April 26, 2007

Claire de Kultur public call

Claire, former minister of education in the Clerides government, issued the following public call to Marietta Yiannakou, current minister of education in Greece (the original was in Greek of course and what follows is my translation):
You are Greek, do not accept the foreign-inspired interventions of “committees” and “movements” that want to destroy our historic people, by subtly introducing crafty plans to de-Hellenize us…. Nous we have, historical conscience we also have, our country we do love. We do not want Hellas to fall into traps that, for many years, have been set up for her. We are the thorn they want to pull out and throw in the fire. If you are, Mrs Minister, brave –and I know you are- withdraw the book. Young Hellenes, in these few months, have been sufficiently blinded (left in the dark), no need to continue blinding them (leaving them in the dark). Offer them the opportunity to see the light, to see the truth, so that they can be proud of their ancestry and their History. So that they can continue to exist. So that they will not be the last generation of Hellenes on Earth.

One cannot but openly wonder. Is it not the truth that after Socrates, Plato and the 300 of Leonidas, the Greek nation went on a big sleep until 1821? Is it not true that relatively speaking, in the 20th century, the Greek nation is more like a third world, rather than a first world, country? And if the above simple truths are accepted, what is there to be proud of in the recent past relative to what other countries have achieved? Are Hellenes to be proud of their advanced technology, their top-rate universities, their superior intellectuals or their high-tech companies? What, really, is there to be proud of?

A few months ago in this blog there was a discussion on the positives and negatives of the Clerides administration. I will put it in the negatives of his Presidency that Claire was chosen to be minister of education in the close of the 20th century…

Hopefully, as mainland Greeks increasingly begin to lose their patience with our childish plays, as they escape their 1974 guilt, as they start mocking our big-village mentality and as they begin to realize that we perceive the Stravaraland Problem as an issue we cannot really live without, the message may finally get through that the world does not really owe anything to Stravaraland. Then, maybe, we can grow up and begin making positive contributions to the world around us.

April 20, 2007

Akamas, The Movie

Akamas is playing at The Pantheon in Lefkosia. Akamas is based on an essentially true story, a G/C marrying a T/C and deciding to stay in Pafos after 1974 (as opposed to moving to The Other Side).

The story illustrates the problems this relationship has to endure simply because on person is Greek and the other Turkish. It is played in the background of British colonization, the struggle for enosis by EOKA, the struggle for taksim by TMT, and finally the Turkish invasion in 1974.

The movie is a good attempt to point out the different versions of history that have made Cypriots on both sides what they are. But I will argue that the movie fails to touch on the problems between the two communities and offer any credible hope for the future. The movie shows, for instance, how villages were mixed and people lived together peacefully at some point but one does not fail to get the impression that mixed villages did not mean separate lives. Greeks were marrying Greeks, Turks were marrying Turks, both obstinately traditionalist and conservative in their outlooks and lives. These points withstanding, the movie is still recommended to be seen, and if you feel that you are growing weak at heart after watching it, there is still time to go to K-Cineplex and catch the 300 of Leonidas and recharge your nationalistic antibodies.

The movie has acclaimed notoriety because the main EOKA fighter/leader (Evagoras) calmly executes a G/C “traitor” (an old man) in a church on Good Friday. The man is executed by being shot in the mouth (we later learn his crime was to have argued in the coffeeshop that EOKA will eventually bring Turkey rather than Greece to Cyprus), and falls next to the dead Christ, the blood from his mouth coming to meet the dead body (and blood) of Jesus. This was around 3-5 minutes in the movie, but was really irrelevant to the rest of the plot and was actually contradicting the attributes of Evagoras (supportive of T/C, calm, clever and loving) previously shown in the movie. In the scene he is now shown to be a πελλο-κοπελλούδιν, a youngster drunk with the power of determining who will live and who will die. Completely reversing the attributes he had up to that point, and therefore making the plot self-contradictory and therefore less believable.

