Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Greece accused of ‘cowardice’ over delineation of EEZs

I’ve translated below an extract from an article by Michalis Ignatiou – read the whole piece in Greek here – praising the ‘daring and courage’ of President Christofias for ignoring Turkish threats and turning on their head Cyprus’ traditional suspicion of Israel and pro-Palestinian sentiments by penning a deal with Tel Aviv for the delineation of Exclusive Economic Zones between Cyprus and Israel.

Ignatiou goes on to ask the question I’m sure we’re all asking ourselves, i.e. why Greece, in the face of similar Turkish belligerence, doesn’t get on and agree its EEZs with its neighbours – including Cyprus, which now has deals with Egypt, Lebanon and Israel, but not with Greece.

Where Nicosia has shown daring, Athens has flinched
The Republic of Cyprus has dared regarding a national issue where Greece has shown cowardice. A senior diplomat in Washington revealed to me that he has concluded that the Greek government is dominated by fear and won’t make the slightest move to delineate Exclusive Economic Zones with its neighbours. I hope the diplomat’s assertion is untrue because this will mean that on top of the economic tragedy Greece is facing, it will be inviting another, perhaps even worse, tragedy.

All the experts from all over the world agree that the delineation of EEZs is an inalienable right of each country, including Greece. The current government – and the previous one, to be fair – doesn’t dare exercise this right because it is scared of Turkey. Of course, there is another question, which only the prime minister and the foreign minister can answer, which concerns the secret negotiations aimed at coming to arrangement with Turkey over the Aegean. Papandreou and Droutsas may have denied the Turkish foreign minister’s assertion that Greece and Turkey are ‘doing business’ regarding the Aegean, but reports continue to suggest that this is exactly what is happening.

Turkey’s reaction after the EEZ agreement between Israel and Cyprus was expected: threats, exertion of pressure, blackmail, war-mongering. I imagine it would do the same in the event that Greece exercised its rights. The correct answer to Turkey was given by an Israeli official, who said: ‘Turkish claims to the maritime area based on their occupation of northern Cyprus constitute “chutzpah” that is unheard of in the international arena.’

Monday, 20 December 2010

Turkey’s real European intentions

The EU Commission released last week its annual report on Turkey’s accession to the union and essentially declared that there has been no progress, i.e. no new chapters have been opened and Turkey continues to refuse to ratify and implement the Ankara Protocol regarding the access of Cypriot traffic to Turkish ports and airspace.

Interestingly, Turkey, through its own negligence or reluctance, even failed to open chapters that aren’t blocked by Cyprus and France – on trade unions, competition and on government procurement and state aid.

What all this reveals is that Turkey is not that interested in joining the EU. Its European agenda is different, which is to use its accession process to gain a voice and expand Turkish influence on the continent without Turkey having to make any of the difficult reforms and sacrifices EU membership demands.

Thus, regarding Cyprus, Turkey is trying to blackmail the EU into acquiescing to Turkey’s plans for Cyprus by insisting it will only open its ports to Cyprus if the EU grants direct trade with the pseudo-state in the north of the island, i.e. for essentially nothing in return, Turkey is pressing the EU to satisfy its 60-year-old goal of partitioning Cyprus.

It’s also clear that Turkey is now using Turkish immigrant populations in the EU to act as Trojan horses to advance Turkey’s interests in Europe. Ethnic Turkish politicians in Germany, Holland, Austria, Sweden and in Brussels are increasingly exploiting Europe’s descent into multiculturalism to argue on behalf of Turkey and frame all resistance to Turkey and Turkish policies in terms of racism and Islamophobia.

Turkey’s ultimate goal is to shape Europe’s future by establishing itself as defender of the interests of all Muslims in Europe and as such it is no surprise that Turkey continues to facilitate and promote the flow of Muslim immigration to Europe, from the Middle East, Africa, the Indian subcontinent and Afghanistan.

Israel rejects Turkish criticism of Cyprus EEZ deal

Below is a report I’ve translated into English from today’s Phileleftheros regarding the spat between Israel and Turkey over the agreement signed last week between Cyprus and Israel delimiting the Exclusive Economic Zone between the two countries. See original article in Greek here.

Israel attacks Turkey over Tel Aviv-Cyprus EEZ deal  
The Israeli government rejects Turkey’s criticism regarding the agreement over the delineation of the Exclusive Economic Zone sea boundary signed last week between Cyprus and Israel.

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said today: ‘This agreement is an issue between Israel and Cyprus and in no way affects a third country. We do not see how a third country would have anything to say about it.’

Palmor added: ‘We informed Turkey of the negotiations with Cyprus, which were conducted with complete transparency.’

