By George Gregoriou
I read Michalis Ignatiou’s interview with Archbishop Iakovos in the Greek News (July 21) on the tragic events in Cyprus in 1974 with great interest. What appears in this feature article is a factual reportage of the behind-the-scenes exchange between Iakovos and Kissinger. There is no doubt that Iakovos’ positioning, as a Turkish citizen whose tenure as Archbishop depended on the Patriarch, was untenable. But there are certain facts which need to be stated for the historical record. Otherwise, the interview and the reportage in the Greek News would be incomplete.
Greek-Americans in the anti-junta movement have another version of these events. What Archbishop Iakovos did for Cyprus with the powers that be in Washington and to promote the return of Karamanlis to Athens in 1974 are peripheral to the larger historical role he played. Iakovos, to be sure, is not responsible for the junta coup d’ etat on April 21, 1967 nor did he determine US policy towards Greece. Greece came under American hegemony since the Greek Civil War, with its politics and economy, its military-intelligence apparatuses, and Cyprus policy determined by this clientelist relationship. Key positions in government, the military, and the Greek CIA (KYP) were cleared through the Palace and the U.S. embassy in Athens.
It is also well-known that Archbishop Iakovos, along with the Greek-American establishment, was an ardent supporter of the junta,. Those of us in the anti-junta movement had no illusions on this. I was at one of the clerical-laity conventions in Athens. I was not invited. I followed the Greek-Americans, thinking they being treated to a classical play in Athens. It was a play alright, a gathering of Greek orthodox priests and laity from the U.S. The theater we were treated was the appearance of dictator Papadopoulos and company. I was sitting at the bleeches, surrounded by KYP men, observing the accolates of the Greek clergy and laity to the fascist thugs for saving Greece for the “Christian Greeks” and the United States-NATO. My knees were shivering, made worse because I took another person with me who had no idea how deeply I was involved in the anti-junta movement. I saw nothing but enemies all around me, including the Archbishop and his entourage.
History is not like a bus ride, one gets on or off the bus at will. Those who supported the junta and its criminal actions in Cyprus bear responsibility for the tragic events in 1974. These events are still with us, 30 years later. The U.S. governments were not innocent bystanders. Their pro-Turkish policy is well-known, from the 1950s to 1974 or 2003.
Ignatiou’s interview reveals something else. What a bafoon Kissinger was. He assumed the thousands of Greek Americans who took to the streets would go home if Iakovos or someone else sent them! Or the millions of Greeks around the world would forgive and forget the treacherous policies with the passage of time. Greeks still remember 1453 and 1922, why would they forget 1974?
The “tiff” between Iakovos and Kissinger is of no consequence. If there is any absolution for the Archbishop and his junta supporters it has to come from the 200,000 refugees in Cyprus, the thousands dead and missing, and those who suffered the seven-year junta in Greece and the partition of Cyprus. So many lives have been damaged by these events and tragedy, way beyond the 30 years. I am not prepared to forgive Archbishop Iakovos and his circle of junta supporters, nor the Greek junta establishment or Washington for hoisting the junta on the Greek people and giving it the green light to overthrow Makarios and Turkey to partition Cyprus.
Professor, Critical Theory and Geopolitics
The William Paterson University, N.J.