Greek Cypriot Nationalism of the 21st Century: How Did the Far-Right Rhetoric Affect It?


In recent years, ‘nationalism’ has been increasing especially among the European countries. This rise of nationalism has been accompanied with the increasing political strength of far-right parties. Some of these far-right and nationalist political movements found their place in power. The effects of the global economic crisis, the increasing refugee problem, and islamophobia are some of the factors that trigger both the extreme right and the idea of ​​nationalism. As a result of several events, Europeans began to support far-right parties and their populist-nationalist policies. Some of these events are; fragility in economy, distrust towards political structures, increasing immigration waves from the Middle East, the terrorist attacks in EU capitals, and the September 11 attacks. Along with those European countries, Cyprus is one of the cases that have seen increase in support for far-right political parties and far-right ideas. Far-right and nationalist political formations such as ELAM have greatly increased its strength and influence on Cypriot political arena. In general, this study will analyse the history of Greek nationalism in Cyprus, as well as the roots of nationalism that have evolved with the rise of ELAM. The first part of the study depicts general information and presents a literature review on nationalism and ethnic conflict. On the next section, the foundations of Greek Cypriot Nationalism will be described where the reader will be informed about the political environment of the Republic of Cyprus. Overall, the article tries to answer the question of how the ELAM has affected and changed the understanding of classical nationalism today.

Keywords: Nationalism, Greek-Nationalism, Far-right Parties, ELAM, Cyprus


Unlike the ideological polarization during the Cold War Period, the rising nationalism after the independence demands of the former colonial countries differed from the effects of September 11 and the Arab Spring. It is possible to talk about a newly emerged "nationalist-based" polarization that has risen especially in Europe in recent years. Reasons for increasing nationalism in Cyprus show parallelism with those in Europe. In addition to abovementioned effects, the internal and foreign policy of the Republic of Cyprus has also triggered this increase in nationalism. The Cyprus problem, which itself is a national problem, and the problems with Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean are among the issues that directly affect the rise of nationalism in the Republic of Cyprus. ELAM (National Popular Front) members also emphasized in their statements that a more nationalist (Hellenic-Orthodox) attitude should be adopted to overcome the problems both in domestic and foreign policies of Cyprus.

The far-right parties have generally approached the problems with an anti-immigrant attitude based on their nationality. The refugee problem and discourses that illegally arriving asylum seekers should be sent back to their countries as soon as possible shows us how the current problems have been transformed into nationalist rhetoric. We can identify similarities on the approach for refugee problem and Cyprus problem of the ELAM. Main discourse of the ELAM on Cyprus problem is that ‘Turkey is an invader and they should leave the island’. This particular approach shuts the door for dialogue on any political issues for different perspectives. ELAM has constructed its political framework on nationalistic discourses which in turn has greatly increased its support among the citizens where we can identify that traditional Greek Cypriot nationalism has been evolving with ELAM.

This study will discuss the concepts related to nationalism. These concepts will form the necessary theoretical background for the whole study. In addition, while the study discusses classical nationalism theories, general discussions will also be mentioned. Then, in general, Greek Cypriot nationalism will be analyzed. Subsequently, the basic symbols and reference points of Greek Nationalism will be explained. Finally, Hellenic nationalism, which has evolved with the discourse and the ideas of the ELAM, will be explained by deeply analysing ELAM through their discourses on the issues such as identity, anti-immigration, and the Cyprus Problem. ELAM appears to be taking the same approach as Italian far-right politician Matteo Salvini and French far-right politician Marine Le Pen. To increase its support, it focuses on combating immigration and corruption.

This study argues that nationalism is a critical concept of the radical right. Rydgren (2004) argues in his study that the "mainframe" of the far-right populist party is a combination of ethno-nationalist xenophobia and anti-political order populism. According to Kohn (2008), since the understanding of nationalism of far-right parties is ethnically based, ethnic nationalism is the intellectual savior of the radical right, its daily politics, and its other sacred, along with Christianity.

Nationalism and ethnic conflicts

As this study focuses on Greek Cypriot nationalism and its roots, the concept of Nationalism in the European sense will be examined. Even though there is a major agreement among academia that nationalism is a modern concept, pro-nationalist people and politicians conceptualize their arguments on the framework that nations are historical concepts which cannot be changed. Those discourses have paved the way for creating strong commitment for such concepts as one’s place of birth or tradition which in turn increases the influence of nationalistic perspective among citizens.

