Cyprus, a Diverse Case: Building National Identity, National Memory, and Perceptions through History
Cyprus is a very significant issue of history in terms of nationalism. In addition, the Cyprus Problem has been on the international agenda for more than four decades. The island’s geo-strategic importance, the fact of a multitude of actors involved and external factors which originates from the nature of the international political system have prevented an objective evaluation of the Cyprus Problem and make it a very feasible subject to study nationalism. Most significantly, the issue of writing a commonly acceptable history of the problem and understanding the mutual perceptions involved has largely been shaped with political interests and history in terms of nationalism. The issue of mutual perceptions, how they were formed and developed is of crucial importance in order to find a solution to the problem. An objective perspective in the current situation on Cyprus requires a thorough understanding of the island’s history and the mutual perceptions both in Cyprus as a nation and in the two mother nations, Turkey and Greece. The Turkish and Greek communities living on the island are perceived as extensions of the motherlands. Cyprus had a strategic significance for Britain, Greek and Ottoman Empire through out decades. It was believed that if Cyprus was lost, then they would not have access to the Mediterranean Sea. Moreover, after the 1990s, we see another actor in the Cyprus question: the EU, with which Turkey wants to be a member and UN, which try to take the role as a mediator. All of the aspects of Cyprus Problem above make the subject open to multi-dimensional research. Yet, in terms of the academic aim of this paper, I will focus on an objective understanding of the Cyprus Problem, which I believe, that passes from looking at the history of Cyprus and the historical backgrounds of the events in Cyprus that led to the current conflict. The reasons of the conflict today lie in the true and false historical accounts of Cyprus History. In that respective, first part of the paper will focus on the history of Cyprus and Cyprus Problem while the second half will try to demonstrate that the perceptions, national memories and the process of nation-building in both sides are the major factors, which shape the situation today and have vital importance in order to find a solution to the Cyprus Problem.
Keywords: Cyprus, National Identity, National Memory, History of Cyprus Problem
Instructor, Ph.D student, History Department, Texas Tech University