Padraig Colman

Rambling ruminations of an Irishman in Sri Lanka

Tag: Greece

Reconciliation in Cyprus

This article appeared in The Nation on Sunday, 22 July 2012

 

In 1878 Britain was granted control of Cyprus in exchange for giving military support to the Ottoman Empire against Russia. The first British High Commissioner to Cyprus was Sir Garnet Joseph Wolseley. The indigenous Greeks of the island in the 1881 census formed 73.9% of the population desired enosis to unite with Greece.

Cypriots believed British rule would bring prosperity, democracy and national liberation. However, the British levied severe taxes to cover the compensation they were paying to the Sultan. All powers were reserved to the High Commissioner and to London thwarting hopes of democracy for Cypriots.

 
The First World War ended protectorate status and Cyprus was annexed to the British Empire. Britain offered to cede Cyprus to Greece if they would fulfil treaty obligations to attack Bulgaria but Greece declined. Britain proclaimed Cyprus a Crown colony in 1925 under an undemocratic constitution.

 
Under the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 the new Turkish government formally recognised Britain’s sovereignty over Cyprus. Greek Cypriots continued to demand enosis achieved by many of the Aegean and Ionian islands following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. The British opposed enosis and unrest developed during the 1930s. The 1931 riots in Nicosia burnt down Government House.

The Governor Sir Richmond Palmer took suppressive measures against the Greeks and prohibited trade unions and limited freedom of association. Yet more than 30,000 Cypriots joined the British during World War II. After the war, there was international pressure for enosis and a delegation from Cyprus submitted a demand to London. The demand was rejected but the British proposed a liberal constitution and a 10-year development programme.

 
When international pressure did not suffice to make Britain respond, violence escalated with a campaign against the colonial power by EOKA (Ethniki Organosis Kyprion Agoniston). Its leader Colonel George Grivas created and directed a campaign in 1955. The first bombs were set off on April 1. Attacks on police started on June 19. The Governor proclaimed emergency on November 26.

For the next four years EOKA attacked British targets and British collaborative Cypriots. Archbishop Makarios and other Cypriot clergy and political leaders exiled. The Cyprus emergency cost the lives of 371 British servicemen – more than died in Afghanistan.

 
Turkish Cypriots in 1957 responded to the demand for enosis by calling for taksim partition. Taksim became the slogan used by the militant Turkish Cypriots to counter ‘enosis’. In 1957 Fazıl Küçük who represented Turkish Cypriots and later became vice-president of independent Cyprus, declared that Turkey would claim the northern half of the island.

The British were forced to take a different attitude after the Suez fiasco. They were no longer a convincing imperial power. Britain decided that independence was acceptable if military bases in Cyprus could be an alternative to Cyprus as a base. However Governor Sir Hugh Foot’s plan for self-government alarmed the Turkish community and violence between the two communities increased.

On August 16, 1960 Cyprus gained independence from Britain. Archbishop Makarios was elected the first president. In 1961 Cyprus became the 99th member of the UN. Independence did not bring reconciliation. Greek Cypriots argued that the complex mechanisms introduced to protect Turkish Cypriots’ interests were obstacles to efficient government and tried to exclude Turkish politicians. Both sides continued the violence. Turkish Cypriot participation in the central government ceased on December 23, 1963 when all Cypriot Turks from the lowest civil servants to ministers including the Turkish Vice-President Dr. Fazıl Küçük were out of the government. UN peacekeepers were deployed on the island in 1964 recognising the Greek Cypriots as the government. UK PM Sir Alec Douglas-Home said international intervention was essential.

In July 1974 Makarios was overthrown by a coup carried out by the Cypriot National Guard which supported the military dictators who had seized power in Athens. Turkey invaded Cyprus on July 20 and took control of 38% of the island. Greek Cypriots numbering 200,000 fled the northern areas and 60,000 Turkish Cypriots were transferred to northern occupied areas by the UN. Since then the southern part of the country has been under the control of the internationally recognised Cyprus government and the northern part occupied under a Turkish administration and the Turkish army. Turkey relocated 40,000 Turkish civilians to the occupied part of the island through coercive measures.

