The Politics of Memory and Forgetting
The conflict in Cyprus is remembered in different ways by different groups of people. This selective memory - - a phenomenon common to many, if not all, countries traumatized by war and repression - - is not always easy to acknowledge or understand, precisely because the selectivity serves a political purpose: usually, to justify the claims of one group over a competing group. Cyprus presents an especially poignant case of this for a variety of reasons, not least because it is a longstanding conflict, with deep roots in the "motherlands" and their own divisive history.
In this chapter from his 1995 doctoral dissertation at Cambridge University, Yiannis Papadakis, a Greek Cypriot anthropologist who teaches at the University of Cyprus, delves into the topic of selective, politically charged memory. It is not only an insightful analysis of Cyprus, but stands as one of the most innovative pieces of work on this topic anywhere.
Memory and forgetting are two sides of the same coin. Indeed, each provides the presupposition for the existence of the other. Remembering everything is as impossible as having no memories at all. To remember everything would mean that one would be in a state of total chaos and similarly complete forgetting would create an equally undesirable blank. Instead, it is the possibility of forgetting that makes it possible to remember certain things and vice versa.
While the issues of memory and 'structural amnesia' have been well developed by anthropologists, these have primarily dealt with the construction and manipulation of genealogies in segmentary tribal societies [footnote 1] without written records and official (state-produced) histories. This makes them of little use in examining the processes that give rise to memory and forgetting in the context of the modern state with official written histories, such as Cyprus. Nevertheless, they do suggest that in the final outcome tribal histories (in the form of genealogies) may reveal more about present structural relationships, i.e. a group's relationships with other groups, than actual facts of history (cf. Valensi 1985:38). In this sense, they may resemble state produced histories, in that shifts in relations with certain groups may tempt states to recast their past in order to accommodate these. In the case of Cyprus, I argue that Greek Cypriot shifts in official historiography cannot be understood merely as an attempt to account for present realities, but rather as a way to overcome these and create the preconditions for what Greek Cypriots see as a desirable future. This is because Greek Cypriots would like to change the present status quo that the division of the island entails. The Turkish Cypriots by contrast, appear wanting to preserve this division (or a division in some form) and their official history also reflects and legitimates this.
Memory and forgetting can be based on experience but they can also be used strategically to give rise to different interpretations or stories of the past. Bruner (1986b) uses a working definition of experience as 'how events are received by consciousness' (p.4). He distinguishes it from expression which is 'how individual experience is formed and articulated' (p.5), that is to say the story which is recounted of the experience. Past experience may then provide a basis on which certain stories of history are articulated but accounts of the past may also be based upon, or draw from, official histories. As experience is always richer than the stories, it may be used within different discourses or contexts by the same agent to provide even competing stories. Memory and forgetting are what is used to form these narratives but as this is not a one-way process, a dominant history can also affect what people remember and forget.
Cyprus presents an interesting case for the examination of the ways through which social memory and forgetting are created and contested on a local, national and international level. The way these are used to structure different historical narratives can become clearer if one compares the two sides' views of the past, since both refer to the same period and area and yet come up with different histories. By looking at what each side includes in its history, it becomes possible to also ascertain how each account implies certain forgettings. The examination of the various levels at which debates of the past take place can reveal how different views of the past are articulated and indicate how these may often be in competition with one another.
This raises certain questions regarding the 'objectivity' of history and whether there can be more than one correct history. Much recent work, however, uses the term historiography, which assumes a plurality of views of the past, rather than that of history . Moreover, work on modes of historiographical writing, such as that of White (1973) sheds doubts on the tenacity of absolute distinctions between the notion of history as dealing exclusively with facts and the story that belongs to the realm of literature and imagination. White's argument is that imagination is an inseparable part of history-writing as this is what is required in order to place a series of real events into a meaningful narrative sequence. This is not to say that the story is necessarily in the service of chronology. Instead, the production of any narrative inevitably requires the suppression of certain events or themes and the simultaneous highlighting of others. The idea that different societies articulate different histories (which may explicitly or implicitly involve histories of other groups) has also been noted by anthropologists (cf. Hastrup 1992). As Herzfeld (1991:226-259) shows in the context of historical preservation, history may be severely contested within a single society.
