Mainstream opposition should beware of following ELAM

Followers of Greece’s Golden Dawn and members of far right party ELAM terrorized in South Cyprus in the previous days. Abusive and intimidating behaviors exposed by the ultra-nationalist fascists groups at the memorial service of two Greek Cypriots in Paralimni on Sunday. The Greek Cypriot Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotripis and Greek Cypriot Agriculture Minister Nikos Kuyalis attending the memorial service were also the target of the fascist groups. Greek Cypriot daily Cyprus Mail published a column about this event today.

According to the column: “People should not have been surprised by the abusive and intimidating behavior exhibited by the members of the ultra-nationalist fascists groups that attended the memorial service of two Greek Cypriots. Black-clad members of Greece’s Golden Dawn and the local ELAM hurled water bottles at the two government ministers as they entered the cemetery in Paralimni and shouted abuse at them when they were laying wreaths in honor of the two men.

There was no physical violence, but the aggressive chanting by the youths interrupted the service and led to the officiating priest to ask for decorum; men from the police’s mobile action unit also arrived. The ultra-nationalists chanted slogans such as ‘tramps, traitors, politicians’ and ‘traitor supporters of federation,’ exploiting the media presence to secure some much-needed publicity. They seized this opportunity to remind people of their existence – particularly ELAM which will have candidates in next year’s parliamentary elections – and publicize their fierce opposition to any settlement.

The positions of the fascist groups are the same as those of EDEK, DIKO, the Greens and the Alliance of Citizens, all of which are dogmatically opposed to a federal settlement. The only difference is that these parties do not openly accuse the backers of a federal settlement as traitors, but implicitly, by arguing that only their uncompromising position is patriotic and safeguards the national interests. Those who were negotiating a federal settlement and power-sharing with the Turkish Cypriots were by definition unpatriotic and, implicitly traitors.

The anti-settlement parties have not resorted to this hideous rhetoric yet, because it is too early. As talks progress and an agreement becomes a real possibility the rhetoric will be stepped up and the opposition parties will sound just like ELAM. They had no qualms about labelling supporters of the Annan plan as traitors and foreign agents in 2004 so why would they behave differently this time?

In a way, ELAM and Golden Dawn may have done society a service by chanting ‘traitors’ at the members of the government because they have highlighted the fact that such abusive terms are the ownership of extremist, neo-fascist groups that have no respect for democracy and rational argument. They do not engage in debate but terrorize those they disagree with by labelling them ‘traitors’. Hopefully this will teach the anti-settlement parties not to resort to such abusive terms in the future, because then they will be likened to the neo-fascists of ELAM and Golden Dawn.”