OP/ED Nikos Kotzias: Concerns over the Cyprus issue

OP/ED Nikos Kotzias: Concerns over the Cyprus issue

By Nikos Kotzias*

Missing a plan and a program, the government’s moves unfold while it remains trapped in everyday life strains. It speaks of “active” foreign policy, yet all it does is passively follow the choices of the powerful in the West and “react” afterwards to the provocations of others. It presents as a “new success” the malformed maintenance of bilateral and multilateral relations with partners, which the previous government had systematically developed. It abandoned a series of initiatives securing a special role and recognition to Greece; Among them that of Rhodes, with the participation of 24 states and organizations from SE Europe and the Arab world, as well as the initiative for the protection of the religious and cultural communities of the Middle East, bringing together 400 prominent figures, Foreign Ministers, church leaders and communities from the region. Even the Balkan Cross-Border Cooperation has been abandoned, as has the Budapest/Sunni initiative, a project comprising 15 EU Member States with common interests in the institutions and the future of the EU. However, the most devastating remains the fact that Cyprus has been essentially abandoned.

Cyprus has been the target of intimidation deriving mainly from Turkey, some British circles, and their supporters within the UN. Attempts are being made to drag Cyprus into informal five-part negotiations without the Crans Montana acquis. Those represent rather significant acquisitions, since in the period 2015-8, in the first time in decades, the “tradition” was overturned according to which every previous negotiation was deemed better than the next one. In Crans Montana, the core problems regarding the external aspect of the Cyprus issue had finally secured a spot on the negotiating table.

In Crans Montana, the UN Secretary General adopted the Greek position according to which Cyprus must finally become “a normal state”. A “normal” UN and EU member state, like any other member. This implies a state without “guarantors” feeling entitled to hold invasive rights in the Republic of Cyprus; without occupying troops. Unlike the UN Secretary General, his representatives within Cyprus do not defend the decisions of the Organization and act more as lawyers of the occupying force; something that the governments pursuing a fair solution to the Cyprus issue ought to reveal.

The Turkish occupying force continues to hinder the safeguarding of the freedom and democratic functioning of the Turkish-Cypriot community itself, through the presence of tens of thousands of armies and heavy artillery. The Occupation keeps its boot on the Turkish-Cypriots’ neck before any right or freedom. Turkey is increasingly abandoning pretexts. Once again, it tends to directly govern the Turkish-Cypriot community. In this effort, it is backed by a large portion of the settlers it has illegally transferred to Megalonisos. A the same time, these days it seeks to cement an atmosphere of terror upon all Cypriots and of questioning the international rights of the Republic of Cyprus; its very existence.

The intimidation repertoire is extensive. Possession of a large part of land; Violation of the maritime zones of the Republic; Self-proclamation of Turkey as the beneficiary and administrator of the rights of both the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish-Cypriot community itself; continuous violation of the UN and the UN General Assembly decisions, as witnessed recently in the Varosha issue; heralding the institutional division of Cyprus and the creation of two states on Megalonisos. This most definitely constitutes a case of systematic blackmail, as Turkey aims not at two separate states with Hellenism inside its geopolitical belly. Verily, what it seeks is to seize complete control of the island, initially through a loose (co-) federation, in order to directly and closely control the Northern part of the “confederation”, regardless of what it will be called, and impose vetoes upon the overall policy of Cyprus, especially financial policy, diplomacy and defense. In this policy, one must oppose the real interests of all the Cypriot people to live in a country without foreign rulers, as well as the friendship proposal we had submitted heading into Crans Montana.

Turkey threatens, blackmails, promotes situations of its own choosing. It acts opportunistically while Athens has practically left Megalonisos to its fate. Much like the National Radical Union in the fifties, New Democracy seeks to get rid of the Cyprus issue in any way possible, considering it to be a burden. It fails to comprehend the importance of Cyprus in terms of stability, peace and security throughout the Eastern Mediterranean, but also for Greece itself. Athens’ persisting retreat to the provocative pressure exerted by Turkey does not lead to the latter satisfying its hunger, as some believe. On the contrary, as the old proverb goes, “appetite comes with eating” for Turkey! The notion that Turkey’s revisionism, aggression, irredentism and nervousness concern only a few concessions is false. Any concession, unless it is “total”, will not alter the plans, but also the political pursuit with regard to the Cyprus issue of the ruling coalition in Turkey, with the blessings of the alt-right gray wolves.

After a year and a half under the New Democracy governance in the country, Turkey has achieved a number of goals; primarily to largely detach Cyprus from Greece. Today, unfortunately, political and diplomatic cooperation between these two EU countries is below standards, while in some other fields it is non-existent; dangerously non-existent, I fear. The convergence of an intergovernmental conference between the two states and systematic cooperation at all levels and platforms is urgently required.

Equally urgent appears to be the comprehensive, multifaceted reconnection between Greece and Cyprus; The strengthening of their alliances; An information campaign of European states and allies; Ensuring the support of permanent UN Security Council members; The influence on British policy that often directs the US attitude; The systematic fortification of the pro-Cypriot lobby in the USA, Germany, Brussels and Russia; Utilizing the European Parliament.

Bolstering cooperation with the Turkish-Cypriots themselves, who feel the boot of the Turkish occupation on their neck, is also required; Securing their rights; boosting the Cypriot morale, the people’s self-confidence and their militancy. Unless the Cypriots themselves mobilize, no one else will do it on their own./ibna

* Nikos Kotzias is an Emeritus Professor of International Relations-Foreign Policy, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Member of the PRATTO Movement and author.