The Irrepressible Rothbard
Essays of Murray N. Rothbard
Edited by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.
THE CYPRUS QUESTION
Now that George Bush has offered to help solve the long-standing
Cyprus Question, it is high time to review what this problem is
all about. In the first place, even though there are now two Cyprus
Republics, there is no such thing as a Cypriot nation or language
or culture. Whether there are one or two Cyprus Republics, they
are still only artificial creations.
In the first place, Cyprus is one of the numerous, mainly Greek-populated,
islands that dot the eastern Mediterranean. However, since the island
of Cyprus is only 44 miles from Turkey, the island is 80 percent
Greek (in the southern and central part of the island) but 18 percent
Turk (in the north). The island of Cyprus had long been occupied
by British imperialism. When Britain decided to divest itself of
the island in 1960, it created as a replacement an independent Republic
of Cyprus. Now, the point is that neither the Greeks nor the Turks
thought of or think of themselves as "Cypriot" in nationality or
culture, or in anything except mere geography. The Greek Cypriots
had only one thought on their minds: the age-old desire for enosis
(union) with the Greek motherland. Unfortunately, the Brits (backed
by the U.S.) had other objectives, such as an elusive balance of
power, in mind. The British installed as head of the Cypriot Republic
Archbishop Makarios, formerly a beloved spokesman for enosis,
but now widely regarded as a sellout of the cause. General George
Grivas took to the hills to engage in pro-enosis guerrilla
warfare. Finally, in 1974, the pro-Greek guerrillas (backed by the
Greek government) were able to throw out Makarios and to seize power.
But immediately, the Turkish government, fearing for its Turkish
brethren at the hands of a militant Greek government, invaded Cyprus,
and occupied the northern 40 percent of the island.
Since 1974, the forces on Cyprus have existed in uneasy stasis.
The Cypriot Republic backed off from enosis, while the Turks
established a Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in 1983. But the
Northern Cyprus Republic is only recognized by Turkey, and it subsists
by the backing of 29,000 Turkish troops remaining in northern Cyprus.
Undoubtedly, Bush's instincts would be to impose a unitary Cyprus
Republic, with guarantees for the Turkish minority, but that was
precisely the failed plan imposed by the outgoing British in 1960.
Greeks and Turks have hated each other with a purple passion for
centuries, and it is absurd to believe that the Turks will ever
again fall for being a minority within a unitary Greek state. Actually,
ratifying the status quo would not be a bad solution, while
also allowing the Greek Cypriots their cherished dream of enosis
with Greece. Why not have a separate Northern Cyprus Republic for
the Turks? The Turkish zone now is almost totally Turk, and likewise
for the Greek zone. The big problem, however, is that when the Turks
invaded Cyprus in 1974 they were, as usually happens in these matters,
interested less in ethnic justice than in helping out their own
ethnic comrades. As a result, they grabbed far too much territory,
ensuring that the excess land would be Greek-free by forcibly ejecting
200,000 Greeks from their northern zone. Justice would require the
Turks allowing the Greek expellees back into their homes, compensating
them for their losses and even reducing the extent of Northern Republic
territory and transferring the excess land into the Greek zone.
The chances of the Turks agreeing to any such plan they who
are deeply convinced that the only good Greek is a dead Greek
are of course minimal.
The chances, indeed, are not good that George Bush will somehow
blunder into a solution to the Cyprus problem. Already the New
York Times reports that "Mr. Bush seemed taken aback when he
was asked by a Greek reporter why he did not 'liberate' Cyprus from
the Turkish troops, as he 'liberated' Kuwait." But while the Cyprus
Question might not get closer to a solution, we can be assured that
before this episode is over a lot of U.S. taxpayer money is going
to get funneled into all countries involved.