Cyprus is about to face one of its most critical political dilemmas ever, one that could determine whether it will continue to exist as an independent sovereign state. Could Cyprus succumb to outside pressure and accept Turkey’s proposal for a two-state solution? This could change the island as we know it.
Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades’ foreign policy on dealing with Turkey’s 1974 military invasion and occupation has so far been lukewarm. Over time, the Turkish invasion has been overlooked under the delusion that the EU and others would take an active role and help Cyprus get rid of the Turkish troops, which is the main reason it joined the EU in the first place.
Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan plans to reveal a big surprise during his visit to the island later this month. He will finally expose his trump card during the 20 July celebrations of Attila’s victory over the Greeks. His message will likely send shockwaves across the globe.
Indifferent to world opinion, Mr Erdogan does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus and, as always, does what he likes. His declarations are likely to throw Cyprus into a political spin.
It has been known that shaking hands with this man one soon discovers a few fingers missing and can never be trusted. Mr Anastasiades, on the other hand, has been gullible and made a string of concessions to appease the EU, the Turkish Cypriots, including the UN. Cyprus’ foreign policy has, in fact, backfired and failed to reach reunification between the two communities. It is a known fact that one does not negotiate with bullies such as Turkey because they always come back for more and in the end, there are no fingers left!
With the exception of rhetoric, the governments of Greece and Cyprus have been unable to deal effectively with Turkey’s relentless aggression in the Aegean or the occupation of Cyprus and Cyprus’ EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone). Instead, their weak foreign policy has intensified Turkey’s belligerence.
Actually, the Anastasiades government appeared more interested on maintaining good relations with the EU and the UN rather than investing in a strong free-thinking foreign and defence policy for Cyprus. Independent think-tanks in Cyprus are non-existent in comparison to progressive nations that use them to forge successful policies and solve problems.
Ironically, the Cyprus President has often threatened to use Cyprus’s EU veto to force Turkey negotiate in good faith but has never done so until this time. At other times, he has warned that he would not participate on future UN-sponsored negotiations unless Turkey stops its provocations; but instead of following suit, he made U-turns on such threats. At the same time, he has pacified Turkish Cypriots on the basis of EU “free-movement” by reopening the crossings to facilitate foreign tourists visiting the occupied area via Larnaca airport.
Cyprus applied a wishy-washy foreign policy for years and it’s no wonder Turkey has been able to juggle the Greeks like a cat juggling a mouse in the air before the final good kill – Tuesday, 20 July, may reveal grave consequences for the island!
As a matter of urgency, Mr Erdogan dispatched Turkey’s Vice President Fuat Oktay and Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on a working visit to the so-called “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (TRNC). There they met “officials” including Turkish Cypriot community leader Ersin Tatar – Ankara’s nationalist puppet – to plan and make lavish preparations for Erdogan’s grandiose illegal visit.
It is expected that President Erdogan will announce a bombshell: (a) Varoshia/Famagusta to be declared as Turkish and not Greek, (b) declare the occupied north of Cyprus (40 per cent) an Islamic Turkish Cypriot state and protected under Erdogan’s Neo-Ottoman empire, and (c) claim that 50 per cent of Cyprus gas-reserves are owned by Turkish Cypriots. Supported by his mighty Turkish army, he would not ask but impose his own “final solution” of the Cyprus problem!
If that happens, the permanent partition and Muslimisation of the occupied northern part of the island will become irreversible – fait accompli!
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, after the EU Summit on 25 June, gave a soft slap to Turkey (instead of sanctions) and announced that the EU would “never-never” accept a “two-state” solution. She also repeated those same words on her official visit to Cyprus this week. President Anastasiades expressed his “satisfaction” with her declaration ignoring the fact that such public statements have been said many times before without substance.
Out of the ashes of political despair a sliver of hope emerged with France and the USA announcing a positive development; they made a commitment to undertake the military protection of their drilling vessels including Cyprus EEZ. In November/December of this year, drilling will start again in block 10 by the American company ExxonMobil including others; hence the Franco/American joint declaration.
That’s a significant political development for Cyprus and a direct message to Turkey that the Western Alliance can no longer tolerate Turkey’s bullying tactics as they did in the past when the Italian ENI Exploration vessel was forced to withdraw in fear of an imminent Turkish military attack against the vessel.
At the moment, everyone is anxious to see President’s Erdogan’s trump card on 20 July.
One thing is for certain: if Mr Erdogan is not stopped, there will be turbulent times ahead not only for the Republic of Cyprus but also for the entire Eastern Mediterranean! If Turkey starts to use the occupied north of Cyprus as a military and a naval base and flexing its war-mongering muscles, the region would never be the same again.
The very old cliché is truer today than ever before: nobody helps those that refuse to help themselves!