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Being and Belonging

A Comparative Examination of the Greek and Cypriot Orthodox Churches’ Attitudes to ‹Europeanisation› in Early 21st Century

von Georgios Trantas (Autor:in)
Dissertation 382 Seiten


This book examines and compares, from an interdisciplinary perspective of Religious Studies and International Relations, the conduct and rhetoric of the Orthodox Churches of Greece and Cyprus vis-à-vis the ‹Europeanisation› process. This study focuses on the conditionality of their «sense of belonging» in the European Union (EU) as their predisposition is dependent, in part, on their sense of «being», as well as on their perception of an ideal type of Europeanness. In this context, this book offers insights on how the Greek and Cypriot Churches, as soft power actors of domestic and European capacity, perceive Europeanness and Otherness; thereby, the compatibility of the personified Greek and Cypriot states with the EU as a post-Westphalian political-cultural entity comes into view.


  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Acknowledgements
  • Abbreviations
  • Table of Contents
  • 1 Introduction and preliminaries
  • 1.1 Introduction
  • 1.2 Object of research – the Orthodox Churches of Greece and Cyprus
  • 1.2.1 Why Them? Why Then?
  • 1.2.2 Comparability
  • 1.3 Literature review
  • 1.4 Methodological approach
  • 1.5 Theoretical background synopsis
  • 1.6 Importance of study (scientific contribution & originality)
  • 2 Europeanness – the Problématique of adherence
  • 2.1 Defining Europeanisation and the Problématique on European identity
  • 2.2 Perceptions of Europeanness – conditionality of Belonging
  • 2.2.1 The Orthodox Church of Greece
  • 2.2.2 The Orthodox Church of Cyprus
  • 2.3 Churches and their offices of representation to Brussels: functions and purposes
  • 2.3.1 The Orthodox Church of Greece
  • 2.3.2 The Orthodox Church of Cyprus
  • 3 State personification – the state through the eyes of the corresponding churches
  • 3.1 A detailed account of the theoretical framework
  • 3.2 The group-person’s articulation of Being and political culture
  • 3.2.1 The Orthodox Church of Greece
  • Being under threat
  • Heterodefinition (not being) and otherness
  • The ark of the nation’s identity and its benign mutation
  • If the (chosen) nation is Orthodox, then so must be the state
  • Church‒state relations
  • 3.2.2 The Orthodox Church of Cyprus
  • Latent, conditional ethnarchy
  • Antitheses, kinship and self-perception
  • Church‒state relations
  • Post-ethnarchic soft power
  • 4 Readjustment to the post-Westphalian era
  • 4.1 “Reverse Westphalia” and the interplay with geopolitics and culture
  • 4.2 National churches’ response to challenges and their agenda adaptation
  • 4.2.1 The Orthodox Church of Greece
  • 4.2.2 The Orthodox Church of Cyprus
  • 5 Dawn of the debt crisis and initial reactions
  • 5.1 The Protestant ethic and Homo Economicus
  • 5.2 The Orthodox Church of Greece
  • 5.3 The Orthodox Church of Cyprus
  • 6 Conclusions
  • 7 Sources and bibliography
  • 7.1 Primary sources
  • 7.2 Secondary sources
  • 7.3 Interviews
  • 7.4 Bibliography
  • Appendix
  • Questionnaire (semi-structured)
  • Transcribed interview samples
  • Series index

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1 Introduction and preliminaries

1.1 Introduction

The object of the present endeavour, as stated explicitly by the rather descriptive title, is a comparative research concerning the recent and contemporary standpoints of the Orthodox Church of Greece (OCG) and the Orthodox Church of Cyprus (OCC) respectively towards Europeanisation, which, as a top-down political-cultural convergence process, has given rise to conditionality concerning their sense of belonging in the European Union (EU), given their traditional and historically confirmed Eastern Orthodox scepticism towards the West in general, and Europe in particular; a disposition, dependent in part on their sense of being, hence their self-view and their perception of an ideal type of Europeanness. We shall proceed to argue later on in the document that both churches have fulfilled their roles as socio-political actors on many historical instances more than adequately and that, most importantly, they continue to do so, variably i.e., mainly by being vocal with their views and particularly on issues of culture, identity, even governance and national sovereignty. This inevitably affects developments in both states at a governmental and social level, as it is not completely uncommon for the aforementioned actors to ultimately influence decision-making procedures, either directly or via the laypeople. We focus our research particularly on the period starting in the year 1998 up until 2010, which is obligatory by necessity terminus ante quem for primary and secondary sources – albeit with some flexibility concerning relevant literature, which extends to July 2015. During the era in focus, monumental political changes transpired regarding Greece, Cyprus and their EU status and prospects; including intense clerical political interventionism and archbishopric enthronements in both states. Yet we will proceed to argue that the two cases are by no means identical despite their common characteristics. If anything, because of the latter, they are definitely comparable, while their crucial differences as well as similarities emanate by and large from their diverse historical, cultural and political backgrounds alike. It follows that because of the influential role the two churches play – sometimes whether they wish it or not – the outcomes of this research project are bound to be important, especially considering that no such comparative investigation has taken place to date. ← 13 | 14 →

