Tassos Papadopoulos

Image: Passportguy via Wikimedia Creative Commons

Image: Passportguy via Wikimedia Creative Commons

I know it doesn’t happen often, but whilst watching the British phenomenon of The X Factor, I began to think about politics. More specifically, the political affairs and upheavals of Cyprus, the world’s only divided island. I wondered if George Michael (home country, Cyprus) was aware that the remains of Tassos Papadopoulos, Cyprus’ President 2003-2008, had, during the midst of a thunderstorm, been stolen in what was called a ‘’planned and deliberate attack’’ by Cypriot authorities.

Papadopoulos, when in power, proved to be a controversial figure. The pinnacle of his career occurred in 2004 with his passionate plea to VOTE NO, which moved the population to vote 76% in favour. Papadopoulos firmly believed that the rejection of the Annan Plan, which would have made steps to unite the Greek and Turkish sides of the island, would be a negative influence on Cyprus. Even now, the sprawling graffiti emblazoned across schools and buildings in Nicosia, the island’s capital, and Limassol, remains as a poignant reminder. Indeed, the ‘’Cyprus dispute’’ affects the whole island on almost a daily basis. The big question on everyone’s lips: what would it mean if Cyprus should become united and the Green Line crumble? Certainly, the UN and seemingly the political opinion of many neighbouring countries would be satisfied, after years of attempted settlement. However, it still seems that after 35 years, the Greek Cypriots cannot forgive the Turkish invasion of 1974 The possibility of unification holds less appeal, especially in the elder community that the acknowledgment that Turks took over family homes, arable land and defeated a proud military force in the Northern sector of Cyprus. The invasion also cost the lives of 371 Britons, yet the struggle for peace is still ongoing, and the robbery of Papadopoulos’ body may again ignite the flame to an ever-burning fire.

Certainly, no-one can disagree with Andros Kyprianou, leader of the Akel party, when he says the desecration is ‘’macabre and utterly condemnable.’’ However, the violation has massive implications for Cypriot future. If the body is recovered on Turkish land, efforts for peace and the UN input may deteriorate to even the possibility of military unrest. There are several clues as to why the body may, ominously, be recovered on Turkish land, displayed by the undertone of worry and uncertainty passing through both the Cypriot and expatriate community. Whilst Demetris Christofias, Cyprus’ current president, is attempting to retain public calm, the fact that the robbery occurred the day before the first anniversary of Papadopoulos’ death, and that his gravestone was also covered in a white substance seems to suggest that the robbers were not stealing to gain a body for personal or group worship. Combining this fact with the complete lack of leads and clues as to the location of the body, and Cyprus’ choice to call on the services of Interpol seems to total to a grave situation.

However, there certainly are many other possibilities as to why Papadopoulos’ body was stolen. Speaking with George Kyriakou, the suggestion of ransom is possible. ‘’It’s not a comforting thought, but Mrs Papadopoulos may soon face the possibility of being approached by whoever committed the act.’’ Many are also harshly critical of the economic plans Papadopoulos implemented- exports have decreased and agriculture has also been tumultuous, with potato farmers going on strike twice in the past year. By no stretch of the imagination should the finger of blame be pointed at Turkey, but we must remember that Papadopoulos political motives and desires throughout his career were irrevocably linked with the movements in both Turkey and discussions with Mehmet Ali Talat (Turkish president.) The robbery has primarily led to the memories of his career being revived. His infamous statement ‘’I received a state, I will not deliver a community’’ seems to resonate louder than ever. At heart, Papadopoulos was a guerrilla, someone who made enemies. This is a rare occurrence for Cyprus, a condemnable and diabolical act- all that can be done is to wait, and wait for hopefully an outcome that is not one of extremism and political crisis.

3 comments

  1. 21 Dec ’09 at 4:38 pm

    Ilias Christofi

    Love, Have you read the Annan Plan? I know the answer. It was not going to reunite Cyprus.It was going create a loose confederation of two ethnically pure states based on ethnic division where legal title to homes and free movement would be restricted based on ethnicity. Like apartheid or race segregation. I personally would not have been allowed to return to my home or anywhere near my town in Kyrenia based purely on my religion/race. How is that going to reunite Cyprus. Read the entire Annan Plan before you talk about it “reuniting” anything, darling. I have recognized legal entitlements/Human rights I can pursue in Court which would have been extinguished with a “yes” vote. Little more research than “google” or “wikipedia”required.Thanks

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  2. “Tassos Papadopoulos, Cyprus’ Prime Minister 2003-2008”

    Papadopoulos was Cyprus’ President.

    “The pinnacle of his career occurred in 2004 with his passionate plea to VOTE NO, which moved the population to vote 76% in favour.”

    to vote 76% against, surely?

    “after 35 years, the Greek Cypriots cannot forgive the Turkish invasion of 1974”

    It’s not as if the other side has done much to help Greek Cypriots forgive; hundreds of thousands of Turkish settlers have emigrated to the occupied territories, breaking international law, living in people’s stolen houses, and creating a situation which is in many ways similar to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. As long as those settlers remain in Cyprus, no solution will ever be accepted by the Greeks. And as long as Greek-Cypriots do not accept a solution, Turkey will never join the EU – a solution to this conflict is now a legal requirement for entry.

    As for Papadopoulos, in my opinion he was much too right-wing a politician, but it goes without saying that he was a decent man and a passionate defender of Cyprus’ national interests. It is not often you see the President of a nation tearfully begging his citizens not to commit national suicide.

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  3. “Cyprus, the world’s only divided island”

    Are you serious?

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