Wednesday, 16 February 2011
Turkey makes clear its ‘strategic interests’ on Cyprus
It’s reported here that the occupation regime in northern Cyprus is in the process of agreeing the delineation of an Exclusive Economic Zone with Turkey with a view to Turkey beginning a search off the occupied Cypriot coast for deposits of oil and natural gas.
This move – more symbolic than practical since neither the pseudo-state or Turkey have the resources or legal authority to exploit Cyprus’ natural reserves – is a response to the recent EEZ agreement Cyprus signed with Israel and the confirmation that within the year US firm Noble Energy will begin drilling to determine the extent of hydrocarbon deposits in Cyprus’ territorial waters.
These energy and economic developments in the Eastern Mediterranean are changing strategic relations in the region – particularly the burgeoning Israel-Cyprus-Greece axis – and reinforcing Turkey’s determination to keep hold of its northern Cyprus colony.
The fact that occupied Cyprus is Turkey’s colony has only just struck the Turkish Cypriots, who have been protesting the imposition by Ankara of austerity measures and the continuing influx of Turkish settlers. During a so-called ‘Communal Existence’ rally in occupied Nicosia on 28 January, some Turkish Cypriots called for Turkey to leave the island, which prompted Turkey’s prime minister Recip Tayyip Erdogan to call Turkish Cypriots ‘ungrateful parasites’, who should take note that Turkey has ‘strategic interests’ on the island.
Clearly, Turkey’s perceptions of its ‘strategic interests’ on Cyprus and Turkey’s aspirations to establish itself as the pre-eminent regional power means it will not be abandoning Cyprus any time soon and, indeed, will seek though economic and demographic means to enhance its presence in occupied Cyprus.
Of course, Turkey’s determination to keep hold of northern Cyprus has implications not only for the Republic of Cyprus, but for Greece too. Although Turkey has been trying to convince Greece to remove Cyprus from the list of issues that separates Greece and Turkey and to settle for the status quo on the island, the Greek government has not so far proved entirely compliant. On this and other matters, then, Turkey will continue to see Greece as an impediment to its ambitions in the region and, despite the superficial declarations of détente, the state of cold war between the two countries will continue.