This was the scene that created trouble between the ministry of education and the producers since this scene was originally scripted to have happened in a coffeeshop (much more believable and credible). I really do not get why the producers paid so much attention to this scene. What are we supposed to get out of this? OK, supposedly there was one killing in a church during EOKA’a fight but is that really the issue here? Is that the only way to show how people’s lives were cheap back then? Does this have anything to do with the characters of the story or the political events unfolding? And is it worth alienating so many people by emphasizing an irrelevant possibility that nobody really can believe actually happened the way it was portrayed in the film? Is the producer’s insistence to show this scene worth the generated alienation that will prevent so many more G/C from ever watching this movie?

By the way, note that one of the six EMPs signing the letter to the Ministry of Education in support of the movie is the glorious anti-establishment, anti-Turk, anti-British-Bases, save-our-refugee-cultural-heritage-by-buying-refugee-antiques-cheaply, former DIKO MP, Marios Matsakis! But I digress, or as the allies of our president say, “Man may changeth”.

I reiterate that to think that so many people will not watch this movie just because of the arguments with regards to this scene is basically annoying. It is annoying because the movie has some positive aspects and is worth seen by Cypriots as they try to come to grips with what type of country they would like to live in in the future. But taking some things to the limit like that only makes people switch off, you lose them and you never have the chance to bring them in again. I really don’t get the persistence with regards to this scene, really what should be an irrelevant detail in the story being told and the background in which this story happens.

It would be interesting to have some views from T/C on the movie as I also think that the T/C characters were closer to G/C than T/C (they spoke most of the time in Greek, even between themselves). OK, maybe that was the case in 1960s Limnitis but was that really the case to such an extent? Maybe this was a practical difficulty to be dealt with but somehow it makes it look like something that was quickly done without much thought. How valid a criticism is that?

All in all, the movie was not convincing for the mainstream Cypriot on both sides of the divide. The essential message “Make Love, Not War” as the solution to all the problems on the island is shallow and does not address any of the grievances between the two communities that have created and are sustaining the conflict on the island. The movie is still worth seeing but leaves one with the feeling that the two communities have parted ways for good, and that what is left is to make this realization official…

April 17, 2007

Partnership for Peace...

...opposed by AKEL, various arguments similar to the anti-euro ones (my favourite one, used by Nic Katsourides and attributed to TeePee from the MP days of the latter: we should not want to participate in any organisation where Turkey is the general and Cyprus is the soldier...). If you want the exact Greek translation, the exact words used were Ο Ταγματάρχης και ο Στρατιώτης...

Maybe the arguments come from a higher form of intelligence, that is why they are non-sensical for the rest of us...

Also, for those of you that know Stravaraland cannot enter this Partnership because Turkey will veto (why would the general veto the soldier is another story that Nic failed to address), note that Nic addressed that today early in the morning because he said, we do not want to make Turkey use its veto over us. Or something to that effect but I was not able to make it completely out, maybe someone can help me.

Note that both Russia and Switzerland (and as far as I can tell almost all European countries, Malta is following suit) are part of the Partnership... Moreover, as far as I can tell the Partnership is based on bilateral agreements, between Nato and a particular country, on general principles (democracy is good, terrorism is bad, vague statements like that) and given that it is bilateral, it does not mean that a country can be forced to do anything against its will by being part of this club. But maybe Nic and AKEL know better and they save the good arguments for when the argument gets going...

April 15, 2007

Hypocrisy of the Long Distance Runner

Sunday's Politis magazine carried a fluff piece in the guise of an interview with Achilleas Grammatikopoulos, one of Stravaraland's most outstanding actors and a man of The Arts. The cover of the magazine carried the quote "Art is a Marathon".

Let me tell you about one of this man's contributions to Independent, no-budget filmmaking. When asked to participate in the voice-over of the short film (see the link in the sidebar, pointing to 'a short film about love') 'Apse to Fos', Grammatikopoulos most graciously agreed to help the filmmakers out.

When the short film earned an honourable mention at the 3rd Short Film and Documentary Festival in Limassol a couple of years ago this artsy marathon runner and patron of the arts promptly got on the phone to the screenwriter and demanded £100 for his efforts.

There was no money attached to the honorable mention. Keep running, dude!

Media Whores

While the foot soldiers of Our Lord The Saviour have been hurling insults, pots and pans at each other and generally misbehaving in their monasteries, Stravaraland has been gripped by a renewed national fetish, involving Marios Matsakis and his bail jumping antics.

