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New Cyprus Association member, Andreas Panayiotou, emphasised on a TV programme that Greek Cypriots were not Hellenic. He said that he felt like a foreigner when he went to Greece. He said he felt uncomfortable with the Greek flag and the Greek national anthem and, saying that we should change these, wished for Cypriot identity to be brought to the fore.
All hell broke loose. The right-wing and chauvinist Greek Cypriot press, the Greek Cypriot people and the Greek Cypriot Government clamoured for Andreas Panayiotou’s blood, along with that of Takis Hadzigeorgiou, who made the programme. These men were lucky not to have been lynched. When talk turns to Cypriotness, the long and short of it is that Turkish Cypriot chauvinists and Greek Cypriot chauvinists neither recognize freedom of speech, nor pay heed to democracy, nor attach value to human rights and opinions. The same Greek Cypriots who oppose the partition of Cyprus cannot break the link with the Greek flag, Greek marches and Greek national days. If a person is Cypriot, everything about them must speak of their Cypriot identity. If those fighting for Cyprus wave Hellenic flags in their hands, sing the Greek national anthem in their hearts and feel excitement for Hellenism on national days, does this not question the sincerity of their fight on behalf of the Cypriot State? Precisely the same applies to Turkish chauvinistic Cypriots. They seem to be equally incapable of embracing Cypriotness. They cannot abandon the Turkish flag, Turkish marches and Turkish national days. They only see Hellenes and people from Turkey on the island of Cyprus; there is no such people, no such nation as the Cypriots. So, let’s have Enosis or Partition! They won’t have that, either. In short, they neither accept Cypriotness, nor will they consent to Cyprus being Greek or Turkish!
Where will chauvinism take Cyprus? Last year, right-wing and chauvinistic Greek Cypriots raised a storm in a teacup all because a Turkish film was shown on Greek Cypriot TV. The TV management has not dared to show a Turkish film again. Let there be no doubt that if Bayrak TV were to show a Greek film one day, precisely the same disgust would be expressed by Turkish chauvinistic Cypriots. Since Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot culture is rooted in chauvinism, British, French, German, Italian, Russian, Czechoslovakian, Hungarian or Spanish films attract no adverse reaction, but Greek or Turkish films meet with protest from the opposite side. This protest is for the glory of their Greekness, their Turkishness. What we must really seek to glorify is our Cypriot identity.
It is irrelevant whether Greek Cypriots are Hellenic or not. It is irrelevant if Turkish Cypriots’ roots are Turkish or not. Are we not all Cypriot people? Is there a rule of humanity which prevents us from being Cypriot because we speak Greek or Turkish? Has this island, our home and country, no history? Has it no geography? From within a history that stretches back to 4000 or 5000 BC, which of us came to this island as a Hellene or a Turk? People in the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, the Neolithic Age had nowhere to escape to when the Egyptians invaded. With the coming of the Assyrians, Persians, Hittites and Phoenicians, the Cypriots added to their mosaic on the island. Within this process, was the Cypriot, in terms either of lineage, blood, race or nation, able to remain the same as the Stone-Age and Bronze-Age Cypriot? During the Ottoman and British occupations, were there no mixed births among the Cypriot people? Were all the British, Romans, Egyptians, Persians and Hittites pure born? Were the Greeks able to maintain absolute purity of lineage? Were there no marriages with the British, Turks or Greek Cypriots? Do the dark recesses of history hide no mixing with Egyptians, Hittites, Assyrians, Persians or Italians? Do the people with blond hair, blue eyes, green eyes, black eyes, black hair, dark skin, olive complexions, fair complexions, hooked noses, flat noses, long faces, flat faces, tall stature and bow legs that we see among both Greek and Turkish Cypriots tell us nothing?
For centuries the Mediterranean climate, Mediterranean civilization and people with roots in the Mediterranean and Central Asia have fermented and kneaded us with their history, culture, lineage and blood into a dough. In the face of this historical truth which has brought the Cypriot into being, is there any way we can deny Cypriot identity? They asked a whore why she bore no children. She said, ‘How can I? The first man makes it, the next man breaks it!’ But Cyprus, the prostitute of the Mediterranean, was not like that at all. She gave birth at all times throughout history. She gave birth to Cypriots. Even if centuries pass, she will give birth in the centuries that are to come. Nobody knows what lies in the womb of history. If nothing else, let us be aware of our Cypriotness, let us rejoice in it and be proud of it.