Historians such as Brendan O’Malley, Ian Craig, Lawrence Stern and  William Mallinson have argued that the US had a decade-long plan to partition Cyprus through external military intervention and that this plan was based on the strategic value of Cyprus as a military base and a source of intelligence.
When Cyprus applied to join the EU in May 2004 members of both communities (and citizens of EU) have been able to cross the buffer zone. An UN-sponsored referendum on reunification was held on April 21, 2004. Turkish Cypriots voted for UN plan as stated in the referendum but Greek Cypriots rejected it by a large majority.

The first election was held in 2008 after Cyprus’s accession to the EU and the failed referendum. Dimitris Christofias of the communist party became president and started talks with on the reunification of Cyprus as a bizonal federal state. His hopes for Greek Cypriot approval of such a plan were thwarted by the nationalists’ victory in the 2009 elections. Turkey’s own bid for EU membership has been thwarted and they may now have given up. EU membership was a strong factor in reconciliation Ireland but that avenue seems to have closed for Cyprus.

Although Northern Cyprus has been a de jure member of the EU since 2004, EU law is ‘suspended’ there. Cyprus currently holds the EU presidency for the first time. President Christofias has stressed that the Cyprus Presidency would be a European Presidency and that it would only promote the EU’s interests as a whole working as an honest broker. Cyprus is the fifth state to ask for an EU bailout. According to Standard and Poors 15 billion euros would be needed. There is fear that the main victim of the Cyprus EU Presidency will be the ongoing re-unification talks.

On July 19 2012 Christofias welcomed an agreement to identify missing persons who were believed to have been exhumed. The President announced that soon the first 280 samples of remains believed to belong to about 70 missing persons would be delivered to the International Commission on Missing Persons. He also said that the remains of 330 missing persons had been identified, 66 of whom were Turkish Cypriots and the rest Greek Cypriots. He stressed that the healing process for the families of missing persons would only end when the remains of the last victims was identified on the basis of international law. The European Court of Human Rights established that there had been continuing violations by Turkey of Articles 2, 3 and 5 of the Convention concerning the right to life, liberty and security and prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment. Turkey was found to have failed to conduct an effective investigation into the fate of the Greek Cypriot missing persons disappeared in life-threatening circumstances or were in Turkish custody at the time of their disappearance.

Mehmet Ali Talat, a leftist like Christofias, was  president until 2010 of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. He said he wanted a Cypriot federation with a central government and a shared flag but “the Greek Cypriots aren’t cooperating.” The north has increasingly attracted undesirable elements. Turkish Cyprus attracts fugitives seeking sanctuary in a territory without extradition arrangements, smugglers, human traffickers and gamblers. Electricians, plumbers and bricklayers crossed the border to work in EU territory. Some 80,000 Turkish Cypriots or about one-third of the population in the north now have EU passports.

 

 

– See more at: http://www.nation.lk/edition/international/item/8501-reconciliation-in-cyprus.html#sthash.31zF2PoW.dpuf

 

Inequality -Europe and the Precariat

A version of this article appeared in the July 2014 issue of Echelon magazine

 

European Values and Inequality

In theory, the core of the EU project was opportunity. Free movement, competition, a single market and non-discrimination should be pillars of an equal society. Nevertheless, socio-economic inequalities in Europe are greater today than in the 1980s and many who oppose free movement were recently elected to the European Parliament.

 

Five years of austerity policies have led to a further deterioration of living standards. Europe’s social model of welfare will no longer be sustainable if a majority of citizens can barely scrape by and have no security or opportunity. In Greece, infant mortality is up 43% because of stringent cuts to healthcare services. In Spain, over 400,000 families lost their homes. There were 4.5million people in Ireland on Census night (10th April 2011). There are an estimated 1,300 ghost estates in Ireland with 300,000 houses lying empty. There are plans to demolish these estates. In 2012, Focus Ireland, a charity for homeless people dealt with 8,000 customers.

 

Spending on education has effectively dropped in most EU countries. Youth unemployment affects a quarter of young Europeans and in Greece and Spain, 50% of the young are unemployed.

A study launched by UK deputy PM (at time of writing) Nick Clegg (educated at the private Westminster School and Cambridge University), shows that in Britain, one child in five is on free school meals. Only seven per cent of children attend private schools, but these schools provide 70 per cent of High Court judges and 54 per cent of FTSE 100 CEOs.

