Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Cyprus questions

I switched on to watch Michael Martin resigning as Speaker of the House of Commons over the expenses scandal that has been gripping Britain, and unexpectedly stumbled across Foreign & Commonwealth Office Questions, the first part of which was devoted to Cyprus (see video above). Questions and answers reveal Britain's usual lies and hypocrisy, patronisingly asserting itself as a disinterested observer of the 'ancient conflict' in Cyprus and good-faith facilitator of reconciliation, when the truth is that Britain created the Cyprus problem and continues to shape it with its consistent backing for Turkey and its ambitions on the island, not least in coming up with the Annan plan.

A little background on Malcolm Rifkind, the Conservative MP and foreign secretary from 1995 to 1997, who asserts in his question to foreign secretary David Miliband that Cyprus should never have been allowed to join the EU, echoing the Turkish government's position: he is Jewish.

Another British Jewish politician hostile to Cyprus is Liberal Democrat MEP Baroness Sarah Ludford. She has been a consistent supporter of Turkey's occupation of Cyprus, frequently calling for the 'lifting of the isolation' of the Turkish Cypriots – which is code for recognition of the pseudo-state in occupied Cyprus.

Recently, Ludford spoke out against the Orams ruling: 'The technical legal correctness of this ruling may be unquestionable, based on EU measures providing for "mutual recognition" of judgments between two EU countries, in this case the Republic of Cyprus and the UK. It is also understandable that Mr Apostolides and other Greek Cypriot owners will feel that it represents justice. We must not forget however that there are many Turkish Cypriots who have been unable to reclaim property in the South [sic]. In any case it will strike many as strange that while EU law is suspended in north[ern] Cyprus due to the division of the island – so the judgment cannot be enforced there – the same EU law can be used for a backdoor enforcement of the claim in UK courts.

'The decision risks reinforcing the sense of bewilderment felt by Turkish Cypriots. They voted by 2 to 1 five years ago to accept the UN plan for reunification, a plan the Greek Cypriots rejected by 3 to 1, and they were then given an EU promise of an end to isolation. Little has been delivered to make that a reality…'

Ludford is a Member of the European Parliament, elections to which are on 4 June. She is first on the Liberal Democrat list for London and likely to get re-elected. Third on the Conservative party list in London for the European Parliament – and with a good chance of being elected – is Marina Yannakoudakis, a London-born Cypriot. Apparently, we're supposed to vote for her because she has a Cypriot background; but the truth is if she really had a Cypriot consciousness she would have nothing to do with the Conservative party, which is stuffed full of Turkophiles who have never forgiven Cyprus for humiliating the British empire in the 1950s.


Anonymous said...

Your right to highlight the the two-facedness of Britain with regards to their policy on Cyprus. Clearly demonstrated by their involvement in the Annan Plan and the abomination that was churned out.

On the other I think it is worthwhile to point out that there are a few British MP's who do seem quite sincere in their support for Cyprus. Alan Meale(Lab), Rudi Vis(Lab), Gerald Kaufman(Lab), and former MP Tom Cox(Lab)stick out. There are some particularly good videos of speeches they made to the Cyprus Lobby at Parliament to be found on Youtube.

On another note there is a program on this Friday about the recent Orams case on ITV- 'Mediterranean Nightmares'. Should be interesting.


ADV said...

Fascinating clip, which I am sure we would otherwise have missed. I'll pass it on :).

I don't suppose you enjoy the notion of "compromise" too much, but I thought the Foreign Secretary handled the questions well and, as he delivered the policy, it doesn't seem to add up to what you suggest the policy to be. I haven't counted, but it seemed as if the majority of the questions were critical of Turkey.

You've presumably heard the scurrilous rumour circulating that Cherie Blair was paid for the Orams case with property in the northern part of the island ...

Whether or not she is able to take a direct flight there will, I guess, depend on the outcome of another case, in the High Court this week in which the UK government's refusal to allow direct flights is being challenged.

Judge-made law might be preferable to law being made by the current parliamentary scallywags.

john akritas said...