Besides the points he gains towards re-election to the European Parliament, the doctor's latest stunts also appeal to a deep seated recognition-related neurosis that has gripped the nation for decades.

His revolution goes by a simple formula: You get arrested and then tell the world that you're being detained by illegal entities. You then appear in pseudo-court, do the unspeakable by signing documents (a big no no for sufferers of recognitionitis) being polite enough while posting bail and then start ranting and raving once your on Holy National Territory.

This time the Matsakis show has pulled out all stops with the addition of special appearances by his charming son. The child has become a national icon thanks to the brainless among the mass media. And the stomping grounds are the tried-and-tested bases.

My question is why did Doctor Hero post bail the last time he was arrested? And did Matsakis not promise TeePee to behave himself in return for his MEP job? Weren't we all happy as clams before the Dr. rekindled his crusade? Why did Mega (hereby co-nominated for our Media Whore of the Year award) force Matsakis Jr. to go to the bank to withdraw funds with which to post bail? Aren't there laws against the exploitation of underaged children? Is the Doc on an accelerated form of hunger strike - I mean doesn't seeking medical attention within 24 hours constitute a bit of wimpishness? Does anyone have Jacqueline's 'phone number?

April 13, 2007

On settlers

This article has appeared in Toplum Postasi and makes interesting reading, that is, provides some food for thought.

I hope the writer does not mind my copying of the original article here.

Why Cyprus cannot afford to exclude Turkish settlers

The new-“demonised other,” Turkish settlers in Northern Cyprus represent to some past crimes against Cyprus, but over 33 years can they still be called settlers? While Greek and Turkish Cypriots join hands in bi-communal activities that will facilitate a future reunification, the settlers and their offspring remain excluded. But how can a sustainable peace be grasped and how can Cyprus really be free of outside meddling if one excludes undoubtedly a major political and economic force on the island?


Long the butt of jokes, many ordinary Turkish settlers and their children are held responsible by native Turkish Cypriots for increasing levels of crime, moral corruption and pollution in Northern Cyprus. Treated with scorn by some Turkish Cypriots for whom they are a reminder of the chauvinism of Ankara, settlers are blamed for every ill in Northern Cyprus’ society, from forest fires, petty crime, to drug-related shootings. A Turkish Cypriot Famagustian suffering from a superiority complex once admitted to me over dinner that he avoided certain areas of his town that was “Karasakal” territory as he didn’t trust those mainlanders.

A highly derogatory and insulting term, “Karasakal” or even the newer term “Ficca” meaning sea weed are no different to terms like “Paki” or “Negro,” used by British racists, yet they are far too commonly utilized by Turkish Cypriots. In the absence of Greek Cypriots in the North, it appears that it is the settlers who have become the new demonized other.


In the Republic of Cyprus similar insults and stereotypes are made about the 30,000 Pontian Greeks living there. Occasionally united in their disdain for non-Cypriots, Greek and Turkish Cypriots see it as acceptable to hate their immigrants or settlers; some have forgotten that a similar hostility towards each other is the raison d'être, why they remain divided today. As a Londrali Kibrisli or Charlie, I cannot help but draw parallels with such views with those of British racists who hold asylum seeker, refugees and other immigrant communities responsible for all that may be wrong with modern-day Britain.


For a troubled island country for which the Americans and international community are spending millions on a "peace process" very little is being done to reverse deep sentiments of xenophobia prevalent in both main communities. The failed Annan Plan did not even mention it or have a strategy for dealing with it even though it is at the root of the current division of the island.


But do politicians really want to tackle xenophobia? For those who genuinely believe the day will come for them to deport a family of four back to Anatolia, unrelenting Turcophobia acts as fuel to maintain their pursuit of idealistic goals. After all, Greek Cypriot politicians keen to hold on to their votes need to keep dreams alive. Forced to deceive their own voters by promising to repatriate settlers from Turkey even after 33 years of living there, they recognize only too well how swiftly they would lose votes if they said otherwise. But with the rhetoric of a smaller number of politicians it is apparent to me that they are not interested in restoring the human rights of their own community, but more in a form of revenge or punishment of their invaders. In their eyes it is as if human rights violated, can be suddenly cured if one violates the rights of others?


