Painful dilemmas

Analysts, politicians, economists and journalists are all having their say at the expense of the Cypriot economy. The loudest noise is coming from Greece, in a sense that was to be expected. But in spite of the grim predictions, Cyprus will survive as it did after the Turkish invasion of 1974. One new development in recent days, on the other hand, is the nascent rupture – mainly psychological – in ties between Greece and Cyprus.

The major problem in Greek-Cypriot relations is that governments in Athens have not been able to manage the explosive irredentism of Greek Cypriots. A similar thing happened in the past with the Cretans, which shook the second Greek dynasty and the establishment at the time. The crisis was overcome by King George I’s decision to appoint Eleftherios Venizelos prime minister. Then a fresh dispute emerged that led to the schism and the Asia Minor disaster.

A different, but no less significant, problem was the failure to strike a balance not only in the relations between Greece and Cyprus but on a domestic level in both countries. In the spring of 1955, Panayiotis Pipinelis, the most authentic representative of the Greek status quo, wrote two front-page articles in Kathimerini where he emphasized that following Greece’s failed bid at the United Nations, the Greek side should try to work out a solution with the British.

Nevertheless, on April 1, 1955, EOKA led by a right-wing retired colonel, Georgios Grivas (also known as Digenis), carried out the first bomb attack in Nicosia. Failure of ideologically akin players of the Greek establishment to hammer out a common policy was blatant.

Another problem was the endless crises within Greek administrations – both during democracies and dictatorships – since the independence of the Cyprus Republic and up to the present, as well as the civil conflict in Cyprus between the supporters of Grivas and Archbishop Makarios.

This time, Athens and Nicosia both made mistakes, but that is no excuse for consolidating the rupture. President Nicos Anastasiades is determined to investigate and punish those who are responsible for what happened in Cyprus. Athens officials should be sure of that. He believes no progress can be achieved without dismantling the rotten establishment first.

Athens is clearly faced with painful dilemmas. The Cypriots are stubborn people. Greek governments have in the past found it hard to deal with Nicosia’s vitality.

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