Journal of Modern Greek Studies 20.1 (2002) 143-146
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Recent Perspectives on Cyprus
George Gregoriou, Cyprus: A View from the Diaspora. New York: Smyrna Press. 2000. Pp. 230 + index.
Chris Ioannides, Realpolitik in the Eastern Mediterranean: From Kissinger and the Cyprus Crisis to Carter and the Lifting of the Turkish Arms Embargo. New York: Pella. 2001. Pp. 523 + index.
Loukis Theocharides, The British Offer of Cyprus to Greece (1915). Nicosia: Kentro Epistimonikon Erevnon. 2000. Pp. 96.
P.N. Vanezis, Cyprus: Crime Without Punishment, second edition. Hong Kong: Regal. 2000. Pp. 332 + index.
Kostas Yennaris, Ex Anatolon. Athina: Kastaniotis. 2000. Pp. 365.
Three of these five volumes address contemporary aspects of the Cyprus problem and are written by Cypriot diaspora authors. A fourth book, by Yennaris, traces Turkey's policy on Cyprus to Pan-Turanic ideals, while a fifth volume, by Theocharides, examines a long neglected moment in the history of the island.
Theocharides's analysis is based on a variety of official documents and an extensive list of secondary sources and newspapers. The book examines the antecedents of the 1915 British offer of Cyprus to Greece, the offer itself and its rejection by Athens, how the offer was viewed in England and Greece, and the role of the press in this affair. In 1915, Cyprus was offered to Greece by Great Britain as part of its pursuit of Greek military assistance in Serbia during the Great War. This offer was ultimately rejected as a result of the on-going division between Royalists and Venizelists as well as the King's pro-German sympathies.
It was during this brief moment in the long history of Cyprus that Cypriots came perhaps closest to fulfilling their aspirations for unification with Greece. Venizelos considered the rejection of the British offer a national folly. Whatever the British motives behind this move, the author, as well as Professor Burrows who devised the scheme, believe that the offer recognized that the principle of nationality has a moral existence of its own, independent of other considerations. Sir George Hill, in his famous History of Cyprus (Cambridge University Press, 1940) concluded that the offer has not been forgotten by Greek Cypriots [End Page 143] (and may never be). Had it been accepted, the transfer could have peacefully resolved the problem of Cyprus and might have spared the island from the tragedy of 1974. This new volume by Theocharides may not break new ground on this incident, but it does a credible job of documenting how international political considerations defined the future of this troubled island.
Gregoriou's Cyprus: A View from the Diaspora does not so much present new information on the Cyprus problem as offer personal testimony by a political activist who was attracted to progressive causes in the late 1960s. As the author admits, his age of innocence came to an end in 1967, with the rise of the Junta in Greece and the subsequent struggle against "fascism in Greece and American imperialism in Vietnam" (11). Essentially, the author argues that, by this time, Britain had no interest in genuine self-government or self-determination in Cyprus. Instead, it applied its divide-and-rule policies and promoted, with American support, the partitioning of Cyprus. As the U.S. assumed a hegemonic role during the Cold War, it cooperated with client states like Greece and Turkey and with right-wing Greek governments in order to promote its security interests in the region. The conspiracy to partition Cyprus accelerated under the Greek Junta and necessitated the removal of President Makarios from power in 1974.
This type of analysis is characteristic of the revisionist historians and political scientists of the late 1960s and early 1970s but seems somewhat out of place in the current post-Cold War era. Rhetoric aside, however, Gregoriou identifies some bitter truths about the politics and actions of key players in Greece, the U.S., the U.K., and Cyprus during the years leading to the 1974 tragedy. Today, these same forces are working to legitimize the partition of Cyprus through the acceptance of the "realities...