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27 May 2007

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Ted Laskaris

Stavros,
Congratulations on these expertly crafted posts on Cyprus.

The Cyprus "issue" has been largely abandoned by the "new pragmatic" Greece that surrounds us and President Tassos Papadopoulos is staging a lonely struggle to keep things under control re. the EU, Turkey, and all of our "friends and allies" looking for ways of legitimizing the Turkish Cypriot rump.

The photo of General Grivas reminded me of a truly surprising incident years ago when I was visiting briefly the Emerald Island, Ireland. We were traveling by car to see the villages and the countryside and we stopped at a pub for a drink and a bite. As soon as we sat at a table, my eye caught a black-and-white framed photo of a mustachioed man wearing a sweater and a beret and staring intensely into the camera hanging over the counter. It was a picture of General Grivas.

When I inquired with the pub owner, he said the photo had been brought back by his brother in the early sixties along with heroic stories of how EOKA had bloodied the British occupiers. They had then agreed to hang the picture in the pub to honor a man who had fought so valiantly against the oppressors of the Irish nation.

We got a round of pints of Irish stout on the house after that conversation!

By the way, General Grivas is hardly mentioned in this country on account of the Greek left's undying hatred for his person. Grivas had his own resistance organization during the Nazi occupation, a pro-royalist band called "X." He hunted communists with a passion and fought during the Battle of Athens to frustrate the Communist Party's attempt to take over the government by force of arms. He thus earned his place in the line-up of figures demonized by the communists and vilified to this day.

And, as you know, Americans with some exposure to things Cypriot also dismiss Grivas as a "terrorist" because of his uncompromising attitude toward the Turk.

Stavros

Ted,

Grivas is certainly someone that we need to know better. He was a soldier's soldier, along the lines of Nicholas Plastiras. He served with distinction in Asia Minor and World War II before returning to Cyprus.

Grivas wrote an excellent book called: "Guerrilla Warfare." One I would recommend to American as well as Greek warriors. Read this excerpt:

"Throughout the struggle I never ceased for a single moment to strive to hold the people's moral support. In this I was completely successful and my appeal always met with full response on the part of all the Greeks of the island, whatever the sacrifice demanded. Every call on my part was regarded by the population as an order to fulfil a national duty. My proclamations were looked upon as sacred documents. Every
man hastened to acquaint himself with their contents and to comply with them. My orders overrode the laws of the local British administration. In this way, I won the confidence of the Greek population of the island and every Greek Cypriot became a member of E o K A. The reply which the Mayor of Nicosia, Mr Dervis, gave the British
Governor is a good example. When the latter demanded that the inhabitants help to arrest members of EOKA, the Mayor replied:

'But we all belong to EOKA.'

The success of any revolutionary movement depends, amongst other things, on political vision, skill and diplomatic tact towards the population. Who wins over the people, has won half the battle. It is, of course, one of the qualities of a leader to distinguish what means he must employ for that end. One can lay down no rules, no ready-made prescriptions."


More can be found here:

http://www.cyprus-conflict.net/www.cyprus-conflict.net/grivas.html

Ted Laskaris

Stavros,
How right you are. Thanks for the link.

demonax

Ted
The links between EOKA and the IRA are interesting and go back to the 1950s when the British – rather stupidly – kept EOKA and IRA men in the same jails in England. The IRA men not only learned Greek from their EOKA cellmates, but also the urban guerrilla warfare tactics, which they deployed against the British in the 1970s and 1980s. One of the Irish nationalists sharing a jail with EOKA men was Sean Mac Stiofain, who founded the Provisional IRA and went on to become its Chief of Staff.
http://www.cyprus-mail.com/news/main.php?id=31960&cat_id=9
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seán_Mac_Stíofáin

Grivas is a hugely controversial figure in Cyprus too – and there was quite a rumpus recently when the visiting Archbishop Christodoulos performed the trisagion at his grave in Limassol. Grivas is regarded as a hero for his role in ending British colonial rule, but is condemned, if not despised (particularly by communist AKEL, which commands 30% of Cypriot votes), for establishing EOKA B, with the aim of bringing down Makarios, which of course it did in July ’74, six months after Grivas died, with catastrophic consequences. The refrain in Cyprus is that Grivas was a good soldier but a disastrous politician. Chris Hitchens in his book on Cyprus has Grivas down as a lackey of the CIA.

