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The Shadow of 1974 Looms Ominously Over the Hellenic Republic

The fact that the restoration of democracy in Greece following a seven-year junta in July 1974 falls so close to the infamous anniversary of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus codenamed ‘Attila’ has a symbolic significance, beyond just the historic cause and effect linking the two events.

Following the Turkish invasion and illegal occupation of northern Cyprus in 1974 during two separate offensives, Turkey is now proceeding with a third – or according to others, fourth – Attila, involving the opening and colonization of the Varosha quarter in the barricaded city of Famagusta by the authorities of the Turkish Cypriot pseudostate. This comes on the heels of Turkish piracy eying Cyprus’ rich supply of hydrocarbons, protected by its internationally recognized Exclusive Economic Zone.

Likewise, despite the steady and peaceful transition of successive governments all these decades, democracy in Greece has had difficulty overcoming its traditional enemies inside the modern Greek state – illegitimate centers of power and partisanship. In their quest to secure the blessings of these illegitimate power brokers (foreign entities, eurocrats, local businessmen, etc.) to govern the nation (ergo, to get their hands on public coffers) Greece’s political parties have long since stopped concerning themselves with the national interest or good governance. They happily signed away the Macedonian name, approved catastrophic memoranda, seem content to allow Turkey to pick Greece apart piece by piece, and punish youth-starved Greece by increasing taxation on Greek families with more than two children, while generously funding illegal aliens.

In 1974, Ankara and Athens both assumed undertakings that were left unfinished. Only Turkey continues to work systematically to complete the Attila invasion by seizing whatever remaining parts of Cyprus it can, while securing the de jure recognition of the occupied territory.

On the other hand, Greece has done little to identify and remedy the weaknesses of its present polity, a nominal parliamentary democracy that in actuality seems more like a prime-ministerial oligarchy. Whatever changes were enacted (i.e., the constitutional revision of 1986) worsened the problems, upsetting the balance of power between prime minister and president, securing the former’s absolute prevalence and making the latter a mere figurehead.

Meanwhile, Hellenism is now called to respond to Turkey’s latest provocation – the annexation of 3.5 percent of Famagusta, in direct violation of UN resolutions (sic). Yet, despite Ankara’s continual hostility and lawlessness, the EU has avoided adopting measures – even symbolic ones – to send a clear message to Turkey. Instead, at the insistence of Germany the so-called “positive agenda” (appeasement) remains ever on the table, while EU solidarity for Greece and Cyprus is practically non-existent. It seems that Berlin and other EU member-states put their financial interests above the rule of law.

The absence of European solidarity for Hellenism comes as no surprise – especially after all that transpired in the past ten years – however, the strategy followed by Athens and Nicosia causes serious concern. The fact that they consciously avoid exercising their veto powers in order to compel the EU to do its due diligence sends the wrong message about the red lines that these two Hellenic states have set and just how far they are prepared to go to defend them. This position also likely creates confusion in the international community, which justifiably must wonder how they will ever be able to convince world powers like the United States or Russia to support them and stop Ankara from carrying out its dangerous plans, if they can’t even get the EU to fall in line.

Politicians and journalists claim to celebrate the restoration of democracy in Greece, but ignore concerning phenomena like the fact that the role of the premier actually makes him more royal than the king, national referendums can be reversed in the blink of an eye, a 2/3 majority is required to remove legalistic (non-constitutional) obstacles barring Greeks citizens living abroad from voting, but the Macedonian name can be sold out with a simple majority of 151 votes, etc. Even the current President of the Republic, who seems incapable of separating her ideology from the statutory role of her office, didn’t seem to bother to ensure that a Greek flag was placed in the background of her reception for the nation’s political leaders attending the annual celebration.

Turkey continues to work strategically and systematically to complete operation Attila. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Greece concerning the evolution of its democracy. There may not have been any coups since 1974 and the polity may be steady, however, in many instances, the manner in which the present leaders carry themselves doesn’t vary too much from past eras, when the polity was much more autocratic. Even today, there are persons occupying high level positions who seem to misunderstand their role, while outside centers of power continue to act as kingmakers and play a decisive role in critical policymaking.

A main quality of an evolving being is its ability to create defense mechanisms to protect itself from threats, and to find alternative mechanisms to secure its survival when those in place do not function as they should. Some five decades later, Hellenism continue to wait for contemporary democracy to demonstrate the necessary reflexes to ensure the survival of Greece and Cyprus.

Whether this will come in the form of assigning offices randomly to combat corruption, massive voting out of the present partisan lot and their replacement with non-partisan candidates who stand out for their ingenuity and self-sacrifice, or some other survival instinct, if democracy in Greece cannot overcome the growing pains of this protracted period of adolescence, with all the shallowness and childishness that accompanies it, then it will face annihilation at the hands of both its foreign enemies (Turkey) and its very own self-destructiveness, which has been haunting Hellenism over the past two centuries. 

Follow me on Twitter @CTripoulas

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