Sunday, 4 May 2008

Turkey reveals Cyprus intentions

My perception right from the start of this latest round of Cyprus settlement negotiations has been that Turkey’s intention is to insist on the Annan plan – or its essence – and that when this is (inevitably) rejected by the Greek side, to then claim that there exists no possibility of a resolution to the Cyprus problem and that the international community must now accept the ‘realities on the island’ and formally recognise Turkey's puppet regime in occupied Cyprus, the so-called ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’.

And, indeed, given all the statements made this last two weeks by Mehmet Ali Talat – the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community – the Turkish military and Turkish government, this is what is happening. Last week, Talat was in Ankara to receive the decision of the National Security Council regarding Turkey’s Cyprus policy, after which he faithfully related it at a speech at the Eurasia Strategic Studies Centre. Talat said this was a last chance for a Cyprus solution, which he insisted must be based on recognising the existence of two states and two peoples on the island, who would create a completely new – parthenogenetic – confederal state, and on the continuation of Turkey’s guarantor status and troop presence on the island.

Turkey’s intentions in the Cyprus negotiations were confirmed by this article in the Turkish Daily News – the mouthpiece in English of Turkey’s foreign ministry – written by Serkan Demirtas, the newspaper’s chief news editor, who fleshed out what Turkey means by two states, two peoples, a ‘virgin-birth’ and so on.

‘The sine qua non parameters’ of a Cyprus solution for Turkey are, according to Demirtas: ‘Political equality based on the existence of two equal founding co-states, the continuity of the guarantor and alliance treaties that will enable keeping Turkish troops on the island… the need to keep the bi-communal nature and recognize the "realities" of the island.’

Demirtas goes on to say that Turkey also wants to secure more derogations from EU law in the proposed Turkish Cypriot component state, which would exclude Greek Cypriots from living and purchasing property in the north; and will seek to legalise the presence of all the 150,000 Turkish settlers brought to Cyprus since 1974 to change the demographic character of the island. (The Turks are even planning to bring up the utterly spurious issue of settlers from Greece in the Republic of Cyprus, ‘the fabrication’, as Demirtas puts it, of ‘many citizenships from Greece. Their status will also be on our agenda…’).

All this, of course, shows that the only solution to the Cyprus problem Turkey will countenance short of the immediate recognition of the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ is one envisioned by the Annan plan, i.e. not reunification of Cyprus, but the island’s soft partition.

Naturally, this is entirely unacceptable to the Greek side. It is predicated, like the Annan plan, on the abolition of the Republic of Cyprus, a thriving entity, a member of the European Union, recognised by all other states in the world (apart from Turkey, of course) and the creation of a new United States of Cyprus, in which the Turks will have full independence in the north and a share of power in the south and would not be a normal, democratic European country, but an apartheid state and a Turkish protectorate.


Anonymous said...


I'd have to agree with you, with regards to the Turks' intentions. I'm not sure whether Christofias has realised this or not, or if he is just talking to the Turks' to look good for the international community.

Secondly the Turks' antics just confirm Papadopoulos' policy of not talking to them was the correct one. There is nothing really to say to them, they will just carry harping on about; two eaqual states keeping Turkish troops on the island etc.

I say let the Turks' just fester in their little zone with the gansters and the fugitives. There is no rush to solve the cyprus problem, we'll just have to wait it out until a better opportunity arises.

Rgards, Michael

john akritas said...


I don't think Christofias was suffering from the illusion that Turkey would behave in any way other than how it is behaving. The illusion he was suffering from is that the Turkish Cypriots could be convinced to act independently of Turkey and that they would want to do this because, deep down, they are Cypriots who genuinely want to live in peace and harmony with the Greek Cypriots in a little socialist utopia. In fact, there is no evidence to suggest that the Turkish Cypriots are anything other than Turks, who cannot and will not release themselves from Turkey.

I agree that Christofias has succeeded in 'looking good' for the international community; but I'm not sure this will be enough when the international community in a few months time is asked by Christofias to react to the breakdown in settlement talks and to put pressure on Turkey. My suspicion is that if the international community has to choose between putting pressure on Turkey and putting pressure on Christofias; then it'll put pressure on Christofias – and we'll be back with the Annan plan.

Hermes said...

Predictable. What are the leverage points to the Turkish side? Meaning what will make them shift their position?

john akritas said...

I'm no expert on what makes the Turk tick – though history gives us a fair indication; but as for leverage points, the only one I can see is the EU and Turkey's wish to join it, or the Anglo-Americans' wish to see Turkey join it. I don't know how badly the Turks want to join – they must be aware that the possibility of them ever being in a position and then being allowed to join is remote.

Of course, it suits the AK party to get closer to the EU because this makes it harder for the army and its political cohorts to overthrow Erdogan. Christofias has put his faith in the EU to pressurise Turkey to change its Cyprus position; but, as I said, my feeling is that the EU is more likely to press our side than the Turks. As you pointed out at Legein, the Turks feel they are in a position of strength in Cyprus and that Turkey is the regional superpower, able to impose itself. Not being seen to give into Greeks, Europeans, foreigners is another factor which makes it unlikely that the Turks will shift their Cyprus position significantly.

Hermes said...

Is there a time factor here i.e. does the issue need to be solved sometime soon?

Also, what would you think if (that is a big IF) Turkey agreed to give back about 20% of the land (including important cities) and then they agreed to go their separate ways. There is nothing that says islands need to be united. Look at Hispanola. Would this be completely unacceptable?

john akritas said...

There is a major review of Turkey's EU process due next year from the European Commission, which if certain issues around Cyprus are not resolved could derail Turkey's EU accession. Something the Anglo-Americans are anxious about. From the Greek point of view, time is important because there is a fear of creeping recognition of the 'TRNC'.

As for giving us back some land – say Famagusta and Morphou – then going our separate ways, I don't like this. This is what the Turks are after, and why they've kept Famagusta a ghost town, hoping we'll take it back in exchange for agreeing to some form of partition. Personally, I don't think we should we give the Turk anything, and certainly not Kyrenia or Lapithos, founded by Praxandros from Sparta, or Karpasia, where the first Mycenaeans from Arcadia settled in Cyprus, and so on. We can't be the generation of Greeks which hands over these places to the Turk, for the sake of an easy life. No; I go along with the idea of pursuing this bizonal, bicommunal bollocks, and then gradually using our numbers, our love of the island, position in the EU and economic advantages, to take back from the Turk the whole island, which one day we will unite with Greece.

Hermes said...

Yes, I agree, But if that means the presence of Turkish troops on the island then that is a defacto annexation. What a tangle!!

Thanks England and America. And short sighted Greeks.