1.2 Object of research ‒ the Orthodox Churches of Greece and Cyprus

For brevity and practicality, if we were to sum up the main research question that permeates this project in one sentence, it would be phrased this way: “How do the two Churches compare in terms of conduct and rhetoric in relation to Europeanisation and Westernisation?”, which ought to be complemented by two sub-questions, so that we may further establish a proper conceptual framework, namely: “How do the Greek and Cypriot Churches self-articulate culturally, and how is Europeanness and Otherness perceived?”, and also “What are the characteristics of the personified Greek and Cypriot state and their embedded cultures, and, how is the culture-based European equivalent of state personification – as bloc-actor – perceived by the churches of Greece and Cyprus?”.

One realises immediately then that opting to conduct a comparative research on the two aforementioned churches is neither incidental nor a choice of convenience. For, even though they do not appear as typical cases of such study, their comparison, coupled with their examination as individual instances, is expected to shine a light on unknown issues, emergent themes, and grey, understudied areas.

1.2.1 Why Them? Why Then?

Both actors have had their share of archbishopric ambivalence, scepticism and antithesis to the imitation and imposition of the Western model, during the period of interest no less. No wonder, with vested interests being at stake, given that they both enjoy their own types of special relationship with the corresponding states of Greece and Cyprus, while entrenched church‒state interdependence is mutually evident. What is more, this relationship is culturally – in Greece constitutionally too – safeguarded and upheld by the sweeping majorities of the two corresponding peoples. But legalistic and majoritarian1 approaches aside, their history alone would to a certain extent suffice to perpetuate a role that has been consolidated centuries ago. For a number of reasons, which will be fully explained in the present document, there is no doubt that these are and have been systemic institutions diachronically. ← 14 | 15 →

Hence, it follows that integration into a greater bloc-actor system, which is no other than the EU, could very well entail a lesser role for any given national church, as this applies even to Member States themselves and their shifting of powers upwards anyway. Not to mention that given the particular churches’ adherence to a static model in terms of traditionalism, institutional organisation and modus operandi, one would not be out of order to label them “change-resistant”. We should also not fail to mention that they have displayed relentless devotion to the form of national sovereignty that is currently being challenged by Europeanisation, because of which emerges among others the fear of identity erosion.

Any given society and its institutions are called upon to be self-retheorised and to reform accordingly, in concert with the prerequisites of membership to the EU, which is essentially a bloc-actor aiming in principle – fluctuations notwithstanding – to federalise, a fact that the ongoing deepening and harmonisation processes demonstrate. This necessitates a synthesis and adaptation of collectivities2 and convictions thereof, thus, collective institutional and structural personifications to converge; which in turn requires a new sense of being and belonging, whereby the issue of compatibility comes into play. By being, we are referring to the collective self-perception and self-personification; this by extension reflects on the entity of the state in the present case, while by belonging, we are referring to the compatibility between others’ personifications and self-personifications, which renders the aforementioned convergence possible. In the present case for instance, the EU is also permeated by a value system on the basis of which it is personified as an entity too. Years before the emergence of the EU as a bloc-actor, Hans Morgenthau based the definition of “culture patterns” on the occurrence rate of particular distinctive qualities and the degree to which those were valued, when compared to other nations. And according to those patterns, one could roughly determine national characters.3 This paradoxical and yet quite frequent socio-political phenomenon is no other than the personification of the state, by which one attributes moral values and behaviours to a fictitious “group-person”, an institution.4 And that is because society sees its reflection upon the state, while it simultaneously identifies with the state’s inherent values, as most of the individual behaviours owe their existence to ← 15 | 16 → pre-existing institutions and norms outside the realm of the individuals’ control, such as language, religion, morality and wealth; they do not constitute a rational, but an unconscious choice.5 In the same way, as the individual adopts the societal conscience rather than invent a unique, personal one, emerges the question of an equivalent pattern of behaviour in a society of states.6 Such is the EU. Consequently by being and belonging, we define “the perception of adherence to the social institution process as prescribed and conditioned by the latter, and to that end, the framework, requirements and provisions of collective self-articulation which formulate identity, and the extent to which this is coterminous with other analogous collective self-articulations”. This definition can be applicable to actors, agencies and structures. Of course, the passage from the nation-state to the nations-state7 – to coin yet another term if we may – i.e., a formation of an international legal entity such as the EU, eventually is deemed difficult for all, particularly for the churches of interest, which have undergone incomplete and selective modernisation processes in the first place. Evidently they do not define themselves as Western, and, what is more, they contribute to the establishment of kinships and antitheses, while in sum partake in the cultural physiognomy formulation and ultimately state personification.

