Tomatoes, eggs, rose petals and partition
By Nicos A. Rolandis
FRIDAY, July 31, 1981: Constantinos Mitsotakis, Foreign Minister of Greece, arrives in
He is accompanied by officials, his wife Marika and his daughter Dora. I receive him at
Larnaca Airport and the motorcade moves out of the VIP area. All of a sudden,
approximately 1,000 persons appear running from the fields towards the motorcade, hurling
tomatoes and eggs, mainly against our car in which Mitsotakis rides. The police intervene,
the demonstrators manage to reach the car, they hit its windows with sticks and they try
to overturn it. Mr Mitsotakis’ bodyguard, Manousos from Crete, pulls his gun and half
opens the window. Mitsotakis, very cool, stops him. I instruct my own policeman, George
Christodoulou, who is driving, to move slowly and steadily.
We managed to drive away and after we cleaned the cars, we reached the Hilton in Nicosia.
There, at the entrance of the hotel, where the hotel manager was waiting for us, Christos
Zacharakis, the Greek Ambassador hurried out of his car, joined us and in a state of shock
requested of his minister to transfer him instantly from Cyprus. Mitsotakis called on
everybody to calm down. The sad incident has gone down in history…
Tuesday April 4, 2006, 25 years later: Dora Mitsotakis Bakoyianni, Foreign Minister of
Greece, arrives in Cyprus. The bitter memories of 1981 must still be alive. The atmosphere
though is replete with rose petals, smiles and warm embraces. The sweet taste goes down in
history as well. Why the difference? Mitsotakis spoke the language of bitter truth, which
we Cypriots do not like to hear. He was blunt in his expressions but his views were
shared, through milder language, by other Greek leaders as well, including, I believe Dora
Bakoyianni. He was also supposed to have said in the past that “Cyprus is the whore of
the Mediterranean”, although the phrase was apparently uttered not by himself but by a
journalist friend of his. The description was undoubtedly very harsh, even if Cyprus in
those years had its beauty on a road show between East and West, with a definite
inclination toward the Soviets.
The tragic political game between Greek and Cypriot politicians goes deep back in time and
is reflected, in a symbolic manner, in the tomatoes, eggs and rose petals incidents. It
has been a love-hate story which was almost always characterised by lack of political
courage, a situation which eventually caused the division and the decline and fall of this
country; a country which 55 years ago had the best potentials to prosper.
A brief description of the main disputes between the Greek and the Cypriot
leaderships might be useful for the future:
1. In 1950 the Greek Cypriots overwhelmingly (96 per cent) decided by referendum
that Cyprus should be united with Greece. The prime Minister of Greece Nicolaos
Plastiras, however, declined to meet a very high level delegation from Cyprus, which
was going to hand over to him the official results of the referendum. 2. In 1953,
Makarios exercised pressure for a recourse to the United Nations. Greek Prime
Minister Papagos disagreed. As a result of new pressures a recourse was eventually
filed by Greece, which resulted in failure. 3. 1955: The EOKA struggle, during which
heroism had reached its peak. However, there was no political planning at all.
Greece had distanced itself because of disagreements. Prime Minister Papagos had
called the struggle “premature”. The consul of Greece in Cyprus, Angelos Vlahos,
referred to “blackmail by the Cypriots and to a total ignorance of international
4. 1956: The Harding Proposals which were positive for Cyprus. The advice of Prime
Minister Constantinos Karamanlis and Foreign Minister Sp. Theotokis was that we
should not reject the proposals. We were seeking improvements and we rejected the
5. 1960-63: The initial objectives of the 1955-59 struggle were not implemented. The
Republic of Cyprus was established in 1960. In 1963, however, we tried
unsuccessfully to interfere with the constitutional order through the “13 points”
of Makarios. Greece had admonished us not to do it. We did not listen. Cyprus went
down the precipice.