Hermes

Ted, that is an excellent resource. It should be printed free and distributed to every teenager in the Hellenic Eucemene.

Stavros

Demo,

There can be no doubt that Grivas was instrumental in the liberation struggle against Britain.

He had this to say about the Communists:

"For the whole Greek population of the island rallied round the Organization as a single man, burning with desire for combat, and every man gave what he could. The one exception was, needless to say, the Communist leadership, the mass of whose followers, however, deserted them: the only
ones who adhered by them were a few party officials and a small number of fanatics, whereas the great majority condemned their
leaders and joined in EOKA'S struggle."

The Communists have never fully supported Greek national interests and often they have subordinated those interests to their own goals. Grivas was staunchly anti-Communist, no wonder AKEL cannot forgive him.

Grivas had one goal and only one goal: enosis. He was unwavering and true to this goal until his death. If I am not mistaken Archbishop Makarios effectively gave up on enosis. We can argue about who was right and who was wrong but not about the patriotism of either man or their rightful place in Greek history.

Since when does a former Trotskyite like Hitchens have the last word on a man like Grivas? Strange that the Irish hang pictures of him in their pubs while Greeks would deny him a trisagion service.

Ted Laskaris

demo,
Thanks for the link and the info. You should have heard the pub owner and how reverently he spoke about Grivas. I gathered that the pub family must have been involved with the IRA -- the owner kept speaking of the "struggle" and how the Cypriots "knew" what it meant.

That particular traveling party included a Pasoka female doctor who was doing a specialty in London at the time. Her face grew so long over the Grivas talk that it was sweeping the floor. But she was badly outnumbered and she offered none of her socialist wisdom.

I guess the Grivas story will be forever tainted by the 1974 catastrophe and the role of EOKA B in it. Still, Grivas understood that there was no ground for mercy when fighting a war with the Turk and that makes him, at least in my book, a man of significant historical note.

Our local Greek pansies, having already agreed in their minds with surrender to the Turk via "Europe," justifiably see men like Grivas as demons from the deepest hell. And I say "bravo" to Christodoulos for offering the trisagion.

kosta

I wouldnt believe anything Hitchens says as he has a knack for blaming things the UK does on the US. As for Grivas I always found him a dubious actor Im not quite sure what to make of him actually. He was involved in all kinds of Right-Wing extremist groups the most famous Organisation X which was ultraRight pro-Royalist and I think his anti-British stance may have been an act of some kind. Most interesting thing I read was that both EOKA and TMT were actually controlled the UK and the real target of everything was Makarios and autonomous federation of the island(something they seemed to be working on before the mainland intervention). Some people say Makarios was pro-Soviet but thats ridiculous the USSR actually supported the Turkish invasion tacitly.

Stavros

I dislike the revisionist view of Grivas and the liberation struggle. Like all great men he was far from perfect but no one can deny that his campaign against the British was not only brilliant but also highly successful.

There is ample evidence to suggest that the British played Greek and Turkish Cypriots against each other for obvious reasons but to suggest that they controlled EOKA is ridiculous and unsubstantiated.

Archbishop Makarios tried to steer a course between the Cold War powers into the non-aligned camp but failed. Cyprus was just too strategically important. I agree that he was not pro-Soviet although he was depicted that way.

That's my two cents and probably worth as much. :)


kosta

Unfortunately we live in an age of minute rice nations and sometimes the microwave explodes.

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