It is also interesting to note that in Greek the word for story, fairy tale and history is the same, namely istoria, its meaning depending on the context and mode of use. The use of the definite or indefinite article usually distinguishes between these various meanings. Use of the definite article (such as 'i istoria' or 'tin istoria') refers to history as the word is used in English, while using the indefinite or plural (mia istoria, istories) may either mean a story (e.g. of a personal nature) or a fairy tale (also cf. Herzfeld 1987:43). Beyond these, there are also significant historical and political reasons that make the past of Cyprus an object of both ambivalence and contest.
Sources of ambivalence in Greek Cypriot historiography
The modern history of Cyprus has been notably marked by conflict on the intercommunal, intracommunal and international levels. In 1955, the anticolonial struggle against the British commenced, with the aim of enosis, i.e. uniting Cyprus with Greece. Turkish Cypriots (about 18% of the total population) who had no desire of uniting with Greece eventually took the side of the British against the Greek Cypriots. Left wing Greek Cypriots were also excluded as their 'patriotism' was deemed to be suspect and AKEL, the Communist Party, initially argued against both the form and the timing of an armed struggle. Though this was largely a struggle against the British, it was also indirectly aimed against both the Turkish Cypriots who were employed by the British against Greek Cypriot insurgencies (Pollis 1979) and the left wing Greek Cypriots. The scale of interethnic and intraethnic strife was significant. According to Purcell (1969:270-1, 293) of the 287 Greeks Cypriots killed during 1955-60, 60 died at the hands of Turkish Cypriots, 106 were killed by the security forces and at least 112 by EOKA (with a possible maximum of 200), while 84 Turkish Cypriots were killed by Greek Cypriots and 7 by the British.
The period between 1960 and 1974 saw more such events, as Patrick (1976) has documented. While independence was granted to the island in 1960, Greek Cypriots were not very pleased as it was enosis that they had fought for. At the same time, the Turkish Cypriots had been voicing their own demands for taksim (division of the island). The mutual mistrust of the two communities as each was trying to pursue its own objectives led to an atmosphere where Greek Cypriot proposals to change the constitution along with the death of a Turkish Cypriot woman in Nicosia (December 1963) sparked off intercommunal violence, that sporadically continued for four years. Turkish Cypriots withdrew from the government and formed enclaves within the island where they tried to establish their own administration. The Greek Cypriots saw this, along with Turkish threats of invasion and the attack of Greek Cypriot targets by the Turkish airforce in 1964, as an attempt to undermine the status of the republic and the fightings as a legitimate way to prevent the Turkish Cypriots from establishing taksim. Indeed, it seems that in those days both communities desired to unite with their respective 'motherlands'. While Attalides identifies some sources of 'Cypriot consciousness' (1979:57-80), he also points out the lack of an open articulation of a pro-independence policy (ibid.:105). Thus, it may be more correct to say that, at the time, Cypriots felt more as Greeks and Turks, i.e. members of two different nations. (This distinction is important for a later part of this argument.)
According to Patrick's (1976:46,119) estimates, during the period of serious interethnic conflict, from 1963 to 1967, 219 Greek Cypriots were killed by Turkish Cypriots and 420 Turkish Cypriots by Greek Cypriots. During the same period around 25,000 Turkish Cypriots (20% of the total Turkish Cypriot population) became refugees along with a few hundred Greek Cypriots (Patrick ibid.:343-5).
