21) An International Relations Debacle: The UN Secretary-General’s Mission of Good Offices in Cyprus 1999-2004, by Claire Palley
22) Disaccord on Cyprus: The UN Plan and after, by Clement Dodd
23) Everything is about Cyprus, by Hasan Erçakica
I know it’s now December, but there are still a bunch of books I read last month which I haven’t listed here. Though in fact, of these three books on Cyprus I have read only two; I record Claire Palley’s heavy, lavishly-illustrated tome as one of those books I am never going to finish. It is rabidly partisan towards the Greek Cypriots, complete with juvenile captions making fun of their opponents in the many photographs, and I found the tone pretty unbearable; I couldn’t get past the first chapter. Fortunately I didn’t pay for it; it was given by the Greek Cypriot government to a friend of mine who couldn’t wait to unload it onto me. The only reason I was interested in it was that one of my co-panellists back in March taunted me for not having read it, and I wanted to correct any lapse I might have made; but I think I have made a reasonable effort.
The only merit of Clement Dodd’s pamphlet is that is is much shorter, only 52 pages, but equally tediously partisan from the other direction; Denktash and the old Turkish policy were the only sensible approach, and the Turkish Cypriots’ recent shift in favour of the UN proposals a mistake. Apparently, the Turks have never done any wrong, and all that is now needed is for the Greek Cypriots to withdraw their claims of sovereignty over the TRNC.
Hasan Erçakica’s book was sent to me by the Turkish Cypriots; he is now the spokesman of the Turkish Cypriot President, Mehmet Ali Talat, but this book is a collection of his newspaper columns from July last year to May this year (when he got his new job). All fairly sane if brief exposes of the official line, though I have a couple of points of disagreement (for instance, the assessment of one particular senior UN official seemed rather paranoid to me). Certainly more digestible than either of the other two.
As I’ve said before, the most entertaining read about Cyprus is the weekly “Tales from the Coffeeshop” column in the Cyprus Mail. Great quote from this week: “Nobody expects journalists at Simerini and Machi to check their facts, because it is against the general ethos of the papers and to do so is cause for dismissal – neither paper allows facts to get in the way of a solid rabble-rousing story. But you would assume that the hacks possessed the minimum intelligence required to realise that a playground row between two 12-year-olds, even if it involved spitting on a cross, does not amount to a hysteria-stirring story, let alone to a threat against Hellenism or Christianity.”