Memories of the past play an important role in deciding our present and future. They even have a potential of molding the course of our life. Different people sharing the same history may have a different perspective of looking at it; therefore they develop their own different set of memories based on their individual events. This is exactly what happened to the Greeks and Turks as a result of political and military events in Cyprus. Where the centre of this memory is same: Cyprus, how two sides of the same story vary greatly, is quite amusing. Memories about Cyprus affected the lives of Greeks and Turks greatly however they both chose to respond to it differently and that is what changed the course of their lives.
The Turkish invasion of Cyprus, launched on 20 July 1974, was a Turkish military invasion in response to a Greek military junta backed coup in Cyprus. It is known in Turkey as the Cyprus Peace Operation (Turkish: K-br-s Bar?
Harekat?), Cyprus Operation (K-br-s Harekat?) or by its Turkish Armed Forces code name Operation Atilla (Atilla Harekat?). The coup, staged by the Cypriot National Guard in conjunction with EOKA B, deposed the Cypriot president Archbishop Makarios III and installed Nikos Sampson in his place. More than one quarter of the population of Cyprus was expelled from the occupied northern part of the island where Greek Cypriots constituted 80% of the population. There was also a flow of roughly 60,000 Turkish Cypriots from the south to the north after the conflict. The Turkish invasion ended in the partition of Cyprus along the UN-monitored Green Line which still divides Cyprus today. In 1983 the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) declared independence, although Turkey is the only country which recognises it.
As a result of the Turkish invasion, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe stated that the demographic structure of the island has been continuously modified as a result of the deliberate policies of the Turks. Following the occupation of Northern Cyprus, civilian settlers from Turkey began arriving on the island. Despite the lack of consensus on the exact figures, all parties concerned admitted that Turkish nationals began systematically arriving in the northern part of the island in 1975. It was suggested that over 120,000 settlers were brought into Cyprus from mainland Turkey. ." In a report prepared by Mete Hatay on behalf of PRIO, the Oslo peace center, it was estimated that the number of Turkish mainlanders in the north who have been granted the right to vote is 37,000. This figure however excludes mainlanders who are married to Turkish Cypriots or adult children of mainland settlers as well as all minors. The report also estimates the number of Turkish mainlanders who have not been granted the right to vote, whom it labels as "transients," at a further 105,000.
In order to understand the history of this event, we need to look into both sides of memories and understand the basic gist of this event:
"A Happy Peace Operation" is considered as a golden chapter in the history of Turkey when the heroes of Turkish Army came to the rescue of the Turks captured in Cyprus who were at the mercy of Greeks. Greeks were portrayed as an example of barbarism and savagery. There are pictures available all around Turkish media which shows the Turkish-Cypriots suffering as a result of mass massacre in Cyprus. This is how this event is portrayed in Turkish notebooks in Schools.
However, we look at the how this event memorized in Greece; we will find a completely opposite picture. This mush hated event is known as "The Conquest of Cyprus by the Ottomans." It is said that the way the sultanate of Turkish Sultan was expanding, it was obvious that Cyprus would be captured one day and furthermore they are responsible for the poverty, the wave of fear and atrocity in that area today.
How can there be two opposite stories about one historic episode. It is history and memory which decide the face and development of the society. Especially in societies which have spent decades captured in fear instigated by the violent conflict which affected the lives of thousands, the history is often colored by their version of memory and pain that the residents of these societies had to go through. In Cyprus, the present and future of this land is highly determined by the memories of these people; it is the remembrance of the past which decides where their present will head as a nation (Anderson, 1983).
Where the lives of common citizens are designed by their memories, the political and social debated on both the sides are also affected by the varied versions of the same events. Due to this hatred towards each other; this small land is divided into two regions: The Turkish Cypriot and the Greek Cypriot. Where the Greek Cypriot is an official state recognized by and part of European Union; the Turkish Cypriot is an independent state which is self-proclaimed. It is known as The Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC) and is recognized by Turkey only.
Since both the states have a long heated history, full of struggle and conflicts; therefore nationalism is the vital notion governing both the states. This is the same theme which designs the political motives as well. Since the citizens and politicians on both the sides have used their history as weapon for their own motives and creating a feeling of belonging with their state; the conflicting memories have made Cyprus's history a bone of contention itself where two different states are in a pursuit of creating a national pedigree out of it, yet both defining opposite facts (Bourdieu and Jean, 1996).
The educational system and other modes of heritage transfer and display such as museums, myths, and common stories told, are expected to devise the memories in the minds of those who haven't witnessed the events themselves (Karahassan and Zembylas, (2006). Hence, the universal historical consciousness in a society is greatly determined by the way these carriers of the past express the historical narrative and depict important past victories and battles. Where memories of the old residents have been responsible for presenting a rather conflicting history of the land of Cyprus, it is noticeable that there are two conflicting trends which can found in it. First, the presentation of historic events regarding Cyprus is very much nationalistically designed in the frame of reference of both the societies (Bowman). Second, the debate regarding the historic reality of Cyprus in historians and sociologists also surrounds the concept of nationalism and its impact on the current situation. Where Nationalism in these regions have managed to emerge as a concept which enjoys an increasing interest, during this process, few historians have managed to prove that their peers and the government of these lands have managed to present a predisposed view of history mainly based on hearsay and no logical evidence. Some studies on history education, memory and nationalism in Cyprus emerged and small groups of professional historians and sociologists have published studies on the notion of nationalism in Cyprus (a.o. Papadakis, Bryant, Christou).
However, this research only touches certain areas of the history and many aspects of it, expressed in education, museums and myths are yet to be explored.
In this regard, the work of Rebecca Bryant is of special interest. Bryant has spent years on unraveling the real history of Cyprus and understanding the feelings that govern the memories of people here and the nationalism prevailing in the societies (Bryant, 2001). She called the Cyprus division, a Cyprus Catastrophe and has spent considerable years on understanding the nostalgia that its residents have been going through. Rebecca Bryant has managed to take first step in understanding the memories of the residents here and how the difference in genders has greatly impacted the definition of the history (Bryant, 2005).
During her work, she managed to use the writings of four different women from almost the same era of Cyprus conflict and used their writings to establish how the two states see a single event differently. Where the stories told by these women have an entirely different theme, their writing styles also present a different notion of feelings towards their land.
Furthermore, in the writings of other writers, it has been observed that official histories of the two states promulgate an entirely different set of attitude towards the memories of the past. Where the Greek Cypriots lay an emphasis on endurance of the past and remembering it the way it is, the Turkish Cypriots have an opposite attitude. Even the nostalgic level of these two histories is completely different. Where the history of Greek Cypriots focus on a desire of returning to their homelands and an expectation to find it the way it was, Turkish Cypriots show no such desire in their history. It is mainly because it is…