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The Borken Olive Branch

I have almost finished reading the two volume work of Harry Anastasiou The Broken Olive Branch. I will provide a summary in a few posts time (the next one to follow will be Tariq Modood’s Multiculturalism: a Civic Idea)

In the meantime, here’s a pretty accurate description of nationalist psychology in Cyprus.

Nationalists rarely use the law in the spirit of the law. They simply usurp it as a dead letter into which they import an alien spirit, namely the belligerent nationalist spirit. In essence, nationalists scarcely view themselves as being under the law. To the degree that they operate within its framework, they do so solely for tactical reasons, never for substantive or principled reasons. They see themselves as fundamentally positioned outside of it precisely because, in nationalism, the value of “the nation” is above the law — a position that extends to the nationalist concept of national sovereignty. Although nationalists find it prudent in times of calm not to violate the law overtly, they nevertheless readily usurp it and its institutions in the interest of their ethnocentric objectives, which lie outside its spirit and intent (vol. 2, p. 169).

I really recommend the two books. Whilst I don’t share Anastasiou’s optimism, his analysis of the political events leading to the Annan Plan is spot on. Additionally, his account of the role that nationalists played in Cyprus and abroad is illuminating. What I found particularly interesting is his the treatment of europeanisation as incompatible with nationalism. I am not sure that I completely agree, especially after David Cameron’s latest stunt, but it is definitely useful food for thought. All in all, everyone interested in Cypriot politics ought to read the two books, since they are a useful framework of interpretation of the not-so-distant political events that took place in the island.

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