David Boyle, a fellow at the New Economics Foundation think-tank, warned that rising property prices would effectively render the middle classes extinct as the dream of home ownership becomes ever more distant. The “squeezed middle”, would need to take three or four jobs just to make ends meet and no longer have time for cultural activities.

Causes of Inequality

Over the last few decades, large international corporations have been powerful generators of inequality. By the early 1980s, the CEOs of the largest 350 US companies were getting 30 times as much as the average production worker. By the start of the 21st century, they were getting between 200 and 400 times as much. Among the 100 largest UK companies, the average CEO received 300 times the minimum wage.

The EU encourages cuts in social spending, even presenting them as preconditions of recovery. They argue that recovery depends on “employer-friendly practices”. “Labour flexibility” really means crushing trade unions. More than a third of all workers in the private sector were union members forty years ago; now, fewer than seven percent are members of a trade union. France and Spain used to have powerful unions, but today less than ten per cent of their workforce is unionised.

Precariat

Employment is becoming increasingly unstable. Privatisation of government services, short-term and part-time contracts, temping agencies and low wages undermine job security. The British economist Guy Standing has coined the term precariat. Professor Standing argues that the dynamics of globalization have led to a fragmentation of older class divisions. The precariat consists of temporary and part-time workers, interns, call-centre employees, sub-contracted labour – those who are engaged in insecure forms of labour that are unlikely to help them build a desirable identity or career or guarantee them secure accommodation.

Spirit Level and Malignant Growth

The Spirit Level is a book by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, published in 2009. The book argues that there are “pernicious effects that inequality has on societies: eroding trust, increasing anxiety and illness, (and) encouraging excessive consumption”. The authors claim that for each of eleven different health and social problems: physical health, mental health, drug abuse, education, imprisonment, obesity, social mobility, trust and community life, violence, teenage pregnancies, and child well-being, outcomes are significantly worse in unequal rich countries.

Piketty

Capital in the 21st Century, by French economist Thomas Piketty, focuses on wealth and income inequality in Europe and the US since the 18th century. The book’s central thesis is that inequality is not an accident but rather a feature of capitalism that requires state intervention to reverse. The book argues that unless capitalism is reformed, the democratic order is in danger.

Piketty predicts that the rise in inequality under neoliberalism will increase throughout the 21st century, reaching Victorian levels by 2050. He argues that if growth is low, labour’s bargaining power weak, and the returns on capital high, this will encourage speculation rather than entrepreneurial risk-taking or working hard to accumulate wealth.

Arguments against Promoting Equality

Companies are reluctant to implement equality measures because of what they see as heavy costs, which reduce their profit margins and impede their investment capacity. Equality and anti-discrimination contradict the ‘freedom’ of their enterprise, as executives would not be free to hire and do business the way they choose. They argue that inequality is not systemic but a failure of individuals to be resilient.

The engine of the neo-liberal system is widespread discrimination, and inequalities of class and geographical location. Globalisation so far has ensured that cheaper labour can always be found somewhere else. Some entrepreneurs have been cynical enough to claim that discrimination makes perfect business sense and should be acknowledged as such. From this perspective, removing inequalities would bring this very profitable system (for a few) to collapse.

Arguments for Equality

Almost all production and wealth creation is the result of cooperation. Society as a whole and its infrastructure contributes to everyone’s income and living standards. Accumulated technical and scientific knowledge, an educated population, transport systems and electricity supplies help the wealthy to become and remain wealthy. The combined efforts of vast numbers of people affect the living standards of even the rich.

Promoting equality is an investment. Excluding able individuals entails a huge loss of talent and skill when the economy needs to harness all potential creativity. A 2012 talent shortage survey found that around one in three employers around the world found it difficult to fill vacancies. Talent is often wasted because of discrimination.

Conclusion

In a speech to the Sutton Trust, Mr Clegg admitted that the Coalition “cannot afford” to leave a legacy like the current position. “Morally, economically, socially: whatever your justification, the price is too high to pay. We must create a more dynamic society.” Clegg’s statement is part of thetherapeutic management of inequality”- the officially sanctioned smokescreen of seeming to promote fairness, social justice, social equality, and equal access to education. A fear of what UK PM David Cameron called a “broken society” is the organising principle behind a wide range of measures to regulate supposedly dysfunctional behaviour. The “middle” sees itself as living in a nightmare world being ripped apart by greedy bankers at one extreme and sub-human Chav ‘trailer trash’ at the other.