At the same time most evidence points out that until 1967, when a military junta rose to power in Greece, the Greek Cypriots were themselves engaged in an effort to change the status of the republic in order to bring about enosis (cf. Sant Cassia 1983a:187). This seems to have been officially abandoned around 1968, after the take over by the junta in Greece. From then on and especially after 1970, one sees the escalation of intracommunal violence among the Greek Cypriots with the emergence of the EOKA B group, that was led by EOKA's ex-military leader Grivas, who now came illegally to the island. EOKA's political leader Makarios had throughout the post- independence period been the president of Cyprus. After the ascent of the junta in Greece and while being engaged in negotiations with the Turkish Cypriots, Makarios was less emphatic regarding the desire for enosis. He later reverted to enosis, but as a desirable albeit impractical aim. Moreover, a significant part of his support came from AKEL, the communist party which in the light of the extreme right wing government of Greece was not too keen on enosis either. These were treated as treason of the highest order by Grivas and his EOKA B supporters who were in firm support of enosis now. In the post 1970 period Greek Cypriots were split into Makariakoi (supporters of Makarios) and Grivikoi (of Grivas). Armed groups of their supporters, called omadhes (Sant Cassia 1983b:122) would often clash, raid or sabotage each other.
With the support of the army - itself controlled by the Athens-appointed Greek officers - EOKA B launched a coup, in July 1974, in order to kill or displace Makarios and allegedly bring about enosis. Makarios managed to escape unharmed and Sampson was installed as the new president. Turkey reacted to these events by launching a military offensive that led to the division of the island.
The relatively short time span in which these conflicts have taken place and the different levels (intercommunal, intracommunal and international) on which they occurred has led to a certain ambivalence on how the history of this period was to be officially 'written'. This stems from the fact that the different levels of conflict, e.g. among Greek Cypriots, Greek Cypriots and Greece, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, Greek Cypriots and Turkey, and shifts in alliances, has made it very difficult to write the history of this period as a coherent whole. Moreover, the desire to preserve unity among Greek Cypriots after the Turkish offensive, has made them rather reluctant to delve on the events of the coup and the preceding period. A general amnesty was awarded to the coupists by Makarios. The link between a amnesty and amnesia is succinctly pointed out by Burke as 'the official erasure of memories of conflict in the interest of social cohesion' (1989:108) . This ambivalence has allowed considerable space for the articulation of different views of history. It is often expressed by the use of the vague phrase 'mes' tin katastasin (during the events)' that Greek Cypriots utilise in oral discourse to refer to any of the events or periods previously discussed. One way of dealing with ambivalences, as I will try to show, is silence. Silence, however, amounts diachronically to social forgetting, as periods or events excluded from social memory do not reach the younger generations.
The relatively short time span in which these conflicts took place allows many Cypriots to be able to now recall them as what I would like to call 'lived history'. This creates even more possibilities for the articulation of different histories. Those who were not old enough to remember or were not yet born only know of these through what they have heard from others or learned through the media and education. Such knowledge of the past I will call 'learned history' and is to a larger extent determined by official history.
Turkish Cypriots by contrast, do not face similar problems in articulating their accounts of the past. They were not in any sense 'betrayed' by the 'motherland'; instead Turkey is mostly regarded as having liberated them. Internal strife among Turkish Cypriots did not reach the levels that it did for Greek Cypriots and did not have the serious consequences that it did for latter. Yet, history is also disputed on their side, for reasons that, as I later indicate, may have more to do with current economic problems and inequalities in the distribution of power and wealth.
Connerton (1989) indicates the primacy of commemorative ceremonies in shaping social memory. This term is rather different from that of 'collective memory' used by Halbwachs (1980), the pioneer of the study of memory in a social context. Halbwachs's terminology and theory lean heavily on Durkheimian sociology which tends to treat society as a unified whole giving little emphasis to conflict; social memory then emerges as a 'collective representation' of the past. Yet, as my research has indicated a plurality of memories, the term 'social' will be preferred (also cf. Fentress and Wickham 1992:ix; Tonkin 1992:104-5).
