Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Turkey's guardian angel

The Guardian has made a habit of publishing articles in its Comment is Free section putting forward Turkey’s case on Cyprus and ridiculing and slurring Greek resistance to the invasion and occupation of the island. The UK newspaper has insisted that Cyprus be sacrificed for the sake of Turkey’s EU accession process, called for recognition of the occupation regime in the north and, on one occasion, even referred to the Republic of Cyprus as the ‘Greek pseudo-state in the south’.

Yesterday, it continued its campaign against Cyprus and published a piece by James Ker-Lindsay, a self-appointed Cyprus ‘specialist’, in which he argued for the de jure partition of the island, a two-state solution, i.e. the fulfilment of Turkey’s long-term ambitions for the island.
Ker-Lindsay claims his outburst was prompted by comments made last week by the clumsy, highly-strung Cypriot MEP, Marios Matsakis, who in trying to say that the Annan plan was perverse and unjust – partition with bells on it, making the Turks masters in the north and partners in the south – gave the impression that he was arguing for partition as the optimal solution for the island. (Matsakis, a forensic pathologist by training, always up for a publicity stunt, managed in 2005 to pull down a Turkish flag from a Turkish sentry post in the buffer zone – see photo).

Anyway, here’s the comment I made to Ker-Lindsay’s piece:

‘What Matsakis said was that a two-state solution was preferable to the Annan plan, because the Annan plan offered the dissolution of the Republic of Cyprus, an independent Turkish Cypriot state in the north and a Turkish and Turkish Cypriot say in the south. Matsakis was just trying to illustrate the absurdities and injustice of the Annan plan.

'As for partition – which has been British, American and Turkish policy and practice on the island for 50 years – the Greeks will resist it, as they have always resisted it, because it is preconditioned on ethnic cleansing – which is one step from genocide. A pity people are putting forward "solutions" that appease the most brutal and immoral forms of political and state conduct. I thought the kind of cynicism revealed by the author had had its day, but it seems he subscribes to the old Thucydidean addage that the "strong do as they can and the weak suffer what they must".

'I hope one day The Guardian will allow someone to put forward the case for a united, independent Cyprus, free of Turkish occupation troops and settlers, in which refugees are allowed to return to their homes and human rights more generally are the primary concern in any solution.’

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Minority rights ... isn't that what it all comes down to, respect for and protection of the minority? Plans for "enosis" understandably threatened a Muslim minority in Cyprus which risked becoming a negligible part of a country committed to homogenity and with a very poor record of minority rights protection. Are there any safeguards that can realistically ensure the protection, in a reunited Cyprus, of what would still be a minority population? Are the warring parents going to be able to sit on their hands and stay out of it? Is it ever likely that Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots would be able sit at the same table and draw a line under past resentments? If there are no realistic safeguards then partition is a forward step away from the present stalemate and legal uncertainties. I would be interested in your views. You mention respect for human rights ... you need an effective enforcement mechanism too. The European Court of Human Rights is hopelessly overloaded with a back log of 90,000 cases, so practical international supervision is unlikely. You would need a strong independent judiciary before anything else. If that can be guaranteed, the rest should follow.