As for the temporal parameter, which mainly draws from history, it has engraved its own mark on eastern Orthodoxy, and thus, centuries-old painful memories continue to have some bearing on the Greek-Orthodox psyche. To put it bluntly, grudges from the past live on. Hence, accountability for events of huge historical significance, especially traumatic ones, is attributed to the West.8 To name a few of symbolic character, the Great Schism of 1054,9 the sacking of Constantinople by the crusaders in 1204 and10 the abandonment of fellow Christians ← 16 | 17 → to the Ottoman invader, with well-known consequences. To make things worse, the privileges which the Orthodox Church enjoyed during the Ottoman occupation contributed to the perpetuation of a mutually convenient status quo and estranged East and West even further to the extent that with the passage of time, it became commonplace assertion that Europeans are inherently “Others” even nowadays in the Balkan region.11

As for the period of interest, namely the decade from 2000 to 2010, it was chosen because of political developments at an EU level with the states of Greece and Cyprus being involved or directly affected, including major events that transpired in the same period concerning the two churches as well. For instance Greece, having qualified for induction to the Eurozone in 2000, entered the single currency on 1 January 2001 and one year later had Drachmas replaced. Parenthetically, we may add that the Greek Euro (€) coins bear no Orthodox Christian symbolisms whatsoever.12 The visit of Pope John Paul II to Greece on 4–5 May 2001, the first in almost 1000 years, certainly qualifies as a noteworthy event. Also, with the best interests of the church at heart, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos (in office 1998–2008) developed an effortlessly observable affiliation to the European People’s Party (EPP), as well as inaugurated the Brussels Office of Representation of the Church of Greece to the EU in 2003, which operated already since 1998.13 In 2008, Christodoulos passed away, and Hieronymos II was elected archbishop by the Holy Synod.

Cyprus on the other hand acquired full EU membership officially on 1 May 2004. On 1 January 2008, the Cypriot Pound, a reminiscent of colonialism, was abolished and replaced by the Euro at an excellent exchange rate (0.585274 per 1.00 €), thus ushering the country into the core of the EU, the Eurogroup; Cypriot Euro (€) coins bear no Orthodox Christian symbolisms either. Meanwhile in 2006, archbishop Chrysostomos I14 (in office 1977–2006) passed away and following elections the Archbishop of Nova Justiniana and All Cyprus Chrysostomos II ← 17 | 18 → was enthroned.15 One year later, in 2007, and subsequent to the resolution of the Holy Synod of the Church of Cyprus, the Brussels Office of Representation of the Church of Cyprus to the EU was established.

Between the year 2000 and 2010, Orthodox anti-westernism was manifested from the top ranks of the Greek clerical hierarchy, by the Late Archbishop Christodoulos no less. His rhetoric was an amalgam of nationalist, traditionalist views against Europeanisation and globalisation, i.e. against the West in general; he even cautioned the public of the upcoming erosion of Hellenic culture and identity by the globalist “New World Order” and its pawn, the EU, as a pressing eschatological matter.16 In addition to this, he targeted secularism and the potential separation between church and state, as he held that the church represented the broad masses of the people, whom he generously flattered by exalting them as “chosen ones” and God’s favourites. A characteristic example of this tumultuous church‒state relationship is the “identity card crisis” of the year 2000; namely, the abolition of one’s religious conviction reference on his/her identity card, which Christodoulos opposed with every fibre of his being, albeit failed to prevent.17 Drawing in part from an anachronistic attitude, he condemned well-established ideas related to the Enlightenment and opposed modernisation as irrelevant to the domestic culture. This position is apparently at odds with his aforementioned rapprochement with Brussels; it constitutes a paradox as well as a stratagem to benefit from the EU while maintaining his public hard-line rhetoric intact at the same time. Yet, as of late, more and more voices underline that his pessimism was right on the mark concerning his worries on Europe’s future on employment, religiosity, cultural, fiscal and demographic issues, underlining his insightfulness with a mutatis mutandis prophetic hint – but not literally – via mostly populist outlets. On the other hand, archbishop Hieronymos II, who succeeded Christodoulos, has been moderate in his public discourses, yet he is known to have expressed, both his Euroscepticism and interventionist intent – within reason –, but in a subtle, diplomatic manner. Always though, he is portrayed as ← 18 | 19 → indifferent to the mundane, hence to politics, apart from philanthropic activities or issues that have a direct bearing on the church.

