Listening to: Alsarah & The Nubatones
Reading: The Ancient Civilisation of Cyprus - Karageorgis
Drinking: Afghan Tea
Just some thoughts about what is means or meant to be "Cypriot", will probably clean it up with time just had to get it all down first.
I know my home is Cyprus, but as it is with all countries with complex histories its hard to leave it at that. In the case of Cyprus in particular the question of idenity cannot be solved by simply saying "I am a Cypriot"; because the inevitable next question is "Greek or Turkish?" which in my view is the wrong way of looking at whole situation.
I will work in chronological order, to show how over time this question has been complicated over the last 10.000 years of near eastern history. In the beginning we have the original people of Cyprus who we know very little about but the dominant theory is that they were a semtic people who likely arrived from Asia Minor or Palestine.
Later in the early bronze age we see more evidence of contact with Asia Minor and Minoan Crete. By the late Bronze Age, the first Cypriot Cities began a new period of "intense contacts with the Syro-Palestine Coast". Later still we have the first Mycenaean contact as they overcame the Minoans, this is the first time Cyprus found its place as a point of contact between the Aegean and the Near East.
In the 12th and 13 centuries BC is when we see the first Greek colonisation of the island and described as "colonised and hellenised the island almost completely" but even in this time there were the Greek minority ruling class and the true cypriots (eteocypriots) "In general the Greek culture did not extinguish the Cypriote culture" The Assyrians, Phoenicians and Egyptians, also had huge influences on the culture of Cyprus while recognising its uniqueness from the east and the west.
Cyprus later fell to the Achemenid Persian Empire, according to the encyclopeadia iranica the local rulers of Cyprus welcomed Cyrus II and offered military aid to his campaigns
After the Achemenid Period was the Alexandrian Period, when a new wave of Hellenisation came as Cyprus was under the control of the Ptolymies, yet still this was an eastern form of hellenism.
The death blow to eastern culture and the beginning of history according to many who would call themselves Greek-Cypriots, was the Roman invasion, Rome destoryed distinct Greek culture in Europe and continued to destory all cultures of the east. With the introduction of Christianity and its recognition as the state religion of the Roman/Byzantine Empire all the people of the empire were roman and their religion was christianity, this is the origin of the Rum idenity but Cypriot culture is much older than the Roman period. This became the defining moment of who 'we' are.
The Arab invasions became the defining moment of who 'they' are and this cleved Cyprus away from the east. The crusades compounded this disaster as western Europeans (French & Venetians) colonised Cyprus and it became a crusader state, furthering the divide.
For the last time Cyprus fell back to the Arabs and she was at again in the east.
Finally in the 1300's AD the Turks arrived from central asia, picking up Persian culture and the islam along the way. Cypriots were familar with these things already but the attrocities committed by the Turks for the next few hundred years soured the opinion of average Cypriots of the east and to islam, they had forgotten the favourable treatment of the arabs and the thousands of years of history connecting Cyprus to the east.
From the moment of Turkish Invasion and colonisation of the 12th and 13th centuries AD a trauma was inflicted on the collective Cypriot psychology that has not yet been healed.
In 1878 Cyprus is taken over by the British, which leads me to an interesting point about how others see Cyprus (and Malta in this case). Among Cypriots there has always been the question of whether or not we are Europeans, but among Europeans it has never been a question. Europeans have never colonised another part of Europe, but by colonising Cyprus it can been seen that Europe (see Berlin Conference 1880) sees Cyprus clearly as part of the middle east as a colonial target, we never saw Europeans attempt to colonise another part of Europe. This is yet more evidence for Cyprus' eastern heritage.
In 1960 upon independence of the Republic of Cyprus was still stuck with the colonial midset, British and Even Roman and could look no further. So when we decided to count our citizens we provided only two catagories, Greek-Cypriots (Includes all Christians no matter their ethnic roots) and Turkish-Cypriots (All Muslims no matter their ethnic identity) from then on we were beholded to either Greece or Turkey, because our leaders at the time made this fateful decicion that effected out geopolitics, domestic politics, culture, and language.
In 1974 The Turks invaded again, to seize Cyprus for themselves because we defined the arguement in terms of Greek vs. Turk so I dont blame them for their action because the European Greeks would have done the same thing given the chance.
In 2004 Cyprus joined the European Union, throwing away our eastern identity complete. not because it is lost but because we defined the arguement without nuance.
So knowing all of this I choose to adopt the Cypriot of Syrian Identity, niether Greek nor Turkish who are both foreign invadors, one of which we may have more history with but still is not who we are. And I will go on to share my view in the hopes of helping Cypriots rediscover their eastern roots before it is lost to history forever. We have an opportunity today in light of the migrant crisis to welcome a new ingection of eastern culture to our coutry and see that they are us, that there is little to no difference culturally between Cypriots, Syrians, Iraqis, Lebanese or Palestinians. We would even surprise ourselves of our similarities to Afghans and Pakistanis.