Located at a strategic position in the eastern Mediterranean sea, Cyprus, in the course of its history has frequently switched hands in-between powers which maintained an interest in the region. The list of its successive rulers includes the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Phoenicians, the Byzantines, the Venetians, the Ottoman Turks, and finally before the1960 declaration of independence, the British.
Amidst all of these populations only two of them had a significant impact on the demographic structure of the Cypriot society. The Greeks, which settled on the island during the second millennium B.C, and the Turks, which sat foot on Cyprus during the period of the Ottoman empire, when, in 1571, the armies of Lala Mustapha seized Famagusta, last city to resist them on the island. Cyprus remained under Ottoman rule until the congress of Berlin in 1878 where it was ceded to Britain. The terms of the agreement stipulated that Britain was to occupy and administer the island in exchange of a promise to help Turkey defend itself against Russia if need arose. In 1914, after Turkey had joined forces with the Central powers, Britain unilaterally declared the 1878 convention null and annexed Cyprus. This illegal (in face of international law) situation was resolved by the Lausanne treaty of 1923 which stipulated that Turkey recognized ab initio (from the 5th of November 1914) the British annexation of Cyprus.
In recent history, the Cyprus problem has gone through three phases while we are now (with the probable acceptance of Cypriot membership in the EU) probably witnessing the beginning of a fourth one. From 1923 until 1960 it was mainly a colonial issue. From 1960 to 1974 the problem became an internal one, in which external powers where involved. These powers where Greece, Turkey, Britain and (although the importance of superpower involvement has been cited quite many times) to a lesser extent the USA and the Soviet Union. After the Turkish invasion of 1974, the Cypriot problem has revolved over the de facto partition of the island and the illegal proclamation of the TRNC. (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus) in 1983 which has been condemned by UN resolution 541.
In this paper I will be mostly focusing on the first and second time periods. More precisely I will try to find the psychological causes of the ethnic violence that first erupted in 1963. In order to do so I will shortly present a number of theories which might explain the causes of conflict and I will try to show the elements in the history of Cyprus that enable us to point to these theories (or to refute them) as an explanation of the communal violence. Alternative, non psychological, explanations of this conflict will also very shortly be presented, and as a conclusion, a short assessment (deriving from the paper) of the analytical strength of both types of explanations will be presented.
[...] In effect nationalism links individuals' self esteem to the esteem in which the nation is held.” But can this theory provide us with a plausible explanation of the causes of conflict in Cyprus in 1963? I believe it can. The newly acquired constitution of 1960 was not very well received by the Greek Cypriot community. Indeed, when the details of the agreement were made public, irritation and indignation where the immediate reactions of the Greek Cypriot population. This is due to the fact that the constitution institutionalised communal dualism in all spheres of governmental activities. [...]
[...] Papandreou stated that it would not be conversation but two monologues, two deaf men talking about different things.” Further evidence of this fact can be found in the report of the American under secretary of state, George Ball, which had tried to reconcile the two parties, when he “informed President Johnson that the atmosphere in the troubled zone was not conductive for the practice of diplomacy Non psychological explanations of the conflict In this short section I will run through some of the most familiar non psychological explanations that have been offered when trying to explain the Cypriot ethnic conflict. [...]
[...] More precisely I will try to find the psychological causes of the ethnic violence that first erupted in 1963. In order to do so I will shortly present a number of theories which might explain the causes of conflict and I will try to show the elements in the history of Cyprus that enable us to point to these theories (or to refute them) as an explanation of the communal violence. Alternative, non psychological, explanations of this conflict will also very shortly be presented, and as a conclusion, a short assessment (deriving from the paper) of the analytical strength of both types of explanations will be presented. [...]
[...] As the nature of these approaches would suggest they provide us with interesting answers in regard to some of the questions that necessarily arise from non psychological explanation of conflict and their multiple assumptions about the individual or the groups involved. In this work, I have pointed to the incompatibility of beliefs, to the human need to have enemies and allies, to the psychocultural interpretation process, but also to social identity theory and the power of misperceptions as important factors in the conflict. [...]
[...] Thus (even if it was possible to analyse the socialisation process and identify the group towards which the process was aimed) it seemed hard to predict (at the time) the outbreak of the conflict but also it's timing solely on a psychological basis. In support of my comment, I will cite Leonard W.Doob's article on Cypriot Patriotism and nationalism.In his research this author found evidence to support the idea of a “Cypriot patriotism that transcended Turkish and Greek Cypriot patriotism”While I wish not to extensively refer here to the eight points that back up his statement, the important thing to remember is that it is possible that the Turkish and Greek communities respectively were not (at least always) the targets of this externalisation process since fundamentally they were not hostile to one another. [...]
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