The Late Archbishop Chrysostomos I of Cyprus had a completely different approach. He may not have been as outspoken and assertive, nor did he address the public as frequently as Christodoulos, but he did intervene into the affairs of the state on particular occasions concerning the occupation of the northern part of the island. He was known for his patriotic fervour, all in all though he was withdrawn during the period of interest, mainly because of his poor health, which rendered him incapacitated, physically and mentally. This coincided particularly with the period when Cyprus was underway to become a full EU member and thereafter, so he could not possibly intervene in any way. On the contrary, his successor Chrysostomos II utilises the media to express his views regarding domestic and international politics regularly. Impressively enough, he has revealed his soft spot for Russia in a pan-orthodox context and his wariness of Western allies, if not his utter disappointment, even revisiting the era of non-alignment by resorting to history in order to validate his views. All things considered, the sum of Hierarchy impinges on public life and opinion frequently, even through Sunday sermons of political content.18

In a nutshell, the distinctiveness of the states and their churches, together with the vast dissimilarity of their archbishops’ idiosyncrasies, has certainly brought about fluctuations and reoriented attitudes, and in sum, it has been a decade of notable developments, significant to all implicated actors.

1.2.2 Comparability

Comparative studies between neighbouring states might not be the usual safe practice due to spillovers and overlaps between one another, yet distinct differences both at a state and at a church level render the Orthodox Church of Greece and the Orthodox Church of Cyprus legitimately comparable. After all, it is not the states that are being compared but rather two particular institutions; not to mention that location does not function as a methodological hindrance, quite the opposite in fact.

Approaching the states geographically, the observer cannot but appreciate the decentralised position of Cyprus, an island which is detached from the European continent – linked only by means of air and sea – and is actually located in close proximity to Africa, Asia Minor and the Middle East, and a cultural ← 19 | 20 → physiognomy cannot be devoid of either history or geography.19 And the Greek-Cypriot one, considering the historic background as opposed to the remoteness from Greece, is burdened with an uncomfortable disharmony. Location dictates one identity, the Cypriot, whereas history and culture dictate another, the Greek-Orthodox;20 it also worth noting that it is not uncommon for the Greek heartland to be perceived precisely as such, and to be called motherland in Cyprus. Thereby, this disconnection renders identity independent of Cypriot space, as if it were a floating notion. Evidently this disproportionate historic-geographical analogy, coupled with the distance from the rest of the European continent, generates a vacuum.

In contrast, Greece is well attached to the European continent. Being a part of the Balkan Peninsula, it is connected to a significant stretch of land which contains a complex sum of mountainous regions, lakes, rivers, as well as stable man-made links (railroad, highways, etc.) that facilitate a connection with the neighbouring states northwards and by extension to central Europe. Apart from that, identity here is entopic21 by default when a vast array of figures of memory is taken into account. At this early stage then, all things considered, the spatial parameter is definitive of a predisposition towards Europe, which differs when Greece and Cyprus are examined.

The states and their churches equally adhere to different historical backgrounds despite their common characteristics; therefore, it should be emphasised that they are by all means comparable. As stated earlier, both churches shared attitudes of wariness, even hostility towards the West, and to some extent they still do but variably, yet this emanates from different historical experiences. For instance, the form of perpetuated archbishopric ethnarchy that Cyprus experienced from the end of the Frankish and Venetian period up to the twentieth century, never occurred in Greece; on the contrary, the autocephaly acquired in 1833 by the OCG was a sign of secularisation under the Bavarian king Otto, who was imposed as a compromise between the Great Powers of the time within the bounds of their “Grand Game”.22 In contrast, Greek-Cypriots associated to ← 20 | 21 → their already since 431 autocephalous church, all forms of political, social and cultural life.23 What is more, this was solidified by the privileges provided to any Cypriot archbishop by Emperor Zeno, from year 478.24 This association lived on in the collective psyche even under British rule, when the OCC was stripped off its previous Ottoman privileges and had no official political office, duties and jurisdiction. It goes without saying that this was a cause of bitterness.