Connerton's approach, however, and other studies of social memory, such as Fentress and Wickham (1992) and Rappaport (1990), have not dealt adequately with its dialectical counterpart . Any approach dealing with memory must also answer the question of what is forgotten and why. Indeed, memory can only work effectively if it focuses on relatively few and concrete events. This means that a certain selection takes place and implies an eventual forgetting of events not stressed by commemorative rituals.
Memory and forgetting refer to the past and construct (or are informed by) a certain history. But the views or aims of different groups with regards to the future are of primary importance in articulating various accounts of the past. In other words, when talking of the past one implicitly talks of the future as well. As Bruner points out, in looking at ethnographic narratives and how anthropologists articulate their narratives of the present, by inserting them in a story that also includes the past and the future, 'how we depict one segment of the sequence..is related to the conception of the whole which I choose to think as a story' (1986a:141).
Greek Cypriot Official History
This section examines how Greek Cypriots articulate the history of Cyprus on the official level, by looking at commemorative rituals (see fig.7) and the discourse that accompanies these. As far as the modern period is concerned what is commemorated is the 1955-60 period and the events of 1974. Regarding the 1955-60 period two celebrations take place: the start of the EOKA struggle (on April 1st) and the Independence Day (on October 1st).
Years Commemorated in Annual Rituals
The official discourse in which these are set deserves serious attention in order to understand the meaning of such reconstructions of the past. As far as the EOKA movement is concerned two points need to be made. In the first place, the movement is now presented as a struggle of all Cypriots, thus overshadowing the exclusion of the left and the disagreement of the Turkish Cypriots. Secondly, it is mostly referred to as apeleftherotikos aghonas (freedom struggle) or aghonas yia anexartisia (independence struggle) and not as aghonas yia enosi (struggle for union) as it really was.
This is important and calls for further analysis. While enosis may have initially been close to the hearts of most Greek Cypriots, after 1968 it gradually moved to the domain of an ideal as many Greek Cypriots realized that it may have not have been a practical or even a desirable aim. Whatsmore, enosis now was the ideological platform which the putschists endorsed and on which their rhetoric and actions were based. The means they used to pursue this ideal were those of terrorism and the subsequent coup. Thus, it came to be associated by most Greek Cypriots with the pre-1974 intracommunal violence and the actions of the putschists that eventually brought disaster. There is little doubt that after 1974 Greek Cypriots abandoned the pursuit of enosis .
Furthermore, that this was the official goal of Greek Cypriots at least up to 1967 (when the Greek Cypriot House of Representatives passed a unanimous resolution in favour of enosis) is now a source of embarrassment to the Greek Cypriots and at least one party, AKEL, has explicitly criticised and denounced its stance on this issue. A major reason why the pursuit of enosis after 1960 is now viewed as an embarrassment is that Turkish Cypriots use this in order to show that the Greek Cypriots themselves were trying to change the status of the republic, something prohibited by the constitution of Cyprus. Finally, enosis has been one of the major fears of the Turkish Cypriots and it is only natural that part of the policy of rapprochement, that the Greek Cypriot government has adopted, is to reassure Turkish Cypriots that Greek Cypriots do not desire enosis any more. Two resolutions unanimously approved by the Greek Cypriot House of Representatives provide an indirect, yet firm, repudiation of enosis by 'rejecting the annexation in any way of the whole or part of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus to any other state' (Republic of Cyprus 1979, 1981) .
The second celebration regarding the 1955-60 period is the Day of Independence marking the independence of Cyprus. While Greek Cypriots, now regard this as a victory, as 'the liberation of Cyprus from the British yoke', it is unlikely that when it took place it was received in this way. Indeed, it seems that it was viewed more as a defeat, the defeat of enosis. According to Markides (1977:25), '..there were no festivities, no ringing of church bells, no parades, no dancing in the streets to celebrate Cypriot independence. The mood of the Greek Cypriots was sober, almost depressed'.