It is important to stress out the fact that Greek nationalism has developed against Turkish nationalism. In addition to Turkish threat which perceived as an enemy, Greek nationalism has also developed against British in Cyprus, which have been perceived as a colonialist in Cyprus. It can be argued that these factors were more than enough for Greek nationalism to develop. Establishment of Republic of Cyprus in 1960 and conflicts of interest among two different ethnicities in the Republic, Greek, and Turkish, reproduced nationalism as well (Bozkurt & Trimikliniotis, 2014). When the national revolution in Greece has had initiated on 1821, Greek nationalism among Christian population in Cyprus have started to spread.

Greek Cypriot nationalism is a concept that has to be studied on its own as well. It can be argued that Greek Cypriot nationalism has developed regionally as a fact of interaction with Greek and Turkish nationalism. While cultures are politicized within a certain piece of land, it is seen that politics turns into a set of political principles that determine national borders with nationalism. The widespread debate in the literature is shaped in two cases: Firstly, there was the debate whether the emergence of nations was in the pre-modern or modern period. It is generally accepted that nations are phenomena that emerged with modernism. In the studies on the structure of pre-modern societies, it has been seen that the existing nations are more different (Kellas, 1991).

The main ideological debate about nationalism concerns the question of when it had first been emerged. While researchers from modernism school answer this question through the establishment of nation-states, another thought is that they existed long before. Another debate that questions nationalism revolves around the effects of the symbols and emotions that are caused by the nationalism. According to Hobsbawm (1991), the first nationalist ideas, emotions, and symbols in any community seem to be effective only when mobilized by modernity and the modern state. Antony Smith (1991), on the other hand, draws attention to the context of nation and ethnicity while defining nations. According to him, nations themselves are based on pre-national ethnic identity and certain affiliations (Hobsbawm, 1991).

Another important debate on nationalism and nations is that what the definition of the concept is. While Gellner (1985) saw nations as a reflection of the Industrial Age, Anderson (2006) classified nations as fictitious societies where ties are designed by imagination. Hobsbawm, on the other hand, defined nationalism as a tradition invented by nation-state cadres. Smith (1991) argues that, unlike the modernist school, national identities are the historical continuation of ethnic identities.

Chatterjee, on the other hand, deals with the emergence of nations from a different perspective. According to him, the responsibility for the high level of ethnic nationalism in the former colonial societies is attributed to the West. The colonial state was dividing the colonized peoples on ethnic grounds. The people under the colony, on the other hand, are distant from the other ethnic group during the colonial period, and from the multicultural state after becoming independent (Kıralp, 2015). Chatterjee states that as colonial societies met with nationalism through the West, they understood nationalism as domination of foreigners.

Nationalism appears in politics in two ways: constitutional and ethnic nationalism. While constitutional nationalism is seen without discrimination based on citizenship in the West, ethnic nationalism is seen in eastern and former colonial societies. Heywood (2019) stated that the former colonial-type societies were subjected to the test of a democratic state based on power-sharing with the support of the West, but this failed in examples such as Congo, Nigeria, and Cyprus (Kıralp, 2015)

In fact, among the communities that has had lived under the Ottoman Empire rule, the Orthodox-Hellenic society had initially affected by concepts such as modernity, nation, nationalism, and enlightenment. The most important event that has affected the Greek nationalization process was the French Revolution. Greek intellectuals and merchants can be identified as the driving force of bringing the ideas (Kızılyürek, 2016). Of course, the leaders of the period were also important in the development process of those particular ideas. Makarios defended the union of Cyprus with Greece as a religious necessity based on religious and ethnic nationalism. Makarios was the leader of the Greek nationalist movement in Cyprus during the time that Republic of Cyprus has been established. He preferred to create a situation that fits his own beliefs and political views. While Makarios was the religious and political leader of the Greeks, Grivas was the military leader who led the illegal armed organizations of the Greeks.

