We are all prisoners of knowledge. To know how Cyprus was betrayed, and to have studied the record of that betrayal, is to make oneself unhappy and to spoil, perhaps for ever, one's pleasure for visiting one of the word's most enchanting
islands. Nothing will ever restore the looted treasures, the bereaved families, the plundered villages and the groves and hillsides scalded with napalm. Nor will anything mitigate the record of the callous and crude politicians who regarded Cyprus as something on which to scribble their inane and conceited designs. But fatalism would be the worst betrayal of all. The acceptance, the legitimization of what was done - those things must be repudiated. Such a refusal has a value beyond Cyprus in showing that acquiescence in injustice is not 'realism'. Once the injustice has been set down and described, and called by its right name, acquiescence in it becomes impossible. That is why one writes about Cyprus in sorrow but more - much more - in anger."
From "Hostage to History: Cyprus from the Ottomans to Kissinger" by Christopher Hitchens
I'm not sure I can adequately express the raw emotions and accompanying baggage that many Greeks including myself have about the tragedy of a divided Cyprus. I am deeply saddened by my adopted country's sordid role in the entire affair, both during the invasion and since. I am angered, but never surprised by Turkey's actions and continued intransigence, especially in light of its so-called comic masquerade as a "European democracy," and I am frustrated by the inability of Greeks, of all stripes, to develop a truly effective strategy to overcome the mistakes of past and set things right.The tragedy has been monumental in proportion, the loss of almost half the island, the uprooting of the indigenous population from lands that they occupied for three millenia, the deaths of so many during the invasion and even more significant the inability, after so much time, to account for over 1587 missing Cypriots. The Cypriot people have been truly heroic throughout the tortured history of the last 50 years. The have adapted and overcome. The have created an economic miracle in the unoccupied part of Cyprus, become a part of the European Union and created a vitality which stands in stark contrast to the depressing destruction and withered economy of the occupied north. The status quo is maintained by over 40,000 occupying Turkish troops and the introduction of thousands of "settlers" from mainland Turkey. Even many Turkish Cypriots are fed up.
Cyprus has a long history over the last three thousand years punctuated by war, devastation and foreign occupation. Under numerous rulers, the population of Cyprus retained a continuity in its cultural identity, assimilating foreign influences and making them part of the Greek culture of the island. During the thousands of years of its history there has never been a radical discontinuity
in the cultural identity of its population, and its heritage has been enriched around a common cultural identification. All that changed when the Turkish military invaded the island and proceeded to ethnically cleanse the occupied portion of the island. With the flight of the Greek population, Turkey succeeded in transforming the region, it ceased to be Greek, despite the fact that its Greekness had survived for over three thousand years of history and occupation. The changes were insiduous and struck at the very essence of region's strength, its Greek culture. What is happening in occupied Cyprus is the systematic destruction of a Greek region. The Turks are of course past masters at such techniques:
- Get rid of the people and you get rid of the language.
- Change the names of the villages and place names and you expunge their
- Remove the indigenous people so that their churches and schools remain empty and fall into disrepair, convert the rest into mosques. At least 55 churches have been converted into mosques, another 50 churches and monasteries have been converted into stables, stores, hotels, museums, or have been demolished.
- Stop teaching the Greek language and Greek culture in the schools.
- Erase Greek scripts, dispose of Greek school books, sell off works of art,
religious artifacts and icons, plunder archeological sites, steal the lands and homes that rightfully belong to Greek Cypriots. What can't be sold should be demolished and destroyed.
- Lastly, eliminate the last vestige of the Greek presence, the dead in the
village cemeteries and the graveside markers.
Even the stones cry out to the injustice and barbarity.
"Before the partition of the island many Greek Orthodox Christians came to Saint Andreas monastery on a pilgrimage. Today, the monastery is reminiscent of scenes from a surrealistic film: the large yard of the monastery is grimly empty. Two Turkish "policemen" are waiting to check and take down the personal details of tourists, who dared visit this distant and out of the way area. Two old women are sitting under the arches surrounded by a large family of cats. The faint sound of a hymn is heard from the church. Four women and three men, all well-advanced in age, are attending mass. The interior of the church is magnificent. Those who did not see the decoration of the church before the war, would not realize that the most valuable icons were stolen from here too. The priest reads the gospel to the scant congregation, in a firm and steady voice. As during the centuries of Ottoman rule, the Greek Orthodox priest becomes today savior and guardian of Greek civilization and tradition. But for how much longer?" (From "Where the Heavens are Plundered" by Klaus Gallas in Frankfurter Allgemeine Mgazin, March 30, 1990).
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