Greek Cypriot school textbooks often include a picture of a crowd watching the flag of Cyprus being raised for the first time. While this is intended to appear as a 'glorious moment in history', a close look at the crowd reveals no signs of celebration; people are rather watching apprehensively. The flag of Cyprus was a symbol new (and possibly alien) to all Cypriots as previously it was the Greek and Turkish flags that had been used as banners for mass mobilisation. It was created to provide a necessary emblem for the emergent state. Indeed, the constitution of Cyprus explicitly stated that the flag was to be of 'neutral design'. Thus, it is more likely that it was viewed as a symbol of defeat at the time, while it later came to be accepted as political realities also changed.
The last official commemorative ceremony is one of lament as it refers to the 1974 events. These are called 'oi mavres epeteioi tou praxikopimatos ke tis eisvolis (the black anniversaries of the coup and the invasion)', the 15th and 20th of July respectively. They are officially commemorated together by a syllalitirio (mass gathering) addressed by the President of the Republic that usually takes place on the 20th of July. What is emphasized in the various speeches is the treason of the junta and their collaborators in Cyprus, the loss of life and property resulting from the Turkish invasion, the desire to return to the areas where Greek Cypriots used to live but are now under occupation and the wish to see the island reunited in order to live 'once more peacefully with the Turkish Cypriots'.
The desire to return to their previous homes as expressed by the symbol dhen xehno (I don't forget) is one of the ideas that has become a major focus for social memory. It expresses the desire of the refugees to return to their homes and of Greek Cypriots in general not to forget that a major part of their country is under military occupation by Turkey. Dhen xehno encapsulates the most important elements of the Greek Cypriots' social memory nowadays .
By looking at what is officially commemorated and in what terms, it now becomes possible to highlight what is socially (or rather officially) remembered as well as what is forgotten. I previously showed that the three main events that are picked out of the recent history of Cyprus are the start of the EOKA struggle, independence and the 1974 coup and invasion. What is the significance of these? If we first look at the actors involved, the Turkish Cypriots do not appear except as possible complicitors of the British. Then the importance of the enosis slogan is underemphasized during the EOKA struggle and the later period. As Connerton (1985) points out, one of the characteristics of commemorative rituals that distinguishes it from other forms of ritual is that 'they do not simply imply continuity with the past but explicitly claim such continuity' (p.45). Thus, the celebration of Independence as a glorious event now gives the impression that it was always regarded as a victory.
From a commemoration of 1960 we move to one of 1974. The period in-between is officially not part of the social memory and this policy of silence can only amount to an eventual forgetting. The silence over the 1960-74 period along with the way the EOKA struggle is presented, essentially mean that no room is given to memories of official proclamations for enosis by the Greek Cypriots (up to 1967 and after 1970) and to the intercommunal (and intracommunal) violence of that period. The absence of intercommunal conflict makes the current policy of rapprochement, based on the idea that 'we used to live well with the Turkish Cypriots', appear both as plausible and truthful. This phrase not only indicates how Greek Cypriots would like to view the past but also points to their future aspirations.
Turkish Cypriot Official History
How do the Turkish Cypriots view or construct their own history? What kinds of rememberings and forgettings does their history entail?
The official commemorations of Turkish Cypriots (see fig.7) regarding the modern history of the island start with the foundation of their own struggle organisation (TMT) in 1958 (1st August). Turkish Cypriots feel that it was necessary to do this in order to protect themselves from EOKA (or general Greek Cypriot) aggression. The same date has been designated as the Turkish Cypriot Armed Forces day and also commemorates the conquest of Cyprus by the Ottomans. Then, the events of 1963 and 1967 are commemorated as ritual lament for those who died defending themselves from the Greek Cypriots during the intercommunal fighting. The military intervention of Turkey in 1974, the 'Peace Operation', is regarded as having saved them from the possible threat of extinction in the hands of the putschists. Finally, there is the celebration of the declaration of the area under their control as an independent state (15th November 1983). The most important commemorations are those that take place in July and December and last for a whole week. The July one is the Barish ve Ozgurluk Bayrami (Peace and Freedom Celebration) and it usually ends with a 20th of July parade, celebrating the arrival of the Turkish army in Cyprus. In December there is the Shehitler Haftasi (Martyrs' Week) that focuses around the outbreak of interethnic violence on the 23rd of December 1963, the Bloody Christmas (Kanli Noel) as it is called. During this week all the dead Turkish Cypriots of the 1963 to 1974 period are mourned.
