The current negotiations between President Christofias and leader of the Turkish occupation regime in Cyprus, Mehmet Ali Talat, are a humiliating farce that reveal just how low Cypriot Hellenism gripped by defeatism has sunk. Take for example this article (in Greek) in the Cypriot daily Politis, which explains that the Turks will refuse to hand back the western Cypriot town of Morphou and its satellite villages – home to some 10,000 Greeks before the Turkish invasion – because of the town's economic significance – the Morphou plain is the most fertile and productive region in Cyprus – and the social costs of returning it – the fact that the up to 50,000 Turkish settlers and Turkish Cypriots dumped in Morphou and its satellite villages would have to be moved to make way for the return of the area's legitimate inhabitants.
Now, because Morphou was always expected to be returned to Greek control in any settlement – indeed, even the 2004 Annan plan envisaged its return – and because Christofias has said that there cannot be any solution without the return of Morphou to Greek control, Politis suggests that the Turkish insistence on keeping Morphou may be a bluff in order to forestall any Greek demands for the return of a portion of the Karpasia peninsular, i.e. the Turks are using Morphou as a bargaining chip to hold on to all of Karpasia. Personally, I don't think the Turks are mentally sophisticated enough to bluff and it's better to take their threats at face value; but either way we see how invidious these negotiations are, demanding as they do that Greeks decide which piece of their land – Morphou or Karpasia – will be surrendered to the Turks.
Another article in today's Politis that caught my attention referred to the increase in Russians holidaying and buying stolen Greek property in the occupied areas, particularly in the Kyrenia region. Apparently, following the European Court of Justice judgment against Linda and David Orams, British interest in Greek land and property in occupied Cyprus has ground to a halt, but interest from Russia – which is, of course, outside the EU and not affected by the ECJ ruling – has, according to Turkish Cypriot 'estate agents', jumped by 50 percent. There might not be anything to this story, and of course we shouldn't take too seriously what is said by Turkish Cypriot 'estate agents' trying to talk up the 'market'; but this does follow on from last week's visit to Turkey by Vladimir Putin presaging closer Russo-Turkish economic ties during which the Russian PM said he expects the Blue Stream gas pipeline project to pass through Turkey and northern (i.e. Turkish-occupied) Cyprus and that he wanted Russia to develop economic relations 'with both parts of Cyprus, including the Turkish part'.
Again, Putin's statements might not mean anything – the Blue Steam project is a long way off and I'd be amazed if Putin understands the intricacies of the Cyprus problem – but they do reflect how vulnerable Cyprus is to shifting strategic alliances and Turkey's increasing economic, diplomatic and political leverage.