Chrysanthemums and Chrysostomos

Chrysanthemums and Chrysostomos

The Church of Cyprus has a definitely far limited clout on politics compared to the Makarios period when the Archbishop was the “national leader” and the president of the state at the same time.

While trying to salvage the collapsed Greek economy, to what extent did the Archbishop and his company of merry men’s gross mismanagement of the Church’s funds play a role? Or, was it because of the Information Age that the Greek Cypriots finally reached the Age of Enlightenment and decided to leave the Church and its nationalistic obsessions? Perhaps Archbishop Chrysostomos has been acting in his obsession of seeking revenge on the 1922 lynching of Metropolitan Chrysostomos Kalafatis of Smyrna (İzmir)?

Whatever, he has always been a die-hard opponent of any sort of deal with the Turkish Cypriots, who he has considered a “foreigner minority,” except for giving that small “Turkish occupation residue” group minority rights in a Greek state. Chrysostomos has been an ardent opponent of the federation giving Turkish Cypriots any sort of “veto power.”

Have you heard? Last week, Archbishop Chrysostomos has once again liberated himself from the bonds of reason, fired a set of salvoes on both Greek Cypriot politicians, the United Nations Secretary-General’s special Cyprus envoy and of course, the Turkish Cypriots. As expected, his first target was the “federation goal” of the Cyprus peacemaking talks that have been ongoing since 1977 at least. At a high level agreement held in 1977, Makarios III—who was also the first president of Cyprus—and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktaş, set creation of a bi-zonal and bi-communal federation as the target of the process.

He must have forgotten that the 1963 Akritas Plan that aimed to cleanse Turkish Cypriots from the island was a product of Makarios III’s claim that the veto power the Turkish Cypriot vice president was ordained in the 1960 system was the reason the Cyprus Republic was suffering from acute problems in providing effective governance. If the Turkish Cypriots sacrificed their objection to the 13 constitutional amendments and give up veto power and other powers that made the republic an effective federation, they could achieve effective governance. Was it not that behind the “Bloody Christmas” of Dec. 21, 1963 and consequent attacks on Turkish Cypriots that continued off and on until the 1974 Turkish intervention?

Archbishop Chrysostomos objected to that as well. According to him, there were no Greek Cypriot attacks on Turkish Cypriots before 1974 but it was the Turkish Cypriots who started a rebellion in 1963.

“In 1963, we had a Turkish uprising in Cyprus. I am sorry to say some people and even some who have high positions in the government, say we have slain the Turks without shame and that what happened was intercommunal riots,” according to Chrysostomos.

I would call it amnesia but if and when denial of facts is not a product of a psychological and neurological condition, there must be a far more important condition behind such a situation. He accused Makarios III and all other Greek Cypriot leaders who spoke of establishing a federation with the Turkish Cypriots of engaging in a process that could not produce a viable state. He claimed even if Turkey accepted to give up its intervention rights and said yes to everything that has been demanded by Greek Cypriots and even if all the “occupation troops” left the island, if Turkish Cypriots were given veto power that settlement could not produce a viable state.

He said talks with Turkish Cypriots must be terminated immediately and reconstituted on a firmer basis with the intention of creating a “functional, viable and proper state, without any vetoes.”

“If the settlement solution will include vetoes, then it will not function properly,” Chrysostomos said.

“If it truly wants to work toward the establishment of a proper state [in Cyprus] in the end, otherwise, there will be a construction that will collapse and we will be in chaos,” he urged the Turkish side.

Of course, Aspen Bart Eide, the special U.N. envoy for the Cyprus talks, could not be spared from the wrath of Archbishop Chrysostomos. While Turkish Cypriots have been attacking the U.N. envoy for not accurately briefing the public about the reasons why the Crans-Montana talks have failed—for not blaming the Greek Cypriots, that is—Chrysostomos accused the U.N. envoy of looking at events from the Turkish perspective. He said the Nikos Anastasiades government ought to ask for his replacement.

In Cyprus, perhaps because of its capability to defy water shortages and roasting Mediterranean weather conditions, graveyards are full of chrysanthemums of all colors. Besides the olive, fig, almond and carob trees, Cypriots love cypress trees and the chrysanthemums decorating the eternal resting places of their most beloved ones. Even if chrysanthemums often remind people of death, the colorful flowers are adorned by many.

In a way, Turkish Cypriots have become like the chrysanthemums of Cyprus. They have defied all attacks, genocidal practices, ignorance and decades of inhumane embargoes and still wage a struggle for a dignified life on their homeland. Chrysostomos and his sort of people remain aloof from the idea of establishing a common future based on equality on the common homeland of the Turkish and Greek people of the island.