The rhetoric accompanying these is that of an ethnic group/nation that has been struggling for self-determination against a larger enemy engaged in an effort to oppress or even exterminate it. All public rituals refer explicitly to some kind of conflict with the Greek Cypriots. The history of the Turkish Cypriots emerges as one of unequivocal conflict with the Greek Cypriots until the Turkish army brought peace in 1974 and the official rhetoric that accompanies such commemorations stresses that the past proves the impossibility of the two nations ever living together in the future.
Unutmayajagiz (we won't forget) is the symbol that is the equivalent of the Greek Cypriot's dhen xehno, though their meanings are rather different. Unutmayajagiz refers to the martyrs and heroes who gave up their lives in the struggles against the Greek Cypriots and bestows a duty to the present generations to honour their sacrifices by continuing their struggle and not giving up what they have died for.
The declaration of the area under their control as an independent state requires two kinds of social forgetting: on the one hand, the Turkish Cypriots are required to forget their lives and homes in the south where many of them used to live until 74, and the fact that Greek Cypriots used to live in the area where they now do so. This is their home now and a clean break with the past is to be made. If the past can be shown as all pain and suffering, then the break is easier to accomplish. Forgetting that Greek Cypriots used to live there, as King and Ladbury (1982) show, is accomplished by changing the names of villages, roads or areas in the north from their previous Greek name to a new Turkish one. Finally, Turkish Cypriots are encouraged to forget times of relative peace and coexistence with the Greek Cypriots. The Turkish Cypriot official silence with regards to past coexistence with Greek Cypriots, or the implicit view that such talk is treacherous is the exact analogue of the Greek Cypriot silence over incidents or periods of interethnic strife.
I have previously described how the social memory of the EOKA struggle and enosis is articulated on the Greek Cypriot side. To recapitulate briefly, the abandonment of this idea after 1967 or definitely by 1974 and the eventual catastrophe that those who pursued it brought about, has led Greek Cypriots to recast their past in new way. By viewing EOKA as a struggle primarily for independence and by being silent as regards the 1960 to 1974 period the significance of enosis is marginalized and eventually forgotten. The Turkish Cypriots, by contrast, not only stress that the aim of EOKA was enosis but as the 1960-74 period is very important in their social memory they remember that during this period enosis was still pursued, leading to the 1974 coup. As much as Greek Cypriots try to forget the appeal of this slogan after 1960 the Turkish Cypriots are determined not to forget this and (wrongly) insist that this is still the Greek Cypriots' aim. From the official Turkish Cypriot viewpoint EOKA was as much a struggle for enosis as one aimed against the Turkish Cypriots who were its victims. Turkish Cypriots feel that after 1960, EOKA and the struggle for enosis were both alive with the aim of exterminating them and they regard EOKA B as a continuation of EOKA. After all, they say, it staged the coup in order to bring about enosis. Commemorations of EOKA on the Greek Cypriot side are interpreted as exemplifying Greek Cypriot persistence in enosis. However, as I previously indicated, the meaning of the EOKA commemoration is quite different as the Greek Cypriot policy of silence regarding the pursuit of enosis during and after EOKA permits them to now celebrate EOKA as a movement for freedom or independence, with most Greek Cypriots having come to regard it in these terms. As Loizos (1974) and Markides (1974) also indicate EOKA and EOKA B were radically different not only in terms of their aims and composition but while the latter may have received widespread support by Greek Cypriots the latter was equally strongly detested.