Another Israeli official, this time unnamed, spoke in a less diplomatic fashion: ‘The Turks are displaying a sad cynicism by condemning the agreement with the argument that they occupy the northern part of Cyprus.’

On Thursday, the Turkish foreign ministry called in the Israeli ambassador to Ankara to protest the Israeli-Cypriot deal, which was signed the following day by Cyprus’ foreign minister Markos Kyprianou and Israel’s minister of infrastructure, Uzi Landau. The agreement is aimed at facilitating the investigation and exploration of natural gas and oil deposits in the Eastern Mediterranean region.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

The music lives on… just about


A discussion on Dalaras on this thread prompted me to check out on youtube clips from the film Ta Tragoudia tis Fotias, which is footage from a concert held just after the fall of the junta in 1974 and contains the best examples and exponents of so-called έντεχνο λαϊκό music, Theodorakis, Loizos, Markopoulos, Xylouris, Dalaras and so on. The music is a reminder of how brilliant and unique Greek culture can be, and makes you wonder where it all went wrong, how it was possible for it all to have gone so στραβά given that even in 1974 Greek culture was still capable of such highs. Maybe, the way to look at the concert and the art it captures is as representing an end point for a certain period of Greek history, politics and culture, and that despite the youth and optimism of the musicians, audience, film and concert, in fact they weren’t heralding a new chapter in Greek culture – as they must have thought – but closing an old one.

The clip above is of a couple of Yiannis Markopoulos’ songs, the first – Πόσα χρόνια δίσεκτα – sung by Nikos Xylouris and the second is Μαλαματένια λόγια, sung by Lakis Halkias, Haralambos Garganourakis and Lizetta Nikolaou. It really is difficult to understand how the generation which was stirred by this music could then have gone on to wreck Greece in the way it has. I hope this generation, which has a lot to apologise for, doesn’t feel a need to reject and apologise for this music.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Wikileaks: Chris Patten says Cyprus ‘foisted’ on EU

Dribs and drabs are coming from Wikileaks relating to Cyprus. There’s been some remarks by Chris Patten, formerly the EU’s External Relations Commissioner, made to a US official in Brussels, on 28 April 2004, shortly after Cyprus entered the EU having rejected the Annan plan. Patten was a senior Tory politician and government minister in the 1980s and 1990s and was, indeed, the last British governor of Hong Kong. He is currently the chancellor of Oxford University. His remarks regarding Cyprus and Tassos Papadopoulos are not surprising, but here they are:

Next Steps On Cyprus/Papadopolous’ Dubious Character...
3. (C) The next steps for the Commission are figuring out how to spend money in Northern Cyprus. Patten expects the EC to open an office to oversee their assistance. While there will be legal hurdles to managing the process, he was confident the Commission would find a way. Patten doubted the Greek Cypriots would openly oppose any efforts, noting that they were “on their heels” diplomatically after their blatant efforts to stifle opposing views on the referendum. This incident, Patten said, was a sad reflection on the realities of EU enlargement: Some of the new members were people you would “only want to dine with if you have a very long spoon”. Not that the EU should have been surprised by Papadopolous’ behavior, Patten said, since they knew well who they were dealing with: Milosevic's lawyer.XXXXXXXXXXXX...  
And on Turkey

4. (C) Patten noted that he was the biggest proponent in the Commission for Turkey’s admission. In his view, based on the technical merits alone, the Commission has no other option but to give a positive avis to begin accession negotiations. Still, he said the political climate in Europe is not receptive to Turkey’s candidacy. The problem, in his view, was not Chirac in France, since “he can change his policies on a whim”. Patten considered the opposition of conservative parties in Germany and Spain the most serious obstacles to Turkish admission.

On the Difference Between a Union and an Alliance
5. (C) Patten also said he felt at times the US does not fully appreciate the difference between expanding an alliance like NATO, and a Union like the EU. When a country joins an alliance, it becomes a distinct member of a group committed to a common cause – but nothing more. When countries join the EU, they become part of the whole, formally and practically indistinct in many areas of EU competence. “We have to be ready to trust their food and sanitation standards, for instance.” In this regard, he noted that some of the accession countries were foisted on the EU as part of a larger bargain. Cyprus, for instance, probably should not have been admitted (as Papadapolous’ behavior prior to the referendum indicated), but the Greeks insisted on Cypriot admission as the price of agreeing to some of the northern European candidates. Croatia, Patten said, is probably far more prepared for EU membership than either Bulgaria or Romania, who will likely enter the Union earlier. Romania, in particular, was a “feral nation.”