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Politicians cry ‘foul’ over Church leader’s comments 3 mai 2011

Posted by Acturca in EU / UE, History / Histoire, South East Europe / Europe du Sud-Est, Turkey / Turquie.
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Cyprus Mail, May 3, 2011

Elias Hazou

Archbishop Chrysostomos has once again got into the politicians’ crosshairs after remarking that Cyprus « duped » the European Union into accepting the island into its ranks and by suggesting that politicos are to blame for the island’s continued division.

In a televised interview with Greece’s SKAI channel, the Prelate predicted that ongoing peace talks would lead nowhere, he dismissed the current model of the negotiations as an « Annan-type plan » that would be rejected by the vast majority of Greek Cypriots, and said Cyprus had got into the EU on the false promise of solving the political problem.

It was the latter remark that drew the ire of politicians from across the board – hardly unfamiliar territory for the outspoken Prelate. Chrysostomos has repeatedly been advised not to meddle in political affairs, but has taken such warnings in his stride.

It also came on the 7th anniversary of the island’s accession to the bloc. It was also similar to a comment made by Gunther Verheugen, the EU Enlargement Commissioner in 2004 immediately after Greek Cypriots rejected the Annan plan and were gear up for EU membership only days later.

Responding to a question by the SKAI interviewer on Sunday, Chrysostomos said: « Let me be frank. We duped the Europeans and that is why they got us inside [the EU]. It was not Tassos Papadopoulos who tricked them…others had promised the EU that we would solve the Cyprus problem [after accession]. »

He added: « It was President [Glafcos] Clerides who promised to push through the Annan Plan. But then he lost the elections, and when Tassos Papadopoulos came to power he said ‘No go’. In any case, the Annan Plan would have led to the dissolution of the Republic. »

The Prelate went on to predict that if a similar peace blueprint were put to Greek Cypriots an even greater percentage than in 2003 would reject it in a possible referendum.

And in a bid to pre-empt accusations that was stepping out of his bounds, Chrysostomos said:

« During the course of two thousand years, with the Church at the helm, this land remained Greek and Christian. Within fifty years since you politicians took over, you have left us with half the island. So sit tight and listen to the Church, which has a two thousand-year experience, understand this. We do not claim the title of Ethnarch [national leader]. I do not need it. »

Moving on, the Archbishop said it was unacceptable for Greek Cypriots to even discuss the prospect of Turkish settlers remaining on the island post-settlement, and cited demographics as a major concern:

« The Turkish Cypriots are no more than 80,000. The settlers number between 250,000 and 300,000. Everyone knows that these people from Anatolia – and all settlers are from Anatolia – each family has a dozen children. Over here, the Turkish Cypriots were on the same level with us: one, two, three children, rarely a fourth or a fifth. So naturally, the increase in population for both communities was on the same level.

« But when you these people from Anatolia who sire children left and right, then it is a matter of time before Cyprus is Turkified. We must be wary of this. In fact, often I have said that even if they give us the best Constitution in the world but we agree that the settlers stay here, Cyprus will be Turkified in the space of 20 to 25 years. So the settlers need to go, they must abandon Cyprus. »

The Archbishop’s remarks could only cause harm to the Greek Cypriots’ cause, the government spokesman said later in the day.

In particular, said Stefanos Stefanou, the comment that Greek Cypriots duped the EU would play into the hands of Turkey, which « daily argues that Cyprus should not have been allowed to join the bloc while the Cyprus problem remained unsolved. »

On the remark regarding the role of the politicians, Stefanou said: « So the responsibility for the Cypriot tragedy does not lie with the junta in Athens and EOKA B? Does it not lie with Turkey who invaded in 1974?

« And if responsibility for the island’s division rests with the politicians, does that include Makarios who…signed the Zurich-London agreements and for 17 years was President of the Republic? »

Far from uniting the people, such remarks by the Archbishop were divisive, Stefanou concluded.

Similar denunciations came from most of the political parties. DISY’s Christos Pourgourides was particularly scathing in his critique of the Archbishop:

« His reference to us duping the Europeans was a big foul, » Pourgourides said. « It could cause irreparable damage to our cause. With these comments, the Archbishop may have burnt the only card we have left, our reliance on the EU, since from now on they will think of us as having tricked them. »

He added: « Let the Church and the Archbishop stick to spiritual affairs and guide the flock to a better path. Once he has accomplished that, then we may begin to consider that he is qualified to contribute to the political game. »

AKEL MP Nikos Katsourides accused Chrysostomos of « posing as an Ethnarch, as being above the political parties and the people. I don’t think this is the role of the Archbishop, or of the Church, or anyone at that. »

Though more lenient on the Archbishop, DIKO’s Nicholas Papadopoulos said he disagreed with the analysis that Cyprus joined the EU because it deceived the Europeans.

« The reason we got in the EU was because the Greek parliament at the time decided that if Cyprus did not join, then neither would any other former Soviet Republic, » said Papadopoulos.


1. Ayhan - 5 mai 2011

There is nothing to « negotiate ». The problem was solved with the 1974 Peace Operation. Turkish Cypriots live free from Greek Cypriot hegemony in their own independent state. The best part is that there are no Greek Cypriots. I do not know why Turkey and TRNC participate in so-called « negotiations » or allow themselves to be subjected to Greek-Greek Cypriot and EU terrorism. Tuekey should cease « Cyprus talks » immediately and withdraw the EU membership application. Every second these processes continue, we are denigrating ourselves more.

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