The question why Turkish Cypriot authorities insist that Greek Cypriots still want enosis then requires further scrutiny. Turkish Cypriots often treat the enosis idea as yet another manifestation of Greek expansionism in the form of the Megali Idea (Great Idea), a perceived desire on the part of Greece to recreate the Byzantine empire and the coup as the analogue of the Greek offensive against Turkey in 1922. Inside the official Turkish Cypriot historical research center, for example, one of the offices is decorated with Greek and Greek Cypriot posters referring to Greek irredentist aspirations in Asia Minor along with Greek Cypriot posters in support of enosis.
The belief that Greek Cypriots presently desire enosis could be treated as misapprehension or mistaken projection from the past due to the fact that separation can easily breed misunderstanding. One might also see this as a case of a minority whose security preoccupations lead to its adoption of the worst case scenario. Yet, within the context of Turkish Cypriot society one could also propose a functional explanation for the perpetuation of this myth by the Turkish Cypriot authorities. First of all, the blame for the problems in Cyprus is placed on the Greek Cypriots' insistence for enosis, by arguing that they never respected the independence of Cyprus. That Greek Cypriots are portrayed as still wanting enosis is put forth as a justification for rejecting any change of the status quo, such as a solution to the Cyprus problem or an accommodation with Greek Cypriots. Given the hard line that the Turkish Cypriot leadership pursues in terms of a solution to the Cyprus problem and the more accommodating views of the opposition (Soysal 1992:42-3), the idea that Greek Cypriots still want enosis can be used to rally unity and support around the leadership and discredit the opposition. The opposition is thus accused that it supports an accommodation with Greek Cypriots, that will amount to throwing the Turkish Cypriots into the hands of Greek Cypriot who have no intention of respecting their desires but will proceed with enosis as soon as it will be possible for them to do so. The notion of enosis has become a symbol for Turkish Cypriots that encompasses the ideas previously mentioned as well as a claim for protection from Turkey. Its corollary is that Turkish Cypriots must remain close to Turkey in terms of cultural and economic relations but most importantly in terms of their identification with Turkish nationalism (or the Turkish national identity), if they are to be regarded as worthy of Turkey's protection.
Both sides in Cyprus actively try to influence not only what people on their side remember and forget but those of the other side as well. I have described how the Greek Cypriot government uses dhen xehno to remind Greek Cypriot refugees of their homes and keep the desire to return alive. One of the ways by which this is achieved is by showing, before the evening main news, a picture of a village or a church or a landscape now in the area controlled by Turkish Cypriots. This is accompanied by nostalgic music and the inscription dhen xehno. Greek Cypriots also try to reach out to the Turkish Cypriots via television in order to encourage the Turkish Cypriots who left their homes in 1974 and went to the north not to forget that their houses are still there and it's up to them to return whenever they so wish. This is accomplished through a weekly broadcast in Turkish by the name of Aktualite that contains a summary of the week's news and ends by showing an area where Turkish Cypriots used to live. What is explicitly pointed out in these broadcasts is that their homes, mosques, villages etc. are in a good condition and await for their inhabitants' return.
Turkish Cypriots by contrast, officially follow the opposite policy. While they are also engaged in broadcasting programmes with a political commentary in Greek directed at the Greek Cypriots, they mostly try to persuade their own people that this is now their country by encouraging a break with the past. On the south facing side of the mountain of Pentadaktilos, one of Ataturk's famous sayings has been written in large letters: 'Ne mutlu Turkum diyene (How happy to be able to say I am a Turk)'. Over this two enormous flags, that of Turkey and that of the 'Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus', have been 'painted' by whitewashing large areas of the mountainside. These are large enough to be visible from far away and they appear as - what one might call - 'property seals' on the landscape. One wonders whether this 'stamping' is not in fact addressed to both the Greek and Turkish Cypriots, in order to remind the former that this area is no longer 'theirs' and the latter that this is now 'their' country.
Discourses of the past do not just describe the past. They also implicitly express each side's view of the future and reflect future aims. Both sides argue they are committed to a federal solution. While the Greek Cypriots view this as an attempt to establish a unitary government that will allow the refugees to return and where the people can once more 'live together', the Turkish Cypriots think more in terms of a federal solution where the two sides will have a strong say in what takes place on each side and the people will live 'next to each other' and not together as the Greek Cypriots desire.