Also, while until the early twentieth century the already independent state of Greece grew in size and later affirmed its status in the world with the valuable assistance of the Great Powers, Cyprus struggled with British colonialism – the only European state to have experienced this – and acquired de jure independence as late as 1960. Yet, to further the differentiation between the Greek and Cypriot case, having been part of the Commonwealth inevitably affected Cyprus in being familiarised with the West in its own unprecedented way as far as states within Europe are concerned. Further, Archbishop Makarios III (1913–1977) had the unheard of, multifaceted role of ethnarch, archbishop (period applies to both properties 1950–1977) and president (1960–1977). Additionally, his policies of non-alignment estranged Cyprus from the West amidst the Cold War,25 while Greece was a Western loyal ally with the blessings of the church. Not to mention the illegal, according to international law and innumerable United Nations’ (UN) resolutions, Turkish invasion and occupation, followed by a forced unilateral illegal partition of the island, which led Greek-Cypriots to rally round their church, notions alien to relatively safe Greece and other post-Second World War European states. ← 21 | 22 →

1.3 Literature review

It would be fair to say that even though there is a vast array of exemplary works that examine both churches of interest from many perspectives and in an interdisciplinary way, there is a complete lack of comparative studies like the one we have undertaken, which means that any theory on the matter will have to come from this project. Although each church has been examined individually, it is mainly the OCG that was in the academic limelight in a way that bears relevance to the present concept, while literature, particularly on the OCC and especially on the period in focus, is scarce and thematically very different to our research agenda. Still, it is essential to mention the works that help shape the present contribution.

The broader relationship of the EU with religious groups, and particularly with Eastern Orthodox ones, has been given considerable attention by Lucian N. Leustean. He has dealt with the involvement of religious organisations and institutions into the mechanisms and bureaucracy of the EU, as well as their activity in decision-making centres therein, such as in Brussels and Strasbourg, which renders them acknowledged actors. Thereby, their level, modes and impact of their representations is scrutinised, particularly on further European integration and the policies thereof, when filtered through the values of national and transnational religious groups.26

With regard to Orthodoxy and modernity, or rather its inclination and potential towards modernisation, it has been pointed out that although Orthodoxy has a very vivid historical consciousness and a preoccupation with the past and its own traditions, it retains an uneasy relationship with history on the whole. As a consequence, out of the temporal distortion, it is characterised by inattentiveness when it comes to modernity.27 But Agourides has not shunned the difficult task of tackling the, Byzantine in origin, ideologeme of “chosen peoples” and its inevitable consequences on the collective psyche, surviving elements of which touch on the relations to the West no less, as he has also written extensively on church‒state relations in Greece diachronically.28 Consequently Orthodoxy lost the track of Western historical time-lapse and with it, major developments – proper game-changers – such as the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Scientific and Industrial Revolution, ← 22 | 23 → and the Enlightenment. Bishops much rather prefer the anachronistic yet comforting nostalgic gaze to the “idyllic past”, which, not surprisingly, replicates itself,29 as is predictably the traditional pattern of self-perpetuation. On the other hand, Yannaras does not hesitate to validate the well-known Huntingtonian distinction and the cultural fault lines which demarcate otherness based on religiosity. In fact he goes on to identify Greekness and Orthodoxy as one, coherent notion of identity, whereby the Frankish heterodox background – infused with the Enlightenment ideas – is ipso facto alienated, and the theory of “transfusion”, i.e. Metakenosis (Gr.: Μετακένωσις) by Adamantios Korais (1748–1833) is frowned upon as it implies cultural inferiority on behalf of the Orthodox East.30

However, moving from the rather general to the particular, there have been works with regard to the timeframe and object of our research that have provided us with more relevant material and theories. Makrides, for instance, clarifies that anti-Westernism is not solely restricted to the religious sphere but it is essentially a social, cultural and political phenomenon, ergo, to attribute it to Orthodoxy would be an oversimplification, if not naivety to neglect of an array of hard evidence which demonstrate the parallel existence of pro-European trends, such as the ongoing interecclesiastical dialogue, the well-disposed attitude of a new generation of theologians, or the representations of national churches to the EU in Brussels.31 He has also dealt with the era of archbishop Christodoulos extensively, introducing not only the “expressive interventionism” utilised in order to promote the agenda of the church, but also the frictions and conflicts that emerged therefrom, with “the interweaving of church and state in everyday life”,32 complicating the state of affairs even more.