Michael. You are right. There are several MPs – mostly Labour – who have good records on Cyprus, and two of them at least asked Miliband questions, i.e. Eddie O'Hara and Simon Hughes. But, of course, they do not make British policy on Cyprus and since British policy on Cyprus is against us, then we have to say that their ability to influence British policy is limited. Only last week, a new magazine, called Turkey in Europe, was launched in London with the support of 'prominent British citizens' – including Tony Blair, LIb Dem Foreign Affairs spokesman Ed Davey, Minister for Europe Caroline Flint and shadow defence secretary Liam Fox – and with the aim of 'better acquainting' Europe with Turkey.

Britain hand in glove with Turkey is the reality of British policy on Cyprus and has been for 60 years and we shouldn't kid ourselves because the odd MP here and there backs us.

I'm glad you mention Gerald Kaufman as being one of our supporters. Of course, Kaufman is Jewish, and my point in the post about Rifkind and Ludford being Jewish isn't to propagate some Jewish conspiracy theory; but to suggest that Rifkind and Ludford's support for Israel implicitly leads them to Turkophilia.

I wasn't aware of Mediterranean Nightmares. I'll look out for it.

ADV. We must have watched different clips. It was obvious to me from questions and answers that Britain's overriding foreign policy preoccupation regarding Cyprus is to make sure that the island's 'problem' is overcome so that Turkey's path to the EU is smoothed. Britain's policy is and has been for decades to curtail and deny Cypriot independence and the Annan plan was the latest example of this. I see no evidence that Britain's policy since Annan has changed; if anything, since Annan, Britain has become even more vocal in its support of Turkey's EU ambitions and, therefore, even more committed to undermining Cyprus.
As for the tone of the exchanges, it was mostly about what Britain could do to bring about reconciliation between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, i.e. what can we civilised Brits do to help these savage Cypriots become rational and reach a 'compromise', put aside their primeval conflict. What a laugh! Firstly, the conflict is not 'ancient' but actually only goes back 60 years and was created by the British – who refused to grant the island self-determination and instead armed and encouraged Turkish nationalists on the island; and, secondly, the source of Cyprus' problem is not rivalry between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, but Turkey's invasion and occupation of Cyprus, aimed at partitioning the island – an aim supported by Britain and America. A pity none of the MPs focussed on Britain's role in partitioning Cyprus. Perhaps they should read Perry Anderson's essay Divisions of Cyprus.

And, yes, I have read about the Blair rumours – I wouldn't put anything past the Blairs – nor would I put it past the High Court to find in favour of the Turks in the case of direct flights. It was the High Court that found in favour of the Orams'. I wonder, if the government loses, whether it will appeal.

Hermes said...

John, your last second last paragraph would make a good post.

A good recent speech below by Samaras which you migt like, but unsurprisingly, he declares full support for Turkey in Europe, if they fully comply....


john akritas said...

Not only is it a good speech from Samaras – Dragoumian in places – it is refreshing that such an ideological speech was made. Greece needs a vision, not someone whose raison d'être is to manage the crisis from day to day – like Karamanlis. I wonder how much Samaras really believes in Turkey's EU membership; obviously as a humble member of the government he has to toe the Karamanlis/Dora line. Regarding a new approach to Turkey, I've been reading Vasilis Markezinis' articles from To Vima and To Paron, arguing, among other things, that a conflict with Turkey is almost inevitable; that Greece should align itself more closely with Russia, that Europe should assert its Greco-Christian lineage and so on. I don't agree with all he says; but at least these things are being said.




john akritas said...

I notice, in fact, regarding my last point on the reorientation of Greek foreign policy, that Antipodes addresses some of these issues in his latest post

I share some of Apostolopoulos' skepticism regarding throwing in our lot with the Russians.

ADV said...

Your cynicism may be well placed, though you could look at it differently. Granted that there is momentum behind hopes that Turkey will join the EU, but nobody has shifted on the preconditions - and there were several fingers being pointed at the Turkish mainland in your clip. A compromise involves both sides giving way, not just one, and it is the only way to resolve a conflict, this conflict. Staying in the "blame corner" is not going to get anyone very far, especially if it serves to distract people from the real issues by focussing on a history than cannot be changed.

Compromises are very difficult and they hurt a great deal, but sometimes - whatever the history - they are the only way and we discover our humanity in them.