Standing noted that, lacking any work-based identity, or sense of belonging to a labour community, the psychology of the precariat is liable to be determined by anger, anomie, anxiety, and alienation. Perhaps the precariat will rise up but they are not the real vandals. The one per cent or ten per cent’s constant looting of the middle classes as well as the working class engenders resentment. In a context of too much debt and slow or no growth, austerity weakens the body politic rather than strengthening it. Austerity only really helps those who are wealthy enough to take advantage cheaper asset prices and sell the assets back later.

The EU needs to remember its founding principles and take action to complete the banking union, protect small savers from the banksters, create decent jobs, implement a realistic investment policy, and protect consumers and the environment. Equality must be at the heart of every European policy.

 

It’s all Greek to me!

This article was published in The Nation on December 25 2011

 

 

Beware of Greeks bearing gifts. Democracy is often thought of as a gift from ancient Greece. Athens is one of the first known democracies – functioning around 508 BC. Other Greek city states set up democracies, and most followed an Athenian model – an experiment in direct democracy, where the people do not elect representatives to vote on their behalf but vote in their own right on legislation and executive bills. This did not mean universal suffrage, but participation did not depend on economic status.

 
There is little connection between the democratic city-states of classical times and the Greece of 2011. The nation as it is today is very different and its geography makes it somewhat difficult to administer. Modern Greece has a population of nearly eleven million and the nation is spread over many distant islands as well as the mainland. The main ethnic groups are Greeks 93.76%, Albanians 4.32%, Bulgarians 0.39%, Romanians 0.23%, Ukrainians 0.18%, Pakistani 0.14%, Russians 0.12%, Georgians 0.12%, Indians 0.09% and others 0.65%.Two-thirds of the population live in urban areas, with Athens having four million residents.

 
Greece is linguistically homogeneous, with most people using Greek as their first or only language. However, former PM Papandreou was not comfortable with the language, having spent much of his life in exile. Gia tis kalpes! he was supposed to say.”To the ballot boxes” ! What he said was Gia tis kaltses! “To the socks!”

 

 
Greece became independent in 1830, but foreign interference kept the fragile fledgling nation in a servile condition, bullying it into joining the global capitalist economy. Before the modern Greek state assumed its present form after the First World War, communities in the trading cities already had a long history of running their own school systems, hospitals, and orphanages. Through local and communal organisation, by the mid to late nineteenth century, the Greeks were one of the most prosperous and dynamic groups in Southeast Europe.

 

 
As the Greek state expanded, it undermined that spirit of local autonomy and self-sufficiency but did not replace it with centralised competence. In the 1920s, autonomous local elites were replaced by a new group of people skilled at forging a relationship with the state. The new local leaders built up party machines by channelling funds from central government, which was heavily complicit in the patronage culture.

 
After the Second World War, the nation-state continued to be weak and failed to build a resilient system of social protection. The Greek political system has always been authoritarian and centralised, artificially imposed on a fragmented society traditionally centred on local loyalties, the extended family and community values. This has been the recipe, as in Ireland and Sri Lanka, for a politics of clientelism, cronyism, nepotism and corruption. Greece has its mudalalis and Gombeen men. The Greeks have resigned themselves to the lack of a responsive bureaucracy able to shape economic and social development.

 
EU funding only exacerbated patronage politics. According to Eurostat, public payroll expenses rose in Greece from 38% of state revenue in 2000 to 55% in 2009. Local elites became hostile to coherent national reform. In the mid-2000s, a local alliance in Salonika successfully resisted the granting of a concession to a major international port operator, to retain management of it themselves.

 
Writing in Foreign Affairs, Antonis Kamaras has hope for a return to tradition: “A majority of Greeks today cannot see a way out of the pit their country is in. But they need only look to their grandparents to find a way out… By decentralising, the Athens government will both revive the nation’s distinguished legacy of local autonomy and move the country closer to the European norm in terms of delegation of power and authority.” He also recommends marshalling resources and know-how from the extensive Greek diaspora.