Victor Roudometof raised the spatial issue that inevitably surfaces in light of globalisation, where de- and re-territorialisation33 are facts of life, which challenge ← 23 | 24 → the role not only of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople but also of the national churches in a shrinking world where religioscapes34 are in a state of flux;35 a concept that he revisited when he stressed the localism that characterised the Orthodox Church of Greece and its activities after 1998.36

As regards Cyprus, its church passed gradually from the ethnarchic model of Archbishop Makarios III, to a synodical one. Yet a social by-product has been a dichotomy in religious mentalities, which has been channelled towards the two ends of the ideological-political spectrum, namely expressed in the form of conservatism as opposed to more mainstream worldviews, in tune with the gradual modernisation and urbanisation in the Greek-Cypriot part of the island.37 By and large though, the period concerning the past rather than the immediate present has attracted much more attention, with research ranging from the Ottoman period up to Makarios III where the diachronically hegemonic role of the church as natural leader is investigated, e.g. by Marios Constantinou38 or Georgios Theodoulou.39 However, due to the period they focus on, they do address the era of Chrysostomos II. It should be stated though that Michael40 has gone into great depths to evaluate the role of the Cypriot church during the Ottoman era, bringing about valuable insights, which may mutatis mutandis apply to the contemporary state of affairs; the nineteenth century in particular and the problematic shift to the Westphalian System,41 i.e. the opposite of the nowadays condition, always in conjunction with the church. ← 24 | 25 →

Concerning bibliographic resources then, one will find it impossible to discover systematic comparative research material in the particular thematic area, examined from an International Relations (IR) angle; only works that examine the two cases independently and from a Religious Studies historical-theoretical perspective. What is more, it has been pointed out that

1.4 Methodological approach

In order to attain a good understanding of the object of research, a previous insight in representations of the collective church-minds in the form of knowledge, perception, worldviews, ideologies and attitudes, stemming from and directed to the micro and macro levels of each respective institution/structure, was a conditio sine qua non. Hence, we resorted to a comparative qualitative content analysis – an “umbrella term” –, essentially broken down to thematic analysis; and given that according to Patton, “any qualitative data reduction and sense-making effort that takes a volume of qualitative material and attempts to identify core consistencies and meanings”43 is categorised as qualitative content analysis, this fully qualifies as such. Whereby, at a macro level, it had a direct reference to the structures, i.e. churches of interest, followed by a qualitative field research at a micro level, where carefully selected persons were interviewed; with the major entities analysed here and therefore deemed units of analysis, being the Orthodox Church of Greece and its counterpart, the Orthodox Church of Cyprus. The combination of primary resources comprising pre-existing raw data from an array of carefully selected sources on the one hand, and interviews from three particular types of informants on the other, which basically means approaching the unit of analysis from both a macro- and a micro-level perspective, has contributed significantly in terms of validity, functioning in fact as methodological triangulation. ← 25 | 26 →

Right from the outset, the aim was to accurately define the attitudes concerning Europeanisation and Westernisation that permeate the two churches, compare them and shed light on potential exchanges between them regarding their overall viewpoints and conduct. A major concern was not only “what?”, but also “why and how?” meaning: Why do they assume their rhetoric and conduct, and, are there similarities? What patterns emerge and how do they compare? Do they overlap? Are there any trade-offs between them or do they function completely autonomously? Where do those patterns stem from: culture, theology, history, all of the above, none? What are the effects of discourse being exercised via means of mass communication and information?

It is self-evident that an extensive literature review was initially conducted. The resources that have been utilised comprise not only academic bibliographical sources, analyses and theories concerning the object and timeframe of research here, but also historical accounts concerning both states and churches, distanced from original events that transpired during the period of interest. Those partly constitute the background and explanatory framework that was employed as a means of interpretation, against which the analytical evaluation took place, in order to explain why and where patterns emanate from; whereas qualitative content analysis helped identify, capture and determine them.

