Progressives in Cyprus denounce government funding for ‘Grivas Museum’

The center-right government in Cyprus has decided to allocate funds to build a museum to honor the notorious Greek-Cypriot paramilitary leader Georgios Grivas

November 09, 2022 by Peoples Dispatch
A defaced statue of Georgios Grivas. Photo:

Leftists and other progressive sections in the Republic of Cyprus have denounced the center-right government led by President Nicos Anastasiades for supporting the creation of the ‘Grivas Museum’ to honor Georgios Grivas, leader of the notorious Greek-Cypriot paramilitary organization Ethniki Organosis Kyprion Agoniston (EOKA). Last week, leftist forces including the Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL), United Democratic Youth Organisation (EDON), Pancyprian Peace Council (PSE), and others opposed the Democratic Rally (DISY)-led government’s approval of funds for the creation of Grivas Museum. The Cypriot working class has accused the government of succumbing to the demands of the far-right, Greek-Cypriot ultra-nationalists like the National Popular Front (ELAM) in order to garner their support for the upcoming presidential elections.

According to a report in Haravgi on November 6, with the votes of the Democratic Party (DIKO) and the social democratic EDEK, the Parliamentary Finance Committee agreed to earmark funds in the 2023 state budget for the Grivas Museum at the behest of the government. Earlier, such a proposal from the government was blocked by AKEL with the support of parties including DIKO and EDEK in the parliament. AKEL has now accused DIKO and EDEK of political opportunism.

Georgios Grivas aka Digenis was a Cypriot general in the Greek Army during World War II, and fought alongside the British and Greek monarchist forces against the communists in the Greek civil war. After retiring from the Greek Army following an unsuccessful bid to enter Greek politics, Grivas returned to Cyprus in 1954 and formed the notorious Greek-Cypriot paramilitary organization EOKA and initially cooperated with other movements who fought to liberate Cyprus from British colonialism. Eventually, Grivas launched a subversive campaign in the islands by attacking Turkish Cypriots, communists, and republican groups in order to unite Cyprus with Greece. After the independence of Cyprus in 1960, Grivas was involved in the killing of Turkish Cypriots during the violent ethnic conflicts in Cyprus in 1964 and later in the 1970s. He organized EOKA B and tried to overthrow the Cypriot government led by President Archbishop Makarios. 

After Grivas’ death in January 1974, EOKA B fell under the direct control of the military junta in Greece, which orchestrated a coup and ousted Makarios in July 1974 and installed a puppet regime in Cyprus led by Nikos Sampson. In reaction to this coup instigated by the Greek junta, Turkey invaded Cyprus in July 1974, taking control of the Northern region and eventually establishing the de facto Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in 1983. EOKA B was also found involved in the massacres of Turkish-Cypriots in the villages of Maratha, Santalaris, Aloda, Tochni, and Kiti, among others, in August 1974.

Elias Demetrious, member of the central committee of AKEL, told Peoples Dispatch on November 7 that “erecting a museum of Grivas in Cyprus could be compared to an erection of a monument of Hitler in Germany or a monument of Junta leaders in Greece. Grivas has been responsible not only for the bloodshed against the communists in 1958, but was the one who undermined the Republic of Cyprus in its first steps after its independence. Also the one responsible for crimes against the Turkish Cypriot community; who formed the paramilitary group EOKA B aimed at the overthrow of President Makarios and eventually executed the coup d’etat that gave the opportunity to Turkey to invade and occupy 37% of the island even today.”

The Pancyprian Peace Council stated, “Georgios Grivas is identified with political violence and is responsible for the deaths of dozens of progressive innocent people, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. Creating a museum in his name constitutes a forgery of History, a challenge to the memory of our people and cannot be accepted.”

EDON alleged that “the falsification of history itself and historical events over time was a well-designed operation of the Democratic Rally (DISY) but also of its far-right reserve, a role now played by the National Popular Front (ELAM). That is why it does not surprise us, the fact that at the last session of the Finance Committee, the DISY government made sure, for the third time, to promote a fund for the creation of a museum ‘of shame’ for Grivas.”