 
Kamaras may be deluding himself when he calls for local institutions to be “pushed into the non-profit sector”. Although the Washington Consensus has clearly been a disaster, its acolytes are now taking over power from elected politicians and demanding austerity measures which punish the victims and reward the culprits. Traditionally strong family ties are collapsing and the Greek state is unable to help. Before the financial crisis, Greece had the lowest suicide rate in Europe at 2.8 per 100,000 inhabitants. Statistics released by the Greek Ministry of Health show a 40% rise in suicides between January and May compared to the same period last year.

 

 
Robert Reich asked on Huffington Post: “Which do you trust more: democracy or financial markets? Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou decided in favour of democracy …when he announced a national referendum on the draconian budget cuts Europe and the IMF are demanding from Greece in return for bailing it out.” Reich believed that, “without the austerity measures the rest of Europe and the IMF are demanding, the Greek economy has a better chance of growing and more Greeks are likely to find jobs.” He asked: “Shouldn’t Greeks be able to make this decision for themselves?… So which is it? Rule by democracy or by financial markets? Based on what’s happened in America, I’d choose the former.”

 
Reich was too optimistic. Merkel and Sarkozy quickly stamped on this exercise of democracy. Papandreou was replaced by Lucas Papademos, a former vice-president of the European Central Bank, who promptly installed in the government a far-right group banned since the military government lost power in 1974. Nevertheless, opinion polls showed voters were resigned to the new arrangement. This might be a weary acceptance that a technocratic administration might be preferable to scoundrel politicians. Greek politicians rarely venture out in public, and when they do, even the most obscure MP has a bodyguard. Even foreign interference might guarantee an honest and competent government acting in the interests of the country.

 

 

 

 

Beware of Greeks Bearing Good News

This article appeared in the March 2014 edition of Echelon magazine.

Greece takes on the Presidency of the Council of the EU

It is not so long ago that there was much talk about Grexit – Greek exit from the eurozone and possibly the EU itself. Now Greece holds the Presidency of the Council of the EU. Every six months a member state of the EU holds the Presidency of the Council of the EU and presides over its work. This is not to be confused with President of the European Council (current incumbent Herman Van Rompuy) or the President of the European Commission (currently José Manuel Barroso). During the time a state holds the Presidency of the Council, it plays host to the majority of the EU’s events and plays a key role in the activities of the EU. It is responsible for organising EU meetings, setting the Union’s political agenda and ensuring its development, integration and security.

As I write, Greece holds the Presidency from January-June 2014. The Greek government will have to lead hundreds of meetings, conduct complex negotiations, and host 13 ministerial councils in Athens. The Greeks will have to manage with a budget for the next six months that is about 40 percent lower than that of the previous presidency. Greece’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dimitris Kourkoulas, announced, to show what good managers Greeks could be, that he planned to make do with an even less than the allocation.

Panagiotis Ioakeimidis, professor for European policy at the University of Athens believes the presidency will give Greece the opportunity to improve its image within Europe and restore the credibility it has lost in recent years. Greek Deputy Prime Minister Evangelos Venizelos insisted that Greece was not thinking of its domestic priorities, but of those of the EU. The EU parliamentary elections in May are likely to bring a new political balance and a rise in euroscepticism and representation for far right groups.

Greece’s Prime Minister Antonis Samaras declared: “Greece starts the EU presidency on a positive record, with a primary surplus and an imminent recovery. This is going to be a presidency of hope – hope for more Europe, and hope for a better Europe.”  Athens seems to want to do whatever it takes to show that Greece is on the path to recovery, reminiscent of what Ireland did last year when it held the presidency of the EU. Hit by the economic crisis, Ireland was in an ideal position to lead the way in driving forward policies and legislation on core priorities of jobs, stability and growth. Getting agreement on the €960 billion Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) budget for 2014-2020 was arguably the Irish Presidency’s greatest achievement. The budget is effectively an investment in key policy areas that will help boost growth and create jobs in all Member States. By December, Ireland became the first EU member to exit its bailout.

 

Few believe at this stage that Athens can make good. The latest figures show a jobless rate of 27.4%, with youth unemployment standing at 59.6%. Critics say the average Greek on the Athens omnibus does not perceive improvement and the upcoming municipal elections, which will take place at the same time of the EU parliamentary elections in May, might show the crisis is not over. Austerity policies have shrunk the labour market by 21%, throwing 40% of the workforce out of the national insurance system.

