Monday, October 19, 2009

Patriots are loudest when they are far from the storm

By Loucas Charalambous

A PHENOMENON very familiar to Cyprus – the super-patriotism of the overseas national – also appears have reared its head in Armenia.

Before the government of Armenia had even signed the historic agreement with Turkey, which would restore relations between the two countries and would put an end to almost a century of hostility, the Armenians of the Diaspora had begun to react.

People who live abroad always seem to be more patriotic than those living in the home country. They are usually against any idea of reconciliation, sticking to extreme positions and defiant slogans. In order to show off their own patriotic fervour, they frequently dispute that of their countrymen, who live in the homeland and whom they accuse of lacking a fighting spirit.

How does it happen that people who do not reside in the homeland appear more nationalistic and patriotic than those who live with and experience the problems?

The main reason is the absence of any risk or fear; it is inevitable that those living abroad feel much greater security as they would not be affected by an outbreak of hostilities. The person who feels secure is much more comfortable taking a hard-line nationalistic stance.

It is no coincidence that the most patriotic articles appearing in the Cyprus press are penned by Greek Cypriots who live in Greece, Britain and the US. And it is no coincidence that every year, at the conference for overseas Cypriots, the most absurd views about the Cyprus problem are heard.

The person who lives in Athens, London or Melbourne has no qualms about playing the big patriot, because he risks nothing. He knows that where he lives and the Turkish army could not reach him if a new bout of fighting broke out in Cyprus.

I do not think it would serve any purpose to mention names but a brief look at the articles published in the press is enough to show the patriotic superiority of Greek Cypriots living abroad. A Greek Cypriot, who lives in Athens and regularly wrote articles for Phileleftheros, on one occasion, suggested that we emulated the Palestinians and embarked on an intifada against the Turkish occupation army.

Did he mean that we would strap explosives on to children and women and send them to the Turkish position on the Green Line? I wrote that if he came to Cyprus and started an intifada I would follow him. Of course he chose to stay in Athens. He proposed the intifada only for us idiots living in Cyprus.

In the case of Armenia, we see that the most rabid reactions to the agreement with Turkey came from the US. From the safety of the US, these Armenians feel much more patriotic than their fellow nationals back home and have the luxury to describe the protocols signed on Sunday as “humiliating rags”.

In Cyprus, with House President Marios Garoyian as the spiritual leader, Armenians set up their own ultrapatriotic chorus before the agreements were signed, accusing Armenia’s president of something tantamount to treason. The funny thing is that a few months ago, Garoyian made a fiery speech against Turkey in Armenia’s parliament, giving deputies a lesson in patriotic values.

But it appears that they have got his number in Armenia and completely ignored his passionate patriotic views.

Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2009

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