There were also ethnic conflicts in Cyprus. These ethnic conflicts were later exposed to external interventions, which is another feature of ethnic conflicts. Nations need an enemy to create solidarity among its citizens. This is the reason why Greek nationalism in Cyprus developed naturally: enemy of Turks and the colonial United Kingdom. Homeland nationalism also affected Greek Cypriot nationalism for a long time. However, in the process, this turned into an inward-looking Republic of Cyprus nationalism.

Foundations of GREEK Cypriot nationalism

The Greek Cypriot desire to unite with Greece did not appear out of nowhere. Rather its roots go back to the 19th and 20th centuries. It started with religious influences at the beginning which then turned into nationalism. When the Greek state was formed in 1830, the ENOSIS ideal emerged. The Ottomans were very tolerant of the Greeks. In the 19th century, joint Christian and Muslim uprisings broke out due to economic reasons. The Church of Cyprus was strengthened by the rights granted to it by the Ottomans. In 1814 there was an uprising in Cyprus. In this period, there was no ethnic identity in the Greek State established in Greece. The enlightenment period of the Greeks did not appear immediately, either. This situation continued until the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913 (Kızılyürek, 2016).

Following the island's transfer of governance to the United Kingdom, the concept of Enosis began to form within the Greek Cypriot community. One of the reasons for this was that the British administration tried to abolish the privileges provided by the Church, which had a very powerful place in the society, during the Ottoman period.

As the relationship between the middle class and business class in Cyprus with Greece developed, the parameters were instrumental in the Greek nation's acquisition of identity. Freedom was very important to them. Nationalism in Cyprus also has its unique character. The middle class advanced in a right line with Greece in terms of culture and consciousness. The fact that the colonists did not hear out the Cypriots, idea of struggling against the colonialists has spread. Michaelis claims that the Church of Cyprus which was established 2000 years ago had an ideology where they pursued their ideas during the Ottoman period where this institution became the largest unit in Cyprus. Michaelis emphasized that, from a religious point of view, religion also showed its importance in Cyprus during the Ottoman Empire where the empire had a regional character (Kızılyürek, 2016).

The role of leaders whom pursued nationalistic ideas are undeniable. Historical background can be identified better during the time that nationalism in Cyprus reached its peak. Greek Cypriots are the first community to develop as classes in Cyprus. Elements such as perception, class distinction, ideology, or political party began to be discussed long before. It can be argued that Orthodox Church in Cyprus holds a great power and leaders whom pursued nationalistic ideas had held positions or been trained in that particular Church. Archbishop Makarios, who would later become the President of the Republic originated from the ranks of the Church where the Church originated leaders tried to organize the society to pursue the idea of Enosis through adding religious nationalism with an Athens-centred understanding (Yorgancıoğlu & Kıralp, 2019).

The Enosis ideal was created by various segments and groups of the Greek Cypriot community where the ideal successfully united many institutions together regardless of their minor disputes. During the World War II, there were some ideas among the Greek society that differed from Makarios' ideas. Regardless of minor differences, it should not be forgotten that Makarios pursued to motivate his motherland to realize his main ideal. Greek and Greek Cypriot society have had always tried to make Cyprus problem the main political agenda both in domestic politics and also in world politics.

Institutional development of Greek Cypriot nationalism is another point that should be taken into a consideration as it has been developed through institutions such as the Church, Political Parties, and right-wing organizations against the colonial administration of Great Britain. The revival of the Enosis movement before World War II was as a result of the reaction against the colonial administration where it caused the development of Greek Cypriot nationalism (Mavratsas, 2000).

Pachoulides (2007), on the other hand, stated that nationalism in Cyprus turned into a political movement when the subject of Nation-Nationalism was talked about and that national identity was not an independent way of thinking. National identity can only emerge with a symbol where this may reveal a different political paradigm. Pachoulides argued that even the left-wing was influenced by nationalism at that time; "The majority in Cyprus is Greek, they should determine the future of Cyprus" where this discourse led colonialist British to get into closer relations with Greece, thereby strengthening nationalism in Cyprus. He emphasized that moderate and extremist sections were formed in Cyprus. Samani et al. (2011) mentioned how Turkish Cypriot Muslim elites reacted to the Enosisist and nationalist tendencies of Greek Cypriots. He stated that the political discussions started among two communities in Cyprus and outcomes were being achieved when there were economic issues however, when Enosis demands were initiated by the Greek Cypriot community, the Muslim members acted together with the British colonial leaders. Muslim community have stated that the Christians’ (Orthodox) request for Enosis should be withdrawn and that if the British withdrew from the island, it would be appropriate to give the island to its former legal owner.

