One of the major problems with the European Union is that it allows utterly insignificant and silly countries positions of influence, power and authority which they would in no way merit on their own, outside of the 27-member club. One such irrelevant and ridiculous country is Sweden, whose contribution to culture and civilisation down the centuries has been insignificant to the point of meaninglessness. I can only think of two Swedes – Ingmar Bergman and August Strindberg – who in any way deserve our intellectual attention or appreciation and, generally, when one thinks of Sweden one thinks of repressed, suicidal mediocrity.
Why am I mentioning Sweden? Because in the last five years Sweden has emerged as the leading advocate for Turkish membership of the EU and, as a consequence of this, one of Cyprus and Hellenism's staunchest adversaries. The reasons for Sweden's Turkophilia remain obscure to me. There have been suggestions (see this article, in Greek) that Sweden's foreign minister since 2006, Carl Bildt, has significant personal economic interests in Turkey and that he is compromised by being a personal friend and devoted acolyte of George Soros – the billionaire financier who has huge investments in Turkey and is a strong advocate of that country's EU membership; but it is also a fact that the previous Swedish government was also outspokenly pro-Turkish.
Anyway, Sweden – which, as I said, is a silly, insignificant country – now holds the rotating presidency of the EU, and in questions aimed at Bildt yesterday by members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament regarding the foreign policy priorities of the Swedish presidency, the subject of Cyprus came up. Asked by a French MEP how he viewed Turkish celebrations commemorating the invasion and occupation of an EU member-state, Bildt replied: 'The events in Cyprus have to be placed in their proper context. The Turkish intervention [sic] in Cyprus was the result of the behaviour of the Greek junta.'
No Turk could have given a better answer, right down to the use of the word 'intervention' rather than invasion.
Naturally, the government in Nicosia was outraged by the Swede's remarks – which also included a rebuke to Greek Cypriots for rejecting the Annan plan in 2004 – and has formally protested to Sweden and the EU, pointing out that in no way could the junta's coup against President Makarios justify the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, with its massacres, rapes, ethnic cleansing, settlers, cultural genocide, or excuse the fact that 35 years after the Athens-inspired putsch, a 40,000-strong Turkish occupation force remains on the island.