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A Stark Anniversary

By on July 10, 2024
Dimitri C. Michalakis

by Dimitri C. Michalakis

This year marks the 50th year anniversary of the brutal invasion of Cyprus—with no resolution or redress of this injustice. I remember the fire and fury when this happened—how young men here signed up to go fight for Cyprus—and all the demonstrations and forays on Washington by Greek-American leaders. I remember politicians paying lip service during that time at a demonstration at one of the Astoria parks and then hurrying off to make another appearance somewhere else and make promises there. I remember all the committees and all the brave souls who kept the cause alive, and continue to do so. I remember talking to a prominent Cypriot leader here who talked about visiting his old home, now occupied by Turks, and the man there telling him with a shrug, They gave it to us, why should we say no? It’s almost too heartbreaking. And further heartbreaking that the people who were displaced, or from families who were displaced, are aging out of the fight and a new generation has other agendas and has accepted the status quo. Mitsotakis is shaking hands with Erdogan. The invasion of Cyprus, and the failure of the international community to reverse it is par for the course in international realpolitik—and the invasion of Ukraine is its heir. Cyprus has managed to thrive despite this injustice, but the bald reality is that countries and their tyrants will continue to commit atrocities, and people will die and suffer and be displaced, and the international community will do nothing about it, as we see every day. That is the sad reality on this tragic anniversary.

I remember I was in college when this happened and working on putting out a magazine for the Chian Federation and also writing for The Hellenic Times. I covered some of the rallies, wrote several stories, spoke to the young men who wanted to go fight for the cause, and covered the politics of appealing to the American government to do something. It was both heartening to hear the patriotic fervor, and disheartening to see the stonewalling and political futility of appealing to the conscience of government leaders who were thinking only of their own interests, or may have had good intentions, but were powerless to move the gears of government and international politics to help us. I came away proud of our little community, and how united it was, for once, and how much noise and an impact it had made in Congress. There were tons of photo ops, but the photos look dated now, and the new photo ops look dated on the spot.

Enjoy the summer and the beauties of our two countries, but, unfortunately, the reckoning for injustice in this world is a continuing battle and the fight goes on: the land and seas of Greece and Cyprus, and America, are beautiful, but they were won with blood.

About Dimitri C. Michalakis

Dimitri C. Michalakis is Editor in Chief on NEO Magazine.