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The Parallels Between Yogi Adityanath and Archbishop Makarios are Striking

Quick Sunday Trivia question: Who is the only other religious monk in the world – apart from Yogi Adityanath - to assume political office? Answer: Archbishop Makarios III of Cyprus in 1960. And the events in distant Cyprus from 50 years ago serve as a cautionary tale for Uttar Pradesh.

Tushar Dhara | News18.com

Updated:March 19, 2017, 4:01 PM IST
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The Parallels Between Yogi Adityanath and Archbishop Makarios are Striking
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
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Quick Sunday Trivia question: Who is the only other religious monk in the world – apart from Yogi Adityanath - to assume political office? Answer: Archbishop Makarios III of Cyprus in 1960. And the events in distant Cyprus from 50 years ago serve as a cautionary tale for Uttar Pradesh.

But first a bit, dear reader, about Cyprus. The island is located off the coast of Syria and to the south of Turkey. It is one of the top holiday destinations in the Mediterranean. But the outward calm reflects a fractured and tense past.

The two main communities on the Island are the Greek-Cypriots, comprising 77% of the island's 1.14 million population, and Turkish Cypriots, making up 18%. The island became a British colony in 1914 and finally gained independence in 1960. The event was preceded by tensions between the two ethnic communities, which plagued the country even after independence.

Michael Christodoulou Mouskos, who became Archbishop aged 37 and assumed the title Archbishop Makarios III, became the first President of Cyprus in 1960. He was not only became the official head of the Orthodox church of Cyprus but also the de facto head of the Greek-Cypriot community.

He was an enthusiastic supporter of the union of Cyprus with Greece, an idea that was popular among the Greek-Cypriots but was bitterly opposed by the Turkish-Cypriots. But after he became the head of state he quickly moved to the political centre and abandoned the idea of a union with Greece. However, he failed to convince Turkish-Cypriots that they would be safe in an independent Cyprus. His own community was skeptical about independence.

In 1963 violence broke out between the two communities, which displaced more than 25,000 Turkish-Cypriots. The tensions continued for a decade when a coup by Greek-Cypriot nationalists in 1974 precipitated an invasion of the island by Turkey. More than 150,000 Greek-Cypriots and 50,000 Turkish-Cypriots were displaced.

The United Nations brokered a ceasefire, but the island effectively remains divided into two countries: The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which controls about 36% of the territory and the Republic of Cyprus to the south, with a Greek-Cypriot majority, controls the rest. A United Nations policed 'Green Line' is the buffer zone that separates the two parts.

Of course, this is not to suggest any parallels between UP and Cyprus. The course of events after Archbishop Makarios III became President of Cyprus serve as a reminder to what could happen in identitarian issues are allowed to spiral out of control.

| Edited by: Sujit Nath
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