Our primary resources generally comprise interviews, news footage, broadcasts, speeches, official records, newspaper reports, in general evidence and raw data produced in the period of interest, indicative of values, norms, ideologies, priorities, in order to capture the existing churches’ positions of the time. This raw data was drawn from a spectrum of resources comprising broadly appealing media and theme-specific web-based portals, archives and databases. The key areas of interest have been the means of justification and lines of reasoning of the units of analysis, which entails a systematic examination of their standpoints’ public manifestation using communication and broadcast mediums as a vehicle. The particular primary and secondary resources utilised were narrowed down to the following, after we examined which ones would be the most reliable, accurate and representative: Ekklesia (Gr.: Εκκλησία), i.e. the official monthly bulletin of the Orthodox Church of Greece was the main source of information. The complementary resources via which it was rendered possible to verify the acquired information were: Kathimerini (Gr.: Καθημερινή) a highly esteemed Greek daily newspaper with a steadily broad readership; the official website of the Orthodox Church of Greece;44 and the official website of the Representation of the ← 26 | 27 → Church of Greece to the EU.45 As for the Cypriot case, the resources examined are equivalent to the aforementioned, specifically: our main resource was Apostolos Varnavas (Gr.: Απόστολος Βαρνάβας), i.e, the official monthly bulletin of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus; while the complementary ones were Phileleftheros (Gr.: Φιλελεύθερος), the Greek-Cypriot daily newspaper with the highest circulation; Simerini (Gr.: Σημερινή) the second most popular Greek-Cypriot daily newspaper. The reason for opting to examine two Cypriot newspapers instead of one is that we have no day-to-day empirical contact with events in the island like we did with Greece. Further, the official website of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus and the official website of the Representation of the Church of Cyprus to the EU were utilised.46 Those have been referenced and cited using the Oxford system in accordance with the Modern Humanities Research Association (MHRA) Style Guide, edition of 2013. According to this, normally all bibliographic information is included in full in the first instance within the footnotes – somewhat different to their listing in the bibliography and resources section –, only to be shortened when a reference is reused thereafter. However, due to the bulk of resources being referenced frequently just once, we have taken the liberty to apply the abridged reference version extensively for reasons of homogeneity and economy of footnote space, which would otherwise be exceedingly extended; we thus reserved the fully detailed references for the bibliography section exclusively. Also, loc. cit. and op. cit. are not used because this citation method considers them too vague.

The empirical phase of the qualitative field research was carried out via in-depth semi-structured interviews and the sample was prominent figures of public life and decision/policy-making, opinion leaders who express their views and/or engage in discourses within the predefined thematic framework. They were semi-structured, in order to allow open, flexible discussions to take place and remove the interview aura with a set of techniques that are dependent on social skills, charisma and compatibility. We opted to gather data from informants of particular background because understanding and analysing their views entails a reference to ones’ structure adherence. In both societies, it is customary to view as such, the priest, the politician and the scholar. Hence, the people interviewed were coming strictly from corresponding sectors: church hierarchy, ← 27 | 28 → academia and government. All three groupings partake in the cultural physiognomy formulation and are essentially opinion leaders. The sample may actually be a source of normativity, but so is the EU, i.e., a normative power. Furthermore, the sample’s relevance rests on the fact that the church is not an exo-social institution; on the contrary, it pursues an active role as an actor, but not without some form of legitimacy. More to the point, the informants of choice were expected to come from fully relevant positions and offices, while in many cases, they have a say and complement each other in the eyes of their societies by unwritten, traditional, customary law – known as ethimiko dikaio (Gr.: εθιμικό δίκαιο); not to mention that this triptych of authority figures is often seen as societal refuge, variably of course.47 The likelihood of the sample being biased is minimal if existent at all, given that informants are coming from the whole breadth of the socio-cultural and political spectrum, hence the triptych, which provides validity. Direct thematic relationship to the units of analysis necessitates members of the clergy being interviewed. Apart from that, all academics are related to the topic, and politicians have either directly or indirectly been involved due to their office and in any case constitute a form of linkage themselves within both an institutional and a social framework. Therefore, they were treated as such and called upon to express their views.

However, it should be emphasised that anonymity has been preserved at all times. Confidentiality secured a degree of trust whereby discussions took place in a rather relaxed manner that allowed room for revelations that could have, most probably, not been disclosed otherwise. Yet, they have been recorded, archived and remain in possession of the author; hence, there is proof when necessary, provided of course that anonymity remains safeguarded by any enquirer too, and guaranteed in written. It entails of course that elite interviews do not come in bulk, but the methodologically required number of fifteen has been exceeded by one. It is self-evident that the settings were located in Greece and Cyprus with state capitals, Athens and Nicosia at the epicentre, but also Brussels, Bonn, London and Canterbury, where academics, high-ranking clerics and state officials are to be found.

It should be made clear that the analysis concentrated on emergent themes and not on physical linguistic units. Therefore, instances of themes represent expressions of ideas and views, which in turn produced descriptions or typologies. Analysis then has been purely qualitative, whereby no statistical occurrence rates ← 28 | 29 → ought to be expected and reflexivity is methodologically inherent. Via the qualitative content analysis, broken down to thematic analysis, raw data was translated into categories or themes, which emerged inductively by inference and interpretation. That is, by means of inductive reasoning, ultimately an open-ended process, themes and categories came gradually to light from the body of data. And as stated earlier, this approach was applied on material drawn from communication and broadcast mediums, as well as interviews’ texts. At the same time of course, literature resources containing theories and material referring to our object of research contributed in identifying emergent themes but with limited consequences on the inductive nature of the overall approach. The thematic areas that surfaced via analysis provided a framework for dividing categories into chapters accordingly, along with their subcategories, which were integrated coherently under the broader main groupings as subchapters. Finally, it should be noted that all material that has been utilised in one way or another (websites, recordings, transcripts, etc.), has been copied, stored and archived, being thus available for access and verification.

