|CYPRUS: A VIEW FROM THE DIASPORA|
REVIEW by Willard Manus
Cyprus' problems are far larger than the island itself.
Split in two between
Greek and Turk, Cyprus must also try and cope with the influence of Athens,
Ankara, Washington and London, not to speak of such warring internal forces
as militants and moderates, left and right, Christian and Muslim. It doesn't
help either that the island sits in the looming, dangerous shadows of
no dearth of literature dealing with the embattled island of Cyprus, ranging
from U.N. documents and Official Reports to the published work of politicians,
journalists and historians. Now another book must be added to this large
and contentious list: CYPRUS: A VIEW FROM THE DIASPORA, by George Gregoriou
(Smyrna Press, Box 1151, Union City, NJ 07087, $16).
Gregoriou, a political science professor at The William Paterson University of New Jersey, was born in Cyprus in 1936 into a nationalistic family; his father was interned by the colonial authorities during the insurrection in 1931. The family emigrated to the United States in 1950 but continued to support Cyprus' struggle for freedom, a link that led Gregoriou to the writing of this book.
Despite the book's subtitle, Gregoriou admits that he has really aimed his work at Greek Cypriots. "I am under no illusion that another book on Cyprus is necessary to convince the powers that be in London and Washington to change their policies on Cyprus...This is not my intention. I have tried to offer an analysis of the Cyprus problem by keeping close to the historical record, without mincing my words. The events in Cyprus and the actions of the enemies of the Greek Cypriots speak for themselves. All I have done here is to record these events, from the arrival of the British in 1878 to the turn of the 21st century. What the Greek Cypriots suffered due to British colonialism, the American hegemony in Greece, and the Western geopolitical strategies in the Eastern Mediterranean is a matter of record. But, I also deal with certain 'forbidden subjects,' particularly the political forces in Greece and Cyprus responsible for the events leading to the de facto partition in 1974 and the Anglo-American policies outside and inside the United Nations to legitimize the facts on the ground created by the Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus."
Gregoriou is a writer on the Left; his orientation comes out of a lifetime of devotion to progressive politics, democratic struggles and critical theory. He finds most mainstream theories on Cyprus "ideological claptrap" and admits that his writings are colored by his experience in the struggles against fascism in Greece and American imperialism in Vietnam.
But it would be wrong to associate his work with dogma and propaganda. Gregoriou writes calmly about Cyprus, avoiding emotionalism and jingoism. He backs up everything he says with logic and fact, and has the knack of being able to organize complex material and express himself in succinct, readable fashion; an admirable and rare trait in an academic.
The result is a book that throws light on the Cyprus problem in a clear, probing way--it's a kind of MRI of the island's ill-health. What's revealed is informative, telling and controversial. Many people who read this book are not going to like what it says, particularly those who work hard through Greek and Cypriot-oriented political and charitable organizations to try and lobby the American government to rethink its pro-Turkish stance.
What Gregoriou shows--and proves--is that the USA has always been opposed to the independence of Cyprus and will never allow it to happen, if only because such independence would undermine its imperialist policies in the eastern Aegean, policies that mirror the divide-and-rule philosophy learned from Britain. Concerned diaspora Cypriots and Greeks can hold rallies, go on marches, back political candidates and raise all the money in the world--it won't do a damn bit of good: the USA will never back down from its cynical and selfish position.
Gregoriou deals with much more than just Washington and London's intransigent Cyprus policies. His book is divided into four parts: Introductory Essays (including an overview entitled "A View From the Diaspora"); British Colonialism and Resistance (1878-1960); The Republic of Cyprus in Crisis, (1960-1974); and Occupation and Diplomacy (1974-2000). Such topics as EOKA and its place in history, the collapse of the Zurich settlement and the road to partition are thoroughly dissected and analyzed, with much space devoted to the epic power struggles between Grivas and Makarios.
Gregoriou began in life as a loyal nationalist, but eventually turned against both Grivas and Makarios for having "skirted around the historical antecedents forcing the Zurich settlement...The two nationalist factions are held hostage to the EOKA mythology, without examining the political and military implications of an undertaking initiated by both factions."
Gregoriou adds, "If the EOKA struggle was an adventurist interregnum in Cypriot history, for which the Greek Cypriots paid a heavy price, this cannot be swept under the rug...the majority of the Cypriots, including the Turkish Cypriots, were excluded from the anti-colonial struggle." This failure was a key factor in the tragedy that befell the island in 1974.
Let's give the final word on the book to Cypriot Takis Hadjidemetriou, MP, Social Democrat Movement: "George Gregoriou attempts to get to the bottom of things and seeks the dialectical relationship between the internal political life and international politics. The events taking place are intended to serve primarily the policies and interests of the American and British. For fifty years the author has been in the same trench, the same struggle, but with new thoughts and a much sharper and critical eye. The difficulties, problems, and obstacles ahead do not lead the author toward despair. On the contrary, they lead him where history is made, in the potential of a people manifested in their history, legacy, and civilization. The way out, he states, will not come from Washington or London. It will come from the people of Cyprus."