Greek Cypriot party policies towards memory and forgetting
The politics of memory and forgetting do not operate on the official level alone. This section focuses on the events of the coup and examines how two parties in Cyprus attempt to impose their interpretations of history precisely by debating what ought to be remembered or forgotten with regards to the 1974 coup.
The main parties contesting the interpretation of the modern history of Cyprus are the communist party AKEL and the right wing DISI. These are the strongest parties in Cyprus, each controlling over 30% of the votes, the rest being controlled by DIKO and EDEK who on this particular issue broadly ally themselves with AKEL. One of the outcomes of the division of the island was that Makarios, who was the President at the time, gave a general amnesty to all those involved in the coup, in the name of the need for unity among Greek Cypriots. Because of the amnesty the fakellos tis Kyprou (the Cyprus file, i.e. evidence for who is responsible for the coup) was never opened. Hence, officially this part of Cypriot history has not been written. AKEL, however, openly holds that those responsible for the coup have taken refuge in DISI and that there is a conscious attempt on the part of DISI to 'forget' the coup and the guilt of those responsible for its execution and its consequences. AKEL's members were one of the primary targets of the putschists both before and during the coup and AKEL thus has all the more reasons for asking for the punishment of those responsible. These considerations also reflect the frustration of AKEL that those largely responsible for the tragedy in Cyprus have not been judged for their crimes and also provide an opportunity to score political points against DISI.
DISI, by contrast, advocates that this is hardly the time for internal divisions as the difficult problems Cyprus faces can only be overcome if Greeks (meaning both Greek Cypriots and Greeks) stand united by putting their past conflicts behind. DISI being the party that champions the 'Hellenic-Christian ideals' and the need for closer links with Greece is also keen to 'forget' the coup as it is one of the primary symbols of Greek and Greek Cypriot conflict and as Greeks are often blamed for the subsequent catastrophe. Significantly, DISI's main motto for the 1991 Parliamentary Election was 'To the Future' and what was stressed in the campaign was not only the desire of DISI to create the bright future of a unified Cyprus that could join the E.C. but also the need to leave past divisions behind. DISI tries to score its own points against AKEL by arguing that continuous references to past divisions eventually undermine the unity of Greek Cypriots and indicate that AKEL gives priority to its own interests rather than those of the Greek Cypriots as a whole. The official statement of DISI for the 1991 commemoration clearly points these out:
The charge of promoting disunity is well known by AKEL and the following passage from a speech by Zannetos, the Secretary of the party, delivered in a ceremony commemorating the coup in 1991, is a clear statement of AKEL's policy :
 (my translation)
Again, while DISI is not explicitly mentioned it is clear, within the context of Greek Cypriot politics, that it is against DISI that these charges are levied.
The wording of these statements by these parties and also the newspapers that support them is interesting in itself. I have previously explained the significance and power of the dhen xehno (I don't forget) symbol which all Greek Cypriot parties equally endorse. This poses a special problem for DISI, that advocates a 'forgetting' of the previous conflict among Greek Cypriots (and between Greek Cypriots and Greeks), since the question may arise as to how come at the same time that certain things should not be forgotten, others should. On the other hand, it makes AKEL's position of not forgetting those responsible for the coup stronger. Thus, AKEL tries to capitalize on this by paraphrasing dhen xehno to talk of the coup in order to borrow from its emotive power. By contrast DISI tries to overcome this problem by using a different word lithi. While this means 'forgetting', it is a word hardly used in Cyprus. Yet, it appears that it had to be used in order to overcome the problem of using the more common xehno that could semantically conflict with its widely used negative dhen xehno. It must be noted that while AKEL (as well as DIKO and EDEK) hold yearly party-organized ceremonies in remembrance of the coup and its Greek Cypriot victims, DISI does not do so.
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