According to Kızılyürek (2012), in Gellner's words, the problem in Cyprus have initiated when discourses such as "We are the national subject whom has the legitimacy of politics in Cyprus that is why we are the sovereign and minorities have no self-determination" came into the political arena. He also stated that the general opinion among Greek Cypriots was that Turkish Cypriots did not have a sovereign right and that the partition thesis is more inculcated by the policies of British administrators. It was also emphasized that "the Turkish deep state and TMT kept the society under pressure, where the approach of Greek Cypriots will be saviour of Turkish Cypriots from those belittlements’’.

Greek Cypriot pursue of Enosis has begun when the Great Britain took over the island. After the Treaty of Lausanne, two factions came to the fore in Greek Cypriot politics, namely the Enosisists and the autonomists within the British Empire, which would gradually become ineffective. It should be noted that when the administration of the island was took over by the Great Britain, the Greek Orthodox Church Archdiocese (especially tax collection) started to lose its authority. In addition to that, British colonial administration blamed the Greek Cypriot Orthodox Church for the Revolt of 1931 which further increased the hostility between British and Greek Cypriot community (Yiangou, 2020).

One of the first problems between the colonial administration and the Greek Cypriot Orthodox Church was the event of the death of Archbishop in 1937 where his office was not filled which affected the tensions among the two parties. Greek Cypriots saw an opportunity when Greece took part in the World War 2 where if allied won the war, they could demand Enosis (Yiangou, 2020) however this desire was not fulfilled. Greek government's indecisiveness, and the new conditions maintained that the island somehow would remain under the British rule until 1960. During that time, EOKA, a Greek Cypriot nationalist organization, was established. Britain, which pursued support in NATO, initially cooperated with Turkish Cypriot political elites and then turned a blind eye to the establishment of Turkish Cypriot nationalist organizations. It was precisely the beginning of a process in which Greek Cypriot nationalism would reach its zenith (Samani et al., 2011).

The policies and ideas of the leaders on nationalism are important. Politically, one of the most important figures of Greek Cypriot nationalism is Makarios. Makarios initially mentioned on strong unity with Athens where the basic principle of this belief was Enosis. Later, he drew a leader profile centered on the political will of the Greek Cypriots. Makarios tried to weave a nationalism that wanted to make the Turkish Cypriots partner in their struggle for independence where he identified that Enosis is not possible (Kıralp, 2015).

Struggles led British colonial administration to divide the island ethnically and manage it more easily, gaining an ally within the island (Turkish Cypriots), and finally making a new ally (Turkey) within NATO. This move by British made both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots unsettled where it led to more division among the two societies since the establishment of Republic of Cyprus. Inter-communal conflicts took place between 1960- 1974 where Greek junta and Greek Cypriot nationalists attempted a coup against the government which led Makarios to leave the country. When Makarios returned, there was a completely different Cyprus: The Island was divided into two and 42% of it was Turkish territory where Greek Cypriots remained under the control of the Republic of Cyprus. After the separation of the island, the Greek Cypriot political structure and the dominant idea of Enosis have begun to evolve (Kıralp, 2015).

Political environment in the Republic of Cyprus

Two main tendencies dominate the current Greek Cypriot political arena. One of the tendencies is Greek nationalism, led by Grivas in the past, which aims to act jointly with the Greek governments under all circumstances, by prioritizing organic ties with Greece. Another tendency is the Greek Cypriot nationalism, which opposes the involvement of Greece in the affairs of the Greek Cypriots (Loizides, 2007).

The strongest representative of Greek nationalism until the establishment of ELAM has been the right-wing party DISY (The Democratic Rally). The party frequently expresses the Greek identity of the Greek Cypriots and follows the changes in the Greek Cypriot policy by adapting it to its political line. The two strongest parties of Greek Cypriot Nationalism are DIKO (Democratic Party) on the nationalist-right and EDEK (Movement of Social Democracy) on the nationalist-left. Both parties pursue political tradition of Makarios which is based on Greek Cypriot Nationalism where they always act jointly and there is no difference among them about the Cyprus Problem (Katsoruides, 2013).