Your last question is certainly very pertinent and one that troubles me. I know people are working very hard and staying up very very late to make sure that the government does not lose in the first instance, but it is the judges who decide. I've spent quite a bit of time today wondering how much difference a good advocate makes.

john akritas said...

Nothing I said was cynical or based on cynicism. It is an entirely accurate and unadorned description of British policy towards Cyprus for 60 years, and more. If you don't know this, then you should find out. Again, I recommend Perry Anderson's essay.

As for your comments about 'compromise', these are fatuous, ignorant and offensive. Cyprus has been invaded, raped, occupied and now, with a gun at our heads, we are being asked to further satisfy the demands of our tormentors. And if we don't capitulate to our tormentors, if we don't give up our land and our rights to them, then we are not, according to you, compromising, which renders us incapable of humanity??? What complete and utter rubbish. Worry about the 'humanity' of Βritain's cynical policy of fostering Turkish nationalism and pursuing partition in Cyprus, rather than worrying about how Cypriots – victims of outrageous injustice and brutality – can find theirs – as if they ever lost it. What despicable impertinence and arrogance you show. How dare you suggest Cypriots need to discover their humanity, as if we are currently inhuman. In the 'humanity' stakes, you've a long way to go. Try starting with a little humility.

lastgreek said...

Ἄκου λέει... "compromise"!

And then... What's next? Forgiveness for Turkey's crimes against humanity?

No surrender, no retreat, and NO COMPROMISE.

Hermes said...

An age old diplomatic/military trick: Create a "hot issue" as the aggressor, and then call for comprimise, extracting concessions from the victim which could not have been extracted before.

Please beware Greeks!! (especially of the English, everyone knows they are the most dishonest people)

Hermes said...

John, I do not think anyone has suggested we throw in our "lot" with the Russians. Most sensible people have suggested at least making some steps towards that direction so as to at least extract concessions from the Americans. This is entirely rational.

Apostolopoulos is not skeptical about opening doors to Russia. He is only advocating that we carefully consider the costs and benefits of such an approach and be prepared, as much as possible, for different actions of the other players.

I have been reading Markezini's articles too. I agree with most of what he says. A conflict with Turkey is inevitable because Turkey is sort of like Germany before WWI i.e. it is increasingly finding its place within the world rather than closing in on itself. Invariably, it will push on its borders. If the Kurdish question moves towards some form of conflict, autonomy or even independence, Turkey may orientate its aggressive ations more towards Bulgaria/Greece as compensation. Some may argue it is already doing this.

john akritas said...

Here's the thing with 'compromise'. In 1959, Cyprus compromised its legitimate demand for enosis for a restricted and poisoned form of independence, which directly led to the Turkish invasion of the island. After the invasion, to avoid permanent partition, Cyprus decided to settle on the compromise of a bizonal, bicommunal federation. This resulted, ultimately, in the Annan plan, which outlined effectively a confederation of two independent states, i.e. permanent partition. Every 'compromise' Greeks have made over Cyprus has been a disaster, has in fact been capitulation. And yet the international community continues to ask us to compromise with Turkey, as if Turkey has any legitimate demands in Cyprus. It has none.

It's also worth pointing out Turkey's negotiating tactics are well-known: the Turks demand you make concession in the name of compromise, and then once you make that concession, they say it is not enough and they come up with more concessions/compromises they want you to make, until all their demands have been met.

No one has the right to ask Cypriots to make compromises and then accuse them of lacking humanity – of failing to see the point of view of the 'other' – if they don't. If this is not malicious, then this is bullshit. Besides, who's to say that 'humanity' doesn't emerge from defiance and resistance and a commitment to truth and justice.

And here's another point regarding foreigners – particularly of the Anglo-Saxon variety – trying to tell us what to do and how to fulfil the criterion they have established for what it is to be 'humane' or not. Seferis, on a visit in the 1950s to America, with which he was unimpressed, had this to say:

'The Americans are a people that has never suffered in its life – how can they possibly understand us, those other peoples that have suffered so much.'

john akritas said...

