The Politics Of Memory And Forgetting (5)
It was the highest idealthen.. We were the cream of the youth.. The gaps indicate the difficulty infinding the right expressions. Using 'then' implies that he knows that this isnot the case any more; talking of enosis as the 'highest ideal' pursuedby the 'cream of the youth' shows both the idealistic and pure nature of thestruggle. The change in the status of the Turkish Cypriots after 1974 is alsoquite significant. Greek Cypriots call the events of 1963 'i tourkoantarsia(the Turkish mutiny)' as they argue that the Turks were trying to undermine thestatus of the republic and set up their own administration in accordance withtheir separatist aims. After the events of 1974, however, things changed as theneed to reunite the island made Greek Cypriots reevaluate their aims. This ledto the desire to live peacefully with the other ethnic group, that were beingreferred to more and more as the Turkish Cypriots (rather than the Turks); thepast was also recast as one of 'peaceful coexistence'. The Turkish Cypriotscould even be referred to as 'brothers' and reunification of the island withits corollary idea of 'epanaprosegisi (rapprochement)' came to be thenew collective aims.The word vromoshilloiaccording to a number of my informants from both sides, was widely used byGreek Cypriots in the past, especially in the 1960-74 period to referderogatorily to the Turkish Cypriots.Concepts of space and time,that may inform any conversation, often show a different view of the past thanthe one put forth by the younger generation (and the official one). ' meaningthe intercommunal conflict of 1958 that took place in the area. By contrast, tothe younger these words refer solely to 1974. Concepts of space also indicatethe differing experiences of the older and the younger generations. While theelders may refer to the creation of the Green line, or to the beginning of thedivision of the two communities meaning some time at or before 1963, the youngones associate 'division' exclusively with 1974.When I was given permissionto visit the northern part of Nicosia in order to carry out research there, forthe younger people I was going to the 'occupied area (katehomena)'. Thiswas accompanied by a feeling of a shock (and in few cases of suspicion) that aGreek Cypriot was to be allowed to cross the dividing line. Coming now to thequestion of why there seems to be so little intergenerational transfer of thesememories, the answer, I think, is to be found in the government's policy ofrapprochement. The international aspect of the problem is also important. Thereis always the fear that would the Greek Cypriots admit to atrocities againstthe Turkish Cypriots in an attempt to - so to speak - clean the slate and showto Turkish Cypriots that Greek Cypriots are aware of these and regret them, theTurkish Cypriots might not reciprocate this gesture. Whether this is aconscious effort to comply with the policy of their government or due to thestructuring of their memories and experience by the official narrative of thepast, it is difficult to say.Secondly, even if they weremade in private the tone was often rather 'conspiratorial' in the sense thatthere was a lowering of the voice and the informant would edge closer to mewhile describing the events. This certainly raises questions regarding thetruth of these events or the motives of the informant for telling me these. Inusing the word 'refugee', they point to the injustice of the government that hasgiven ample aid to the 'refugees of 74' but no aid to themselves who are also'refugees'.Herzfeld (1982) has shownthe importance of the akrites in Greek historiography and folklore, asthe heroic guardians of the borders of the Byzantine empire against Muslimintruders. Since the authorities and media also celebrate the 'heroism' of the akritesof Kato Enories, the residents of the area, especially the older ones, or thosewhose family has been living there for some time, sometimes come up withfinancial dsuccessfully claim from theauthorities.An important point ofdivergence between the accounts of the past that these two groups put forward,whether this be in the context of recounting the 'national' history (ofCyprus), local or personal history, lies in their treatment of the 1960-74period. The Greek Cypriot official silence also contributes to this.The last significant factorwith regards to differences between accounts of the past is that of politicalparty affiliation. Later, it was the 'right wing fanatics' that wereresponsible for the killings of many Turkish Cypriots and left wing GreekCypriots during the period of independence. Some of the people I spoke to whohad been in the army during the post-1967 period when it was controlled byjunta-appointees, have many memories of harassment to the point of torture inthe hands of the Greek officers.Cyprus is small enough tooften allow for the sighting down the street of the person who 'burst into myhouse and arrested me during the coup'. Blaming the 'right' for the inter- andintracommunal killings and the eventual division of the island is an attempt tobring about justice for what official justice has not dealt with. '. Themissing referent in these is of course the Cyprus Problem. They argue that the'communists' are not real 'patriots' as they have not taken part in any of thestruggles of the Cypriots and do not ideologically espouse the'Hellenic-Christian ideals'. Those of the extreme right, especially if theytook part in the fights against the Turkish Cypriots, may regard theirinvolvement with pride. The official Greek Cypriot silence with regards to the1960-74 period leaves ample space for this interpretation of the past.