1.5 Theoretical background synopsis

It logically follows that the theoretical framework is thematically linked to the corresponding chapters that were generated as described above, and it is clearly permeated by interdisciplinarity, as is the case with our research project anyway. In other words, the theories being utilised and even challenged when required are ranging from religious and cultural studies to international policy and diplomacy, thus allowing particular emergent themes to be dealt with via the appropriate theoretical tools.

For instance, in the second chapter, the notion of Europeanness and the process of Europeanisation are seen primarily through the lens of the so-called English School of International Relations (ESIR), where theorists such as Barry Buzan,48 Martin Wight49 and Hedley Bull50 are taken into consideration in order to examine the EU beyond the utilitarian level of interest-driven cooperation, focusing more on the potentially overlapping value systems, cultural traits and ideas which function as connecting tissue of an international society. But apart from ← 29 | 30 → that, neo-functionalist approaches such as those of Radaelli51 and Featherstone52 are utilised to define the EU as a structure and its exigencies thereof. The constructivist key elements on the construction of identity and citizenship as viewed by Dell’ Olio53 are taken into account, whereas Vergara54 provides valuable views on the essence and foundations of Europeanness.

Then in chapter three, Edward Hallett Carr55 and his theory of state personification from the perspective of IR plays a key role in exploring this phenomenon, particularly through the lens of the churches in focus. It should be pointed out that this too is fully compatible with the aforementioned IR theorists and the English School. But Cornelius Castoriadis56 is also employed as a means of understanding the mechanisms of being, i.e., the notion as a by-product of religiosity among others, in order to further explain how the group-person and its sense of belonging is perceived, in particular within the context of a society of states as seen earlier.

In the fourth chapter, the phenomenon of “Reverse Westphalia” as described by Valaskakis, delineates the framework within which the European order of things is modified in the form of nation-state relativisation, with geocultural consequences among others; hence, from Mackinder57 to Spykman58 and Davutoğlu,59 we establish the importance of the rimland where Greece and Cyprus are located and evaluate the dynamics of this particular region, so that we may examine how the churches of interest perceive and conduct themselves in light of this framework as soft power actors. Beyer60 provides the necessary background in terms of reflexivity and variability of identity construction, the sense of belonging in relation to religious convictions and spatial sacred symbolisms in the era of globalisation; regarding the same notions, Roudometof61 is also taken ← 30 | 31 → into consideration, especially as far as church organisations and their stance towards this phenomenon is concerned. Additionally, the theoretical input of Leontis62 helps mark out the importance and meaning of space via the inextricable connection between topos and logos as parameters of entopia, i.e., location and narrative as factors of spatial fulfilment.

As regards the debt crisis period that is being dealt with in the fifth chapter, the initial attitude of both churches is evaluated by means of the Weberian63 approach that links Protestantism and capitalism, which is the paradigmatic socioeconomic model in the West in general and Europe in particular, as opposed to Greece and Cyprus. Poggi64 provides a “real-world” hermeneutic, which essentially puts this value systems’ application in perspective. The opposite, i.e., the collectivist heritage that has co-determined mentalities and hence courses of action, is described by Hirschon,65 who essentially delves into the works of Yannaras in order to argue on the contemporary Greek-Orthodox particularities and make a distinction between the individual and the person. Those constitute a value system based on kinship and ascribed relationships which have by extension socioeconomic effects, applicable to both Greece and Cyprus, the churches of which are directly linked to this issue by definition. We also deal with the challenges that the Homo Economicus faces amidst the debt crisis in Daniel Cohen’s view,66 while Colin Crouch67 and his views on Post-Democracy are also utilised as a means of critique to the EU, especially considering that his points frequently resemble those of the Orthodox Church of Greece throughout the past decade and its Cypriot counterpart as of more recent.


ISBN (Hardcover)
2018 (Oktober)
Greek Orthodoxy Orthodox Church of Greece Orthodox Church of Cyprus Cultural Diplomacy International Relations
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2018. 381 pp., 5 fig. col., 1 fig. b/w

Biographische Angaben

Georgios Trantas (Autor:in)

Georgios Trantas specialises in Religion, Politics and Cultural Diplomacy in Southeastern Europe. He has earned his Ph.D at the University of Erfurt where he has also been a pre-doctoral and post-doctoral Fellow. His academic interests also include migration and the formation of religioscapes.


Titel: Being and Belonging