6. 1964-1967: Complete lack of communication between Cyprus and Greece. Prime Minister
Georgios Papandreou, irritated, writes to Makarios in February 1964: “The Greek Cypriots
decide to use force without our knowledge. We learn about your initiatives from the
7. Summer 1964: The Acheson Plan No. 2. Prime Minister Georgios Papandreou accepts it.
Makarios rejects it. Papandreou says figuratively that “a condominium was offered to us
on condition that we should accept to lease the penthouse but we rejected the proposal”.
8. 1964-65: We try to get Soviet missiles into Cyprus. Greece disagrees. The whole effort
falls apart. The missiles end up in Egypt.
9. 1974: The Greek junta in an all-out confrontation with Makarios proceeds with the coup
d’état. Makarios in his speech before the Security Council on July 19, 1974 refers to a
Greek invasion against Cyprus.
10. November 30, 1974: After the Turkish invasion, Makarios, Kyprianou and Papadopoulos
rejected an excellent opportunity for a bi-regional federation which was supported by
Greece and by Glafcos Clerides.
11. 1975: A new attempt to import Soviet missiles into Cyprus took place without the
knowledge of Greece. The Soviets eventually refused to supply them. 12. 1978:
Anglo-American-Canadian plan: Prime Minister Karamanlis and Foreign Minister G. Rallis
were in favour. Cyprus rejected it.
13. 1979-81: Continuous skirmishes between Greece and Cyprus, because Cyprus had been
drugging her feet. The opportunities of the Gobbi map (1981) and the Indicators (1983)
were lost. The eggs and tomatoes were related to the strained situation.
14. January 1985: The Consolidated Documents of Perez de Cuellar. Prime Minister
Andreas Papandreou anticipated a positive approach by us. Kyprianou rejected the
initiative in New York. Papandreou would not answer for 10 days the persistent
telephone calls of Kyprianou.
15. 1992-93: The Set of Ideas of Boutros Ghali: Greece and George Vassiliou were in
favour. The initiative was rejected in 1993.
16. 2004: Referendum for the Annan plan: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis stated
that “the positive elements outweighed the negative ones”. George Papandreou
(PASOK leader) was clearly in favour. Tassos Papadopoulos was shedding tears.
Demetris Christofias was targeting one direction but he moved to another. The plan
was demonised and rejected.
So, slowly but steadily, over a span of 55 turbulent years, the majority of the
Greek Cypriots, in accordance with a Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation recent poll,
voted that partition is the best solution. The poll also shows that the supporters
of partition have tremendously increased during the past two years. The Greek
Cypriots apparently consider (based on the mentality of the incumbent government) as
unacceptable all the plans for a united Cyprus which have been proposed so far,
because our criteria for the evaluation of these plans do not include our own
faults, omissions and sins. We are searching for a solution where no solution
So we opt for partition… We shall thus rid poet Nese Yasin of her tragic dilemma:
She wrote “My country has been divided into two parts; which part should I love?”
It appears that the answer of the average well living Cypriot, who ignores the
11,000-year history and the long-term interests of this country and who approves by
a 60 per cent margin the Papadopoulos policy on Cyprus, because apparently he
believes that this policy will lead to partition, is: “Each side should love its
own part”. Have you heard this answer, Demetris Christofias?
NICOS A. ROLANDIS
5 Tel: +357 22 353811/2, Fax:+357 22 353100, P.O. Box 21700 – 1508 Nicosia.
Holdwater: Not long ago, seduced by what may or may not
be European Union economic advantages, the Cypriot Turks voted for reunification.
The Greek Cypriots, who evidently want to remain a community removed, voted against
it. The Cypriot Turks were promised goodies if they went along with the plan, but
once they dumbly went along — the new generation unaware that the Greeks would
soon be up to their old violent tricks once gaining the upper hand— the
anti-Turkish West reneged on their promises. North Cyprus remains as estranged as
TAT'S Cyprus page
A nice wrap-up on the Cyprus story by Prof. Mahmut Ozan
Michael Cacoyannis's propagandistic stripes: Attila '74
Further: North Cyprus President
Denktas' Last Interview in Office
Pierre Oberling on Greek/Greek
Cypriot Conspiracy with the E.U.