 

The state holding the presidency should not push through their own interest. Nonetheless, Greece started its six months in charge by declaring that the imposition of austerity by Berlin and Brussels could no longer be tolerated. One of the first things the new presidency will have to do is renegotiate with the Troika about itself. Greece will also have to reach an agreement with the rest of the eurozone on how to finance its debts beyond 2014, when the current aid program ends.

This will be Athens’ fifth run in the rotating presidency. Previously, they tried to advance a socially conscious agenda, albeit with moderate success. In 1988, Andreas Papandreou pushed for a European Social Charter, which only a year later became a reality under the French presidency. In 1994, Athens’ social agenda was set aside in the face of negotiations for an enlargement of the EU to the north. In 2014, in particular, Greece wants to devote attention to youth unemployment and EU subsidies to get young people into jobs. Greece plans to focus on proposals for a banking union and amending the data protection act, and the policy of particular importance to its own interests – growth.

According to figures from the Greek Finance Ministry, 98% of EU bailout funds have been directed back to Greece’s lenders, rescuing French and German banks, while only 1.6% of the money from the European Stability Mechanism’s flows into the real Greek economy. Officials are lethargic about pursuing tax evaders — including the 2,000 prominent Greeks with Swiss bank accounts on a list provided to the Athens government by IMF managing director Christine Lagarde.

In order to maintain the pretence that Greece has turned the corner and is on the road to recovery, EU and Greek officials celebrated the beginning of the EU presidency amid draconian security and a ban on public demonstrations. Nigel Farage of the Eurosceptic UKIP became a hero to Greeks when he told PM Samaras “I must congratulate you for getting the Greek presidency off to such a cracking start.” Farage said Samaras should drop his party’s name, New Democracy. “I suggest you call it No Democracy because Greece is now under foreign control. You can’t make any decisions, you have been bailed out and you have surrendered democracy, the thing your country invented in the first place.”

Although Venizelos warned of the growing appeal of neo-Nazis, there is a strong folk-memory of what German Nazis did to Greece during World War II. There is rising anti-German feeling in Greece, even though, in the year up to August 2013 Germans were the biggest spenders among visitors to Greece, with a total of 541 million euros. Angela Merkel is seen as the architect of the austerity policies that are hurting Greeks. Merkel, whose steering of the euro crisis propelled her to soaring popularity at home and a third term, has become increasingly resented in the rest of the EU. Greek newspapers regularly run articles on how much money Germany owes Greece. There is persistent resentment over hundreds of billions of euros in reparations that Greeks say Germany owes the country from World War II, money that some say should go toward helping to forgive Greece’s debt. Just before the Greek Presidency was due to begin, a gunman sprayed the German Ambassador’s residence in Athens with bullets.

Some critics question the wisdom of the rotating presidency. Greece was the recipient of the EU’s biggest bailout. Other EU states were anxious when Cyprus, a bankrupt member, whose economy represents a mere 0.2% of the eurozone, led policy-making just when Europe faced its greatest hour of need. Barely a week before taking over the presidency, Cyprus was forced to follow Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain in resorting to the EU and IMF for emergency financial assistance. Another economically weak country, Italy, takes over the presidency in July 2014. Italy is not relying on money from the bailout fund, but it too is suffering from a recession and is heavily in debt. After Italy, Latvia, the newest member to join the eurozone, takes over. In 2008, Latvia lost a full quarter of its economic output and during its recovery lost 8.5% of its population.

George Soros wrote, “What was meant to be a voluntary association of equal states has now been transformed by the euro crisis into a relationship between creditor and debtor countries that is neither voluntary nor equal. Indeed, the euro could destroy the EU altogether.”

 

 

Reconciliation in Cyprus

Many of the conflicts that I have described in these articles on reconciliation have not been helped by  colonisation. In 1878, Britain was granted control of Cyprus in exchange for giving military support to the Ottoman Empire against Russia. The first British High Commissioner was  Sir Garnet Joseph Wolseley. The indigenous Greeks of the island, who in the 1881 census formed 73.9% of the population, desired enosis,  to unite with Greece.


