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The Divisions of Cyprus

Wednesday, 20 March, 2013

“Enlargement, widely regarded as the greatest single achievement of the European Union since the end of the Cold War, an occasion for more or less unqualified self-congratulation, has left one inconspicuous thorn in the palm of Brussels. The furthest east of all the EU’s new acquisitions, even if the most prosperous and democratic, has been a tribulation to its establishment, one that neither fits the uplifting narrative of the deliverance of captive nations from Communism, nor furthers the strategic aims of Union diplomacy, indeed impedes them.”

So begins The Divisions of Cyprus by Perry Anderson, which appeared in The London Review of Books in June 2008. Given what is going on right now in the EU, this is a must-read piece, especially the parts on the perfidious role that the British played in the island’s misfortunes. Anderson’s conclusion is prophetic: “Sometimes small countries defy great powers, but it has become increasingly rare. The more likely outcome remains, in one version or another, the sentence pronounced on another Greek island: ‘The strong do what they can, the weak do what they must.'”


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