In a study conducted, it was seen that the majority of voters who voted for ELAM had previously voted for DISI. In the same study, the index of trust in political institutions and central parties was low (Katsourides & Pachita, 2021).

However, DISI's position as an important actor of Greek Cypriot nationalism was interrupted during the Annan Plan period. Far-right political parties made intense criticisms during the yes campaign to DISI's Annan Plan. In the post-1974 negotiation process, Makarios and Greek nationalists determined their red line as reunifying the island, sending back the Turkish Army and Turkish citizens who came to the island after 1974, and canceling the guarantor rights of Turkey, Greece, and England. The party was subjected to intense criticism as they were the only major political party that made a ‘yes’ campaign to the solution process. The far-right group, which started its activities as a branch of the Golden Dawn Party, currently banned in Greece, became a political party in 2008 and formed the ELAM. As a result of these developments, major circles in DISI intensively moved to the ranks of ELAM.

Both communities in Republic of Cyprus did not drop their aims for Enosis and Taksim. The executive branch was blocked due to the incompatibility of the Turkish and Greek ministers in the government. Makarios wanted to eliminate this blockage and attempted to do so, ending as unsuccessful attempts. Following, a constitutional amendment proposal was presented by him which did not coincide with the political interests of the Turkish Cypriots where the Turkish ministers resigned from the cabinet, and the political crisis was followed by bloody conflicts initiated by EOKA in Makarios' knowledge (Druşotis, 2005).

After the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus, two types of Greek Cypriot nationalism have developed in practice and in theory:

1-The first type of nationalism indicates that the island should be integrated into Greece as it is weakening day by day,

2- The second type maintains that Greece should not intervene to Cyprus.

Second type of nationalism that have been mentioned above has been shaped as an ideology emphasizing that Greek Cypriots’ should defend their interests. There are practical reasons for the formation of a second thought. Firstly, Turkish Cypriots are no longer practical partners of the Republic of Cyprus. As an internationally recognized Republic, the Greek Cypriot upper class, who benefited from the opportunities of the state thanks to its Commonwealth membership, trade, and bureaucracy, wanted to maintain their independence by maximizing their existing rights day by day rather than being a sub-government of Greece (Kızılyürek, 2016).

As Annan Plan Referendum came to agenda of Cypriots, which envisioned a bi-communal and bi-zonal solution, Papadopoulos, known for his anti-federation and unitary-state ideal, claimed that the plan would abolish the Republic of Cyprus and leave the Greeks politically unclaimed. Requesting from UN Security Council an assurance that the Annan Plan would be implemented, AKEL seized an opportunity to legitimize its rejection of the Annan Plan when this assurance was not given and used this opportunity by directing its vote "no" in the referendum. Taking a look at the history, it can be identified that AKEL supported the Vasiliu-Denktas talks and DISI took the step to be in favour of the negotiation processes when they decided to support the Annan Plan. However, two political parties, namely, EDEK and DIKO objected to all negotiation texts from 1977 until the Annan Plan. ELAM, which started its activities in the south of Cyprus as a branch of Greek far-right Golden Dawn has placed itself among the political parties that oppose any kind of negotiation. Subsequently, when AKEL had the highest rate of votes it can be identified that ELAM had started to get stronger day by day (Kıralp, 2015).

ELAM can be defined as an ideologically ultra-nationalist organization or extreme right-wing group. It aims to create a homogeneous society and believes that non-native elements should be excluded from the state. This concept, along with nationalism, is seen as a threat by former colonial-type countries (Philippou.2020)

According to ELAM, while the number of asylum seekers in Cyprus has far exceeded the number stipulated by the European Union (EU), the exact number of ‘illegal’ immigrants arriving from Turkey and the other types of ‘illegal’ migration cannot be calculated. Regarding the issue of refugees, it is criticized by ELAM that eight thousand foreigners whose political asylum requests were rejected by the Republic of Cyprus, are allowed to wander all around Cyprus instead of being deported where they receive allowances from the government and create ‘’ghetto’’ neighbourhoods. Finally, the head of Elam stated that Greek Cypriots are in danger of becoming a minority in their own country (Ε.ΛΑ.Μ., 2021).

How has ELAM changed traditional nationalism?

