Dumpty, barring one or two adjustments, can politically be put back together again and return to his former status and position on the wall. In the context of Cyprus, the reality is that there were always two such characters who fell off it. And even if their respective shells are indeed put back together again, ultimately they’re more likely to be sitting at opposite ends of the same wall rather than side by side – if not on two different walls.

Source: Cyprus Mail to read this article and comments and many more articles click here and we give thanks to Gavin Jones for wishing to share his article.