On reorienting our foreign policy: yes, H. you are right; it's too crude to suggest that the argument is about throwing in our lot with the Russians. On the three questions Apostolopoulos poses:

1. Whether significantly approaching Russia affects our Western alliances.
2. What can we offer Russia.
3. What do the Russians want and what can we expect from Russia in return.

I think the answer to the first question is 'not necessarily'. We – i.e. Greece and Cyprus – form a block, along with France, Germany and Italy, in the EU and NATO that is sympathetic to Russia. It is on the second and third questions where I am skeptical. What is it that we can give the Russians and what can they give us in return? I think the answer is 'not much'. I also reckon, regarding the Eastern Question, that Russia feels it can do business with Turkey. Remember, the overtures to Turkey are from America and how Turkey responds to these overtures is another matter; the Turks may well decide they can play both the Americans and Russians – which is a bad scenario for us.

Hermes said...

John, I have a more positive view on what we can offer Russia; however, it is contingent on two important developments: 1) Although the Turks control the Dardanelles, the Aegean is a continuation of this waterway which is important for the growth and security of Russia and to a lesser extent Ukraine, Bulgria and Romania. However, this strategic assets is only really effective if Greece rightly extends its territorial waters from 6 to 12 nautical miles. Effectively, this makes the Aegean a Greek lake and any foreign power must seek permission from Greece to pass through. We make a deal with Russia, you support us in extending our territorial borders and we give you right of way no questions asked. 2) A Russian base or even a communication installation on Cyprus. Of course, this require strong Greek-Greek Cypriot co-operation and perhaps upsetting some of our so-called friends.

john akritas said...

Very interesting scenarios, H. Both would require on our part courage, cunning and self-confidence. There's no signs that we're up to it at the moment, but sooner or later the penny will drop. It seems to have dropped somewhat with Obama's overtures to Turkey, which seem to have dispelled some of the wishful thinking some Greeks may have had about American diplomacy regarding our issues and interests.

It's worth reminding ourselves, regarding Cyprus, that Russian is already well entrenched on the island – economically, politically and culturally – and AKEL is effectively the 'Russian party'. It's also worth pointing out that in 2007 – under Papadopoulos and Chirac – Cyprus signed a defence agreement with France, that allowed the French to use facilities at the Andreas Papandreou military base in Paphos. This was seen as Papadopoulos challenging the British – who, of course, have two sovereign bases on Cyprus – and their perception that Cyprus is a British sphere of influence. The Turks made their usual threats about the Franco-Cypriot agreement and warned us against eventually allowing the French to build a full-scale base on the island; but I haven't heard much of our budding alliance with the French since Christofias and Sarkozy came to power. My point is that Papadopoulos – who was cunning and courageous – was not averse to trying to mess with the heads of the Turks and Anglo-Americans by bringing in other actors into the Cyprus equation. Inviting the French to Cyprus is, however, slightly less risky and controversial than inviting the Russian military to the island. And, besides, it sticks in my craw that we have to have all these foreigners and foreign interests – French, British, Russian, Turk – on our island. In an ideal world, the only military bases we would have in Cyprus would be Greek ones. The rest can go home.

Hermes said...

John, I agree completely. No foreign armies should be stationed in Greece, including the Americans. In my ideal world the Mediterenean and Black Sea should be dotted with Greek bases ala 500BC or 500 AD. However, we are not large enough to reach our own objectives without outside assistance. Perhaps we ask the Russians for special trading rights in the Black Sea or even a naval dock on their southern Black Sea coast and slowly phase out the English. The Russians were never good merchants - they should hand it over for us to take care of it for them.

lastgreek said...

Excellent post, Hermes.

Indeed, under the Law of the Seas of which Greece is a signatory (Turkey is not, btw), it has the right to extend the territorial waters of its islands to 12 miles. Unfortunately, H, every successive Greek government has failed to implement this legal right because Turkey has made it clear that any such act would be viewed as a casus belli. The Greek position, if I am not mistaken, is something along these lines: "We will not be extending the territorial waters of our Aegean islands, BUT we reserve the right to extend them if we so choose."

P.S.: Btw, have the Russians recognized FYROM as "Macedonia"? If so, what was the logic behind such a move?

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