The key from the depths of time

Wishful thinking will not protect us from the truth

In the late 1970s, in my capacity as Minister of Foreign Affairs, I used to visit New York quite often, for our recourses to the United Nations. During my stay there, I was invited many times as the keynote speaker on Cyprus by Cypriot and Greek clubs and associations.

I was once at an Association of Greeks from Asia Minor, when an old man approached me with a large key in his hand.

“Minister, do you know what is this key?”, he asked.

“No”, I said.

“This key opens the door of my house in Smyrna. I still have it”, he said with a lot of emotion.

I took the old key in my hand. It was not simply a key. It reflected the history of that era.

“Do you still believe that you will go back?” He paused for a moment. “Not anymore”, he said. “I used to hope for almost thirty years. I expected that something might have happened after the Second World War. But now everything is gone…”

I looked at him with a lot of compassion. I recalled vividly at that moment the last lines of the book Aeolia by Elias Venezis (a famous Greek author).

Those were the days (in the year 1922) when the Greeks of Smyrna and of the flourishing Asia Minor, were massively fleeing from their land, using any boat or floating craft they could get hold of, to save themselves from the great carnage.

Venezis  writes: “Our dreams are sailing in the Aegean Sea. Our grandmother is tired. She wants to place her head on the chest of the grandfather, who has his eyes fixed on the space behind us, lest he manages to discern the land from where we have departed… However, nothing can be seen. The night has swallowed all forms and structures.

“The grandmother bends her head on the chest which has protected her over the long days of her life. There is something though which prevents her from finding a place to rest. Something like a lump, under the shirt of the old man.

“What is this thing here?” She asked indifferently.

“The grandpa moves his hand under the shirt and touches the small object, which lies against his body and hears his heartbeat.

“What is it?”

“Nothing,” the old man says in a timid voice, like a boy who has done something wrong. “It is nothing. It is some soil…. Soil from their land.”

“They can grow a basil plant on this soil in the foreign land where they are going. So that they can remember.

“Land…Land of Aeolia… My own land…”

The old man with the small lump of soil, the Greek American and his key… Millions of keys have rusted in the pockets of Greeks, Poles, Finns, Russians, Germans, Romanians, Chinese, Africans, Palestinians, Serbs, Bosnians, Latin Americans and many others, who have lost their homes without any compensation, in this ruthless world. Either through wars and conflicts or as a result of political accords, which have caused a redrafting of the world map.

Cyprus is a microcosm compared to the colossal numbers of refugees in the world. And like in the case of Asia Minor, in the case of Cyprus too, Hellenism is partly to blame for the tragic outcome. We, Greeks and Greek Cypriots, have responsibilities which we do not have the courage and the virtue to undertake. In the eyes of many Greek Cypriots, our side is sinless and faultless. For all ills and misfortunes which bedevil this land, only the foreigners, only the Turks, only third parties are to blame.

We are blameless. This is why we demand a full restoration of all our rights. So, guided by some politicians who are absolutely unfit to lead, who keep harping on the same nonsensical tunes, we are drifting towards Armageddon. We have reached partition or even probably the total loss of our country.

Makarios on February 12, 1977, after evaluating the situation in the midst of catastrophe, gave us the hard message (Makarios-Denktash Agreement) that “Questions of principle like freedom of movement, freedom of settlement, the right of property and other specific matters, are open for discussion, taking into consideration the fundamental basis of a bi-communal federal system and certain practical difficulties of the Turkish Cypriot Community”. This is what Makarios agreed, who had the courage to show the way to the solution of the Cyprus problem, after his mistakes during the first fourteen years of the Republic of Cyprus.

However, many Greek Cypriots either ignore, or distort or misinterpret the above Agreement, as it may fit their own interests.




Probably the most eminent Greek politician of all times, Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos, had described in 1931 the political thinking of the Greek Cypriot leadership as “nonsensical”.

“(Venizelos’ view) was based on a correct assessment of the dynamics and interests of the Powers which controlled the area, but his advice was not taken into account in those years and also later on by a Greek-Cypriot leadership, that one could describe mildly as unfit and inadequate; a leadership which acted at that time and continued to act in the future in a thoughtless and haphazard way.” (N. Charalambous, Phileleftheros, October 24, 2010).

So, we in Cyprus, have ignored both Venizelos and Makarios. We have also rejected the advice of Georghios Papandreou and Constantinos Karamalis and of almost all other Greek leaders over the past 80 years. The UN Secretaries-General, their Special Representatives in Cyprus and to a large extent all other international and European officials in Cyprus, are traitors and enemies of the people, this is why we swear at them. So we sealed ourselves in our shell, we have fixed the nameplate “Cyprus ownership” on the intercommunal talks and we sit back enjoying the “wisdom” of some Cypriot politicians, who are the only ones in the world endowed by the Lord with the charisma of correct judgement. Einstein indicated that stupidity is perhaps more infinite than the universe itself, but frankly I never thought that in Cyprus we would be running after stupidity in the boundless astral space.

The talks with the other community have reached a pivotal stage. By rejecting one initiative after another during the past sixty years, we have managed to convert Turkey, which was the culprit for many years, into an accuser(!), in the eyes of the world community.

We do know very well that there are certain issues which, irrespective of our own wishful thinking, will never be resolved our way, unless we win a new war, after the war we lost in 1974. For example, it has been made clear during the past 36 years that the Turkish Cypriots will never accept the return of all refugees to their homes, especially in densely inhabited areas of the north – which is also reflected in the Makarios-Denktash Agreement of 1977 and in some recent decisions of the European Court of Human Rights. In the first years after the invasion many more refugees might have returned. Nowadays the number is quite smaller and when we have the final curtain, probably nobody will go back. However, thirty years ago and also more recently, our “gifted” politicians were rejecting all initiatives. Besides, the preservation of an unresolved Cyprus problem was for them a “raison d’etre” (reason for being). I warned many times and I also resigned from the post of Foreign Minister, but my voice fell on deaf ears….

The sacred soil of Elias Venezis’ grandfather, the key of the old Greek American and the strong desires of the Cypriot refugees, are all locked in the whirlwind of a much larger, hard reality of forceful territorial adjustments.

Especially we in Cyprus, are partly responsible for our suffering. It may be difficult to digest and admit the truth, but “the truth will liberate us”, as the Bible teaches.

The sooner we perceive the truth, the more we shall save and preserve for both communities on this island, which was set on fire by Greek and Turkish Cypriots during the past 50 years.