Cypriots initially believed  British rule would bring  prosperity, democracy and national liberation. However, the  British levied severe taxes to cover the compensation which they were paying to the Sultan. All powers were reserved to the High Commissioner and to London, thwarting hopes of participatory democracy for Cypriots.
The First World War ended protectorate status and Cyprus was annexed to the British Empire. Britain offered to cede Cyprus to Greece if they would fulfil treaty obligations to attack Bulgaria, but Greece declined. Britain proclaimed Cyprus a Crown colony in 1925 under an undemocratic constitution.
Under the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 the new Turkish government formally recognised Britain’s sovereignty over Cyprus. Greek Cypriots continued to demand  enosis ,which had been  achieved by  many of the Aegean and Ionian islands following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. The  British opposed enosis and unrest  developed rapidly during the 1930s. There were riots in Nicosia in 1931 during which Government House was burnt down.
The Governor, Sir Richmond Palmer, took a number of suppressive measures against the  Greek population and prohibited trade unions and limited freedom of association. In spite of this more than thirty thousand Cypriots joined the British armed forces during the Second World War.


After the war, there was increasing international pressure for enosis and a delegation from Cyprus submitted a demand to London. The demand was rejected but the British proposed a more liberal constitution and a ten-year programme of social and economic development.
When international pressure did not suffice to make Britain respond, violence escalated with a campaign against the colonial power organised by EOKA (Ethniki Organosis Kyprion Agoniston). Its leader, Colonel George Grivas created and directed an effective campaign beginning in 1955. The first bombs were set off on April 1. Attacks on police stations started on June 19. The Governor proclaimed a State of Emergency on 26 November.


For the next four years EOKA attacked British targets and those Cypriots it accused of collaboration. Archbishop Makarios and other Cypriot clergy and political leaders were forced into exile. The Cyprus emergency cost the lives of 371 British servicemen, more than have died in Afghanistan.
Turkish Cypriots in 1957 responded to the demand for enosis  by calling for  taksim, partition.  Taksim became the slogan which was used by the increasingly militant Turkish Cypriots to counter the Greek cry of ‘enosis’. In 1957 Fazıl Küçük, who represented Turkish Cypriots and later became vice-president of independent Cyprus, declared during a visit to Ankara that Turkey would claim the northern half of the island.


The British were forced to take a different attitude after the Suez fiasco demonstrated that they were no longer a convincing imperial power. Britain  decided that independence was acceptable if military  bases in Cyprus could be an  alternative to Cyprus as a base. However, Governor  Sir Hugh Foot’s plan for unitary self-government alarmed the Turkish community and violence between the two communities became  a new and deadly feature of the situation.


On August 16, 1960 Cyprus gained its independence from Britain. Archbishop Makarios was elected the first president. In 1961 Cyprus became the 99th member of the UN. Independence  did not bring reconciliation. Greek Cypriots argued that the complex mechanisms introduced to protect Turkish Cypriot interests were obstacles to efficient government and tried to exclude Turkish politicians. Both sides continued the violence. Turkish Cypriot participation in the central government ceased on December 23, 1963, when all Cypriot Turks from the lowest civil servants to ministers, including the Turkish Vice-President Dr Fazıl Küçük, were out of the government. UN peacekeepers were deployed on the island in 1964, effectively recognising the Greek Cypriots as the government. UK PM Sir Alec Douglas-Home said international intervention was essential: “There would probably have been a massacre of Turkish Cypriots” which were confined in enclaves totaling little more than 3% of the island.


In July 1974, Makarios was overthrown by a coup carried out by the Cypriot National Guard which supported the military dictators who had seized power in Athens. Turkey invaded Cyprus on July 20 and  took control of 38% of the island. 200,000 Greek Cypriots fled the northern areas and  60,000 Turkish Cypriots were transferred to northern occupied areas by the UN. Since then, the southern part of the country has been under the control of the internationally recognised Cyprus government and the northern part occupied under a Turkish administration and the Turkish army. Turkey relocated 40,000 Turkish civilians to the occupied part of the island through coercive measures, meaning that now only 45% of the Turkish population were actually born on Cyprus.


