As a Greek Cypriot, I found Christopher Hitchens’ ‘Détente and Destabilization: Report from Cyprus’ in nlr 94 interesting. However, I feel that the section on the Left parties is very weak, for the following main reasons.
1. On p. 64, Hitchens attacks the attitude of akel (Progressive Party of
2. It is not clear from the context in which Hitchens quotes Grivas in relation to ‘left-wing traitors’, whether he takes this assertion as being a true one. Personally, I feel that it should strongly be denied, and treated merely as a pretext for killing left-wing trade unionists and leaders. akel incidentally did not rely only on high level talks to stop the killings of its members; it organized large demonstrations and strikes in protest, which were a greater safeguard than any words of sympathy from Makarios.
3. It is a pity that Hitchens, in his eagerness to demonstrate how reformist akel is, has made a number of omissions which in fact distort the real picture. Thus, for example, he writes: ‘From 1960 onwards, the party recovered ground by absolute support for Makarios at all levels’ (p. 64). This is not true. In 1960 akel, largely from fear that Makarios was going to support the right-wing extremists, backed John Clerides in the presidential elections. The conflict between the two only really disappeared after the 1963 constitutional crisis.
4. Hitchens’ account of akel’s policies does not make clear the kind of theoretical framework within which the party operates. At its last congress, held just before the 1974 coup, it outlined its programme: it gave full support to Makarios in the anti-imperialist struggle, called for minor reforms at home, and mentioned the possibility of socialism in the future (see Information Bulletin, Prague, for the congress documents). Similarly, a glance at any issue of Haravghi would show that it consists basically of articles in support of Makarios, articles demanding reforms such as better roads and water supplies, and portrayals of how good life is in the Soviet Union. This derives from the classic two-stage programme defended by the majority of the communist movement in Cyprus since the party was founded in 1926. Numerous articles by the party leader Ezekias Papaioannou make clear that, while attacks on imperialism in general are permissible, the attack on capitalism at home is strictly a secondary issue.