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  • Cyprus: The Post-Imperial Constitution
  • Yannis Stivachtis (bio)
Vassilis K. Fouskas and Alex O. Tackie: Cyprus: The Post-Imperial Constitution. London: Pluto Press, 2009. 128 pages. ISBN 978-0-7453-2935-2. $14.00 (paperback).

With this volume, Vassilis Fouskas and Alex Tackie have achieved the rare distinction of bringing the world of international politics into a short publication. Written in a very clear and concise way, this book manages to capture the attention of its readers as well as provide them with a very clear understanding of the Cyprus question and the strategic interests surrounding it.

The purpose of Cyprus: The Post-Imperial Constitution is twofold: first, to criticize the constitutional arrangements that have governed Cyprus from 1958–60 to date; and second, to indicate what both the Greek and Turkish Cypriots can do in order to reach a postimperial constitutional understanding. According to the authors, only such an [End Page 118] understanding could pave the way for a new era of peaceful interfaith and interethnic coexistence on the island.

This is a very well-written and well-structured book. It is divided into three chapters that are preceded by a very comprehensive introduction that sets the tone of the discussion that follows and frames the arguments that are advanced. The first chapter examines the ways in which Britain has historically contributed to the current state of affairs in Cyprus. It is argued that the Cypriot constitution was written in such a way as to make it unworkable in case the Greek and Turkish Cypriots did not agree. In such a case, constitutional deadlock and intercommunal disputes would provide fertile ground for British interference. Hence, there is no surprise that imperial Britain pitted the minority Turkish Cypriots against the majority Greek Cypriots in order to obtain strategic benefits in and around Cyprus. From a realist perspective, given the strategic position of Cyprus and British interests in the Middle East and North Africa, British policy should not be a surprise to anyone, especially to a Greek, since Greece itself faced a similar situation when it became an independent state in the 1820s.

The second chapter examines the post-1974 historical period and substantiates further the strategic importance of the island for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's imperial interests. This is the most important part of the volume, for two reasons. First, it is in this chapter that the authors introduce the book's central concepts, namely humbug and garrison-prison state. Humbug is defined as a professional discourse that is disinterested in the truth. Although not lies, humbug, according to Fouskas and Tackie, is worse than lies, because "it aims at creating a politically subservient subjecthood that accepts imperial rule as the only rule." Fouskas and Tackie argue that great powers and various political circles have used humbug in order to push for a constitutional arrangement in Cyprus that would perpetuate foreign interference, thereby serving the interests of imperial powers.

The authors suggest that humbug represents the "realism" of neoliberals and constructivists and that this discourse has penetrated sections of the Cypriot and European left. At the same time, the authors argue that the rise to power of two left-wing parties in Cyprus makes it the most appropriate time to address effectively the Cyprus question. The reasoning behind this argumentation is that these left-wing parties can initiate an anti-imperial dialogue in order to launch a postimperial constitutional process. But if humbug has penetrated the Cypriot Left, then why are the authors so optimistic about the outcome of the ongoing bicommunal negotiations?

The concept of the garrison-prison state, on the other hand, points to the efforts of imperial powers to establish states where ethnic communities exist in separation. As the authors suggest, the garrison-prison state aims at "ethnic ghettoisation." The authors argue that the British policy of divide and rule was in line with US interests and policies during the Cold War, as they were reflected in various partition plans for [End Page 119] Cyprus. Fouskas and Tackie further suggest that in the post–Cold War era the policy of divide and rule also fits into the US policy of building garrison-prison...


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pp. 118-121
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Archived 2019
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