Nobody can deny that the arrival of settlers was marked by the illegal looting and theft of Greek Cypriot owned properties. It transpired after a harrowing civil war, the memories of which are still fresh and the consequences devastating. I do not propose that true property owners remain dispossessed, in fact every effort should be made to restore their rights where possible, but feeding the masses improbable notions of restoring a past pre-1974 Cyprus and offering false hopes of repatriating 30 year settlers is deceptive and without purpose.

Whether some Cypriots can stomach it or not, Turkish settlers are at this moment an important ingredient in this character of the island and very few if any will be repatriated even if it is agreed on paper. A Republic of Cyprus diplomat once told me “they (the settlers) are Turkey's responsibility as citizens of that country, they are illegal.”

Without justifying Turkey’s action, I ask how can a human being be illegal? Perhaps the settlers may still be citizens of Turkey, but is it accurate to assume Ankara represents their voice? Surely, the settler community has over 33 years of living in Cyprus developed its own list of issues. Furthermore, if the issue of contention is the interference of Ankara then surely, the exclusion of this community is giving impetus to Ankara to defend ‘its citizens’ in Cyprus? Is this also not contrary to forming a Cyprus that is no longer a playing field for Ankara and Athens?


Sooner or later Greek and Turkish Cypriots have to realise that the island in the 21st century is now home to many other communities. Before even considering the settlers, tens of thousands of Thai, Sri Lankans, Filipinos, and Indians workers, and Iranians and Lebanese refugees have made the island their new home. In the North, stowaway Syrians, ex-student Pakistanis and Bulgarians Turks are all adding to this mixture. Yet still the official face of Cyprus depicted by the policy and attitudes of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus and the northern authorities still paint the picture of a Greco-Turkish Cypriot island.

Is it not time the government and Northern authorities recognized the true face of Cyprus as it is? When are official policies and attitudes going to reflect a more accurate multi-cultural Cyprus? When are non-Greek and Turkish Cypriots going to be invited to play a part in the future of the island? If Cypriots are genuine about reaching a solution, they cannot afford to leave out in the cold a large proportion of their population who do not happen to be Greek or Turkish Cypriots.

Marginalisation of settlers is not an option, as the group is an important political and economic force, and one of the fastest growing communities on the island. The reasons for their arrival may be painful and marred by injustice, but they are now after nearly half a century an ingredient in the mixture that is Cyprus. Their exclusion from North-South dialogue is both dangerous for long-term inter-community relations and an invitation or door wide open for Turkey to interfere in the internal affairs of Cyprus.

April 08, 2007

Leg of Cypriot Lamb

I feasted on leg of lamb with the family today. Thankfully the lamb was Cypriot lamb and not Bulgarian lamb masquerading as Greek lamb. As soon as Greece and Bulgaria join the EU, I'm sure it'll be OK for us to consume lamb from yonder as well. I feel quite safe in Stravaraland, especially reassured that idiots like PhotPhot will make sure I'll never run the danger of food poisoning.

I hope the man with an IQ lower than the average blade of grass does not mind that the family consumed vast amounts of Frenc and Italian wine. I think it was Turkish wine masquerading as Malbec, actually.

April 07, 2007

Happy Easter

The Cyprus News Agency will be shut on Easter Sunday as well as the day after that. We pray that the bells sitting atop our enslaved churches can one day ring freely, in harmony and whenever the priest feels like ringing them. We also pray that DSL speeds in Stravaraland increase dramatically and that providers such as Primetel come to their senses and get me connected inless time than it takes to read the entire Memories of Stravaraland.

We pray that comrade Christofias finds it in his brave christian heart to forgive Nicos Anastassiades for calling him kaimenos.

We pray that we are spared the doom and gloom Tommy 2.0 has predicted in time for Easter and we wish him a happy repaste of lamb, having endured a 40 day fast during which time, we are told, he has consumed an inordinate amount of cashew nuts and boiled grass.

Happy bonfires and may freedom ring true as our Lord and Saviour rises in a triumphant display of human and holy rights.