ELAM, which stands for National Popular Front and is a branch of Golden Dawn from Greece, initiated its activities in 2004, during the Annan Plan period where it became a political party in 2008. ELAM can be identified as a populist and ultra-nationalist movement. ELAM's Party program consists of a line against federation in Cyprus, zero tolerance for illegal immigration, and an active and aggressive policy within the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus. In 2008, due to a related article in the laws of the Republic of Cyprus (the law which prevents the establishment of parties operating in another country with the same name and logo), it gained its legal status with the name ELAM. Since the initial elections that they have participated in, they have been gaining more power in politics by doubling their vote rates in almost every election (Katsourides, 2013).

It is known that far-right parties are nationalist structures. In particular, they changed the Hellenic nationalism in Cyprus, which was traditionally misunderstood by the Turkish Cypriots. Enosis is not even brought up by Elam for various reasons. Although there are historical reasons for this, the party emphasizes a Hellenic-Orthodox type of state (Kıralp, 2018; Kızılyürek 2016).

The Hellenic-Orthodox ideology established by ELAM includes:

1- The Hellenic-Orthodox synthesis finds a place for itself in the general policies of the party.

2-Party organizes aid campaigns for citizens. Of course, the target population here is the citizen who are Helens.

3-The general criticism they put forward against the European Union is that the European Union is moving away from the Christian Union point.

4- The main criticism about the economy is that governments’ are expending too much economic assistance for non-Christian and non- Hellenic people.

4- This Hellenic-Orthodox identity emerges with nationalist ideology in the context of the national question. In addition to that, ELAM accuses the EU for making concessions against Turkey (ΕΛΑΜ,2021).

The Greek Cypriot Nationalist stance distinguishes the party from its European counterparts in the following ways. The symbols used by party fanatics were figures from Cyprus' Greek Nationalist history, rather than universal fascist flags such as Adolf Hitler or the swastika. Besides EOKA they generally use figures of the EOKA-B organization supported by the Greek Junta Administration. While pictures of Greek Flags, Grivas, Nikos Sampson, and some murdered EOKA members are frequently seen, particular attention is paid not to use symbols related to the Golden Dawn, especially after the violent acts and convictions of the far-right Golden Dawn (Baider,2017).

ELAM mentions that the two big parties DISI and AKEL, and generally all other parties, are not politically contaminated where they have moved away from their Hellenic identity, whom too makes frequent concessions for Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots. While Turkey has been seen as an illegal occupier of the island since 1974, most of the Turkish Cypriots are seen as traitors who have helped them (Philippou, 2020).

For national question, their approach is different from the other Greek- Cypriot political parties where they desire to end negotiations related to the Cyprus issue. ELAM pursues to end the European Union's aid to Turkish Cypriots and Turkey, to immediately put a stop the natural gas exploration activities of Turkey within the exclusive economic zone, and to send back the people that settled in the island.

The nationalist approach of ELAM differs from the classical nationalist approach of historical far-right organizations in Cyprus. ELAM indicates that Megali Idea or Enosis in classical Greek nationalism would not find much response in the current politics. ELAM is developing a new nationalist approach through their new Orthodox- Helen identity, having an anti-immigration perspective which advocates for the bonding with Greek people instead of Greek Cypriot nationalism whom identifies that advantages of existing state is more advantageous than integration to a new borders of another state. Especially after the Golden Dawn organization was banned in Greece, the party does not use the symbols of Golden Dawn.


The study which investigates the historical Greek Cypriot nationalism and the effects of the extreme right on this ideology has an historical perspective from various aspects. It covers an ideology and a history where Hellenic nationalism first emerged from the Greek lands, perhaps to the country where it was strongest.

The reason that particular approach is strong in Cyprus is the availability of a suitable environment. A colonial England, Turkish Cypriots as an enemy and the political conditions paved the way for strong nationalist ideas in Cyprus.

The conditions, such as historical role of the Church and the backgrounds of a leader that shaped ethnic and religious nationalism are different.

In 2022, Cyprus is still divided. The USSR collapsed long before, and the bipolar World was replaced with a multi-polar one. Today's conditions have brought nationalist solutions to new problems along with the rising far-right parties. In addition, political instability in the Middle East, economic crisis, and civil wars triggered a new refugee problem. ELAM, which similarly handles the refugee problem same as the far-right political parties in Europe, took the Cyprus Helen nationalism as a historical legacy and the party has blended it with the national problem which created a new type of nationalism in the 21st century.

