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The coup has come to be like foreplay in sex: in theory everyone likes it but most people skip it to get to the coveted invasion/penetration.

Every 15 July some people resort to impressive, by-far-better-than-Maya-Plisetskaya pirouettes around the word “coup” in order to avoid uttering it. Meanwhile, others, when they do [mention it], reluctantly of course, will utter something unintelligible like “cp” to then proceed in a clear, stentorian voice to the main course, which is of course the user-friendly Turkish invasion that unites everyone. They think, why bother with a “reckless act”, “civil strife”, an “internal confrontation”, a “foreign intervention getting us to kill each other” (as the coup has been dubbed in the last decade, mainly by Pindarou) when we can go straight to what everyone without exception loves to hate? [Translator’s note: ‘Pindarou’ references the street name where Democratic Rally (DISY) headquarters is situated] The coup has come to be like foreplay in sex: in theory everyone likes it but most people skip it to get to the coveted invasion/penetration.

One of the biggest shocks when I first came to Cyprus was when I realised that many of the coup’s protagonists – whether EOKA-B participants, Junta supporters, mere sympathisers or even those who defended them in trials – occupied, either for themselves or their (unrepentant) descendants, high office in parties, Parliament and even in government, a tragic tradition that continues to this day. Now that I know how the local collective memory works (easy-peasy, it’s like the hero in [Christopher] Nolan’s Memento), I understand it, I don’t accept it, but at least I can see the “logic” behind the absurdity of it all. But at the time, it was a more powerful culture shock than the first time I saw Sigma’s “Una ratsa”. [Translator’s note: a television series aired on Sigma station] They tried to relate it to my own, then still fresh, Greek standards. Look, many Junta supporters [in Greece] managed in the political transition period to fool the system and integrate themselves into mainly right-wing parties, but they made sure, if not to cover up their dirty past, at least not to flaunt it. I cannot even imagine the children of [Georgios] Papadopoulos, [Stylianos] Pattacos or [Dimitrios] Ioannidis [Translator’s note: leading figures in the junta that ruled Greece between 1967-1974] being elected as members of parliament for example under the New Democracy party and speaking from the podium of the same parliament that their fathers destroyed. The thought alone doesn’t just burn your brain, it’s the Srebrenica of your brain cells. I remember people I pointed this out to at the time, they just shrugged their shoulders while flashing that condescending smile that basically means “aw, he’s new here, he’ll learn too”. Yes, what to a foreign third party seems unthinkable is in Cyprus just another Tuesday.

Also in Greece, the investigator who bravely investigated the murder of Grigoris Lambrakis [Translator’s note: Greek politician and anti-war activist who was assassinated in 1963] (despite the pressures and threats from the government and deep state) was elected President of the Republic and NOT the lawyer defending his murderers, but I don’t think you want to have this discussion, right?

I was reminded of all this upon seeing this year also the wreath of the (right-wing) President of the Republic on the graves of the commandos who attacked the Presidential Palace on a mission to assassinate Makarios. Among those [wreaths] of the Pancyprian Association of Reserve Special Forces (makes sense) and the Archdiocese (makes more sense) and next to those of DISY (makes the most sense). When the President was challenged by an indignant lady about the fact that he had honoured the victims and perpetrators of the coup on the same day (I’m not sure but it must be a global novelty), he stuttered out some of the silliest excuses ever to come out of the mouth of someone over 10 years old (“it happened before” was the first, “I didn’t lay the wreath but the Transport Minister did” was the other – do people really still believe him?) before he hurriedly and awkwardly walked away. Later that day, the entire DISY apparatus engaged in a barrage of repetition of the phrases “civil war”, “national division”, “disunity”, “recklessness” and “united we can succeed”, because after the washing comes the rinsing. The only thing they didn’t say was “stop hating, start fucking”, presumably to not step on the toes of Morphou. [Translator’s note: reference to the Bishop of Morphou’s recently recorded sermon on the blessings of marital sex]

Twenty years after the initial shocks, nothing surprises me anymore. Neither the glossing over of part of history, nor the downgrading of the coup to “something the leftists are shouting about because we gave it to them about Mari four days ago” [Translator’s note: reference to large munitions blast in Mari village on July 2011] until we reach a final disdain for the “divisive” 15 July and prevalence of the more widespread and “unifying” condemnation of the invasion, because – make no mistake – that’s where it’s headed.

I’ll accept that Makarios had turned into an authoritarian, oppressive regime. But he was the legitimate government. The people retained the right to send him away through their vote at the next election. The junta and its minions in Cyprus didn’t give a shit about the freedoms and human rights that Makarios was – maybe – violating, it was a junta for fuck’s sake, they just wanted to get him out of the way to install their own fascist regime like they had done seven years ago in Greece. I’ll accept that the dead commandos were “weak-willed, naïve and unthinking 18-year-olds without agency on commissioned duty and in fear of court martial”. Which I don’t believe, the testimonies of the bloodthirsty trigger-happy EOKA B-ers are too numerous to ignore. But even if it were so, that would warrant a memorial and two or three words from relatives and like-minded people. From that to the laying of a wreath, which is an honour bestowed on heroes, there is not just a gap between the two, but the fucking Grand Canyon.

I understand the need to move forward in a troubled place like Cyprus, even if some ideals have to be sacrificed along the way. I understand that in the face of fear of a general conflict and complete collapse of the remaining Cypriot state after the invasion, amnesty was granted to those responsible for the national disaster and political shelter was provided under the newly formed DISY. But these needs existed 45 years ago; what I fail to understand is exactly what need requires the same thing to happen today. Why, at a time when symbols of hatred are being torn down, erased or demolished on a global level (fuck you General Lee, good riddance Leopold you paedophile), in this corner of the Mediterranean, coup plotters, terrorists, slaughterers of civilians, traitors and annihilators are still being honoured and glorified. They say that we must judge everything within its historical context, but not everything is grey. Some things are black or white whether we like it or not, and if straddling-the-fence prevailed as an ideology we would either still be living in caves or under the boot of some authoritarian dystopia.



A journalist for over 20 years, Marinos Nomikos has been a constant thorn in the side of the Establishment, thanks to his sharp humour and insightful social commentary. He has collaborated, among others, with the newspapers Politis, Kathimerini and Phileleftheros, the magazines TV Mania and Down Town, and the radio stations Active, Sfera and Kanali 6. He currently writes for the websites ToThemaOnline and LimassolToday and presents the podcast ‘TV Stories’ by Alpha.

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