Many have accused Britain of its customary divide and rule tactics. Nicos Koshis, a former justice minister, said: “It is my feeling they wanted to have fighting between the two sides. They didn’t want us to get together. If the communities come together maybe in the future we say no bases in Cyprus.” Martin Packard, a naval intelligence officer, told Jolyon Jenkins of the BBC that in 1964 he had to take US acting secretary of state George Ball, around the island. Arriving back in Nicosia, says Packard, “Ball patted me on the back, as though I were sadly deluded and he said: That was a fantastic show son, but you’ve got it all wrong, hasn’t anyone told you that our plan here is for partition?”
Historians such as Brendan O’Malley, Ian Craig, Lawrence Stern and  William Mallinson have argued that the U.S. had a continuous, decade-long plan to partition Cyprus through external military intervention and that this plan was based on the strategic value of Cyprus as a military base and source of intelligence. Caroline Wenzke and Dan Lindley  disagree: “While the U.S.’s rationale was not always commendable or favourable to the Cypriot people and at times the State Department’s
decisions may merit criticism, the U.S. did not orchestrate a decade-long conspiracy to protect its own interests on the island.”

When Cyprus applied  to join the EU in May 2004, members of both communities (and citizens of EU) have been able to cross the buffer zone. A UN-sponsored referendum on reunification was held on 21 April 2004. Turkish Cypriots voted to accept the UN plan as stated in the referendum, but Greek Cypriots rejected it by a large majority.


The first elections to take place after Cyprus’s accession to the EU and the failed referendum, were in 2008. Dimitris Christofias of the communist party became president and  started talks with on the reunification of Cyprus as a bizonal federal state. His hopes for Greek Cypriot approval of such a plan were thwarted  by the nationalists’ victory in the 2009 parliamentary elections. Turkey’s own bid for EU membership has constantly been thwarted and they may now have given up. EU membership was a strong factor in reconciliation for the island of Ireland but that avenue seems to have closed for Cyprus.
Although Northern Cyprus has been a de jure  member of the EU since 2004, EU law is “suspended” there. Cyprus currently holds the EU presidency for the first time. President Christofias has stressed that the Cyprus Presidency will be a European Presidency, that it would only promote the EU’s interests as a whole, working as an honest broker. Cyprus is the fifth state to ask for a EU bailout. Standard and Poors estimate 15 billion euro will be needed. There is growing fear that the main victim of the Cyprus EU Presidency will be the ongoing re-unification talks.
On July 19 2012, Christofias welcomed an agreement which will continue the identification process of exhumed remains, believed to belong to missing persons in Cyprus. The President announced that soon the first 280 samples of remains, believed to belong to about 70 missing persons, will be delivered to the International Commission on Missing Persons. He also said that the remains of 330 missing persons have been identified, 66 of whom are Turkish Cypriots and the rest Greek Cypriots. He stressed that the healing process for the families of missing persons will only end when the remains of the last of those victims are identified, on the basis of international law. The European Court of Human Rights established that there had been continuing violations by Turkey of Articles 2, 3 and 5 of the Convention concerning the right to life, liberty and security and prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment. Turkey was found to have failed to conduct an effective investigation into the fate of the Greek Cypriot missing persons who disappeared in life-threatening circumstances or were in Turkish custody at the time of their disappearance.
Mehmet Ali Talat, a leftist like  Christofias, was  president until 2010 of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. He said  he wanted a Cypriot federation with a central government and a shared flag  but “the Greek Cypriots aren’t cooperating.” The north has increasingly attracted undesirable elements. Turkish Cyprus attracts fugitives seeking sanctuary in a territory without extradition arrangements, smugglers, human traffickers and gamblers. Electricians, plumbers and bricklayers cross the border to work in  EU territory. Some 80,000 Turkish Cypriots, or about one-third of the population in the north, now have EU passports. They can obtain health insurance and medical treatment in the south, and board direct flights to other countries.
Nicosia is internationally recognised as the capital of Cyprus but buffer zone runs through Ledra Street dividing Greeks and Turks, although the street was re-opened on 3 April 2008.
Eleni Mavrou, a Greek Cypriot MP said in 2005: “Reconciliation means facing our past. It involves accepting the mistakes of  the other side and accepting that both sides have suffered in one way or another and through this process facing the future. It means understanding that we cannot continue living in the past so we should concentrate on the possibility, the capability of creating something together for the future. In the political realm, it means a dialogue that should lead to an agreement on the future constitutional, territorial, settlement of the Cyprus problem.

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