21st century Hellenic Nationalism in Cyprus is nationalism that aims to use the opportunities of the Republic of Cyprus and is far from ideas such as Megali Idea and Enosis. While this nationalism seeks that the relations with Greece continues while it is not being in favour of the previous style of unification. Here, the closure of borders due to far-right party policies, termination of federation talks, tensions in the Mediterranean geography are still seen and most probably will be seen in the future.

As a result of the population resettling policies of Turkey to the island after 1974 due to the national problem in Cyprus, far-right rhetoric turned into an anti-immigrant and anti-Turkish structure. As of the current situation, ELAM created a way of thinking that does not support the idea of the federation to be discussed in any way.

Along with the far-right ELAM, 21st-century nationalism has taken an anti-refugee, anti-solution, anti-treaty stance which pursues a state of Hellenic-Orthodox state. This can be identified as current Greek Cypriot nationalism. ELAM supports welfare chauvinism, making it clear that the benefits are only available to Greek Cypriots. We can argue that ELAM has an anti-Islamist, anti-multicultural, and anti-immigration activist perspective. ELAM also opposes Turkish involvement in the Cyprus issue. The far-right party is transforming into a softer, less forceful version of Golden Dawn and focuses on combating immigration and corruption to increase its support among the society.

Official historiography is an important factor for states trying to become a nation. It can be seen that a Hellenic-Orthodox identity was synthesized by creating a historical continuity in the Ancient Greek and Byzantine Empire at the time of the mentioned symbols. This formulation continues to exist even though it has evolved in a period when ELAM and the extreme right are on the rise. While the idea of Megali-Idea was active in the process of strengthening the national identity, the identity narrative which has been Hellenic for a long time has been effective in the eyes of the public.

Far-right populism and nationalism in Cyprus, at least until now and to a large extent, can often be perceived as a response to the crisis of traditional politics, low legitimacy of established institutions, and a cause of weak leadership. The intergenerational evolution of nationalistic perspective can be interpreted as a message of innovation and change against various systemic problems. ELAM uses a full-blown strategy of populism and nationalism to engage in the eyes of public. ELAM combines the issues of economic and cultural resentment by creating external enemies. Those so-called external enemies include Turkey, EU, immigrants, or citizens of other countries where ELAM argues that these enemies are responsible for people's misery. In addition to these, ELAM combined current nationalistic trends in world with Cyprus-based, populist path (Katsourides & Pachita, 2021).

The emergence of Turkish nationalism is seen as the process of creating a nation from a state, Ottomans, which is similar to the emergence of Greek nationalism where these two concepts have had been a clash in Cyprus for years. Both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots depend on their homelands rather than creating a strong independent states. Both of these communities established themselves as an organic part of Turkish and Hellenic civilizations, and these two poles are used to be in clash with each other. Historically, the development of Greek nationalism in Cyprus began long before the development of its counterpart. Turkish nationalism in Cyprus developed as a nationalism against its counterpart as well. Therefore, in parallel with the arguments and development of Hellenic nationalism, it has become a political desire to unite with Turkey with similar cultural arguments. While the rise of extreme Right Parties harms the phenomenon of globalization and the European Union in general, it poses a problem for the Cyprus Problem in particular, and for this geography.

The Greek nationalism of Cyprus takes the nationalism that ignited in the British colonial period to a different point with the ELAM today. A policy combined with anti-immigration nationalism, one of the main concepts of far-right parties, finds support in current political arena. ELAM has been building a type of nationalism with a Hellenic-Orthodox identity by combining an anti-Turkey and anti-Islamist approach which is similar to the far-right approach around the globe. We can identify that, there is a strong chance ELAM’s policy and public support will undermine peace talks along the Eastern Mediterranean area.


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30 November 2022

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Kurtcebe, B. (2022). Greek Cypriot Nationalism of the 21st Century: How Did the Far-Right Rhetoric Affect It?. In M. T. Özsağlam (Ed.), Politics, Economy, Security Issues Hidden Under the Carpet of Mediterranean, vol -. (pp. 92-108). European Publisher.