Thursday, 21 April 2011

Davoutoglu gets his knickers in a twist, Turks eye up Cyprus’ EEZ. But where is Greece?

According to this report, President Christofias has sent letters to the UN secretary general, the president of the European Council, the president of the European Commission and the president of the European Parliament denouncing Turkey’s ‘arrogant’ stance towards Cyprus as typified by a recent outburst from Ahmet Davoutoglu, in which Turkey’s foreign minister said it was a mistake for the EU to accept Cyprus as a member in 2004; accused Greece of blackmailing the EU to get Cyprus in; demanded the EU make a strategic choice between advancing Turkey’s EU membership talks and backing Cyprus, one of the smallest states in the union; and insisted that Turkey would never lift its veto on Cyprus in matters of defence co-operation between the EU and NATO.

Davoutoglu’s fit of temper is interesting in itself – how satisfying that our little Greek island, half of which is under Turkish occupation, can rile so badly the architect of Turkey’s aspirations to reassert the global influence of the Ottoman empire – and one hopes (but does not expect) that Turkey’s increasingly unhelpful behaviour on the world stage has not gone unnoticed by its ‘partners’ and ‘allies’; but I also want to draw attention to this further statement by Christofias regarding reports that Turkey is about to undertake ‘research’ that will ‘affect’ Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone, in response to which the president said: ‘Regarding the EEZ, the situation is being closely monitored by the Republic of Cyprus. And we are also in close touch with the EU and, of course, with Greece, because this is an issue that directly affects Greece, with whom we are co-ordinating our actions so that we can face any potential interventions and threats regarding our EEZ.’

Of course, Cyprus co-ordinating with Greece to face Turkish threats over the EEZ is correct, as is Christofias’ reminder that Turkish attempts to move in on Cyprus’ EEZ is in fact also an attempt to usurp Greece’s rights, since Greece and Cyprus share EEZ borders in the Eastern Mediterranean. But the question is when will Greece and Cyprus get round to delineating their territorial waters? Cyprus already has agreements in place with Egypt, Israel and Lebanon – but not yet with Greece. In fact, it strikes me that one of the most important things George Papandreou could do, even more important than economic reforms, is to assert Greece (and Cyprus’) sovereign rights in the Eastern Mediterranean by agreeing on our maritime borders. It’s not as if there are any disputes to resolve between Cyprus and Greece – we are, after all, the same country. All the international legal arguments are with the Greek side. Turkish belligerence would be exposed for the bluff and bluster that it is. Greek national interests would be boosted, as would the country’s severely wounded ego. I wish someone would explain to me why it has not been done.

5 comments:

Markos said...

Unjustified fear of war, maybe?

John Akritas said...

That seems a fair conclusion, M, that Greece is afraid of war. But 1. No country worth its salt can forego its sovereign rights because it fears war, otherwise it becomes a vassal state. 2. As you say, the fear is unjustified. Turkey cannot get into a shooting war with Greece and Cyprus when it has absolutely no legal case. Turkey would be annihilated in the 'court of international public opinion', have to give up its EU ambitions and so on. The Turks are not that dumb. Besides, Cyprus has agreed EEZs with Israel, Lebanon and Egypt and the Turks mouthed their usual threats and said they didn't recognise the agreements but we've carried on with the Israelis – and with the backing of the Americans – preparing to explore for gas and oil.

Paul said...

I agree with John...Cyprus has shown the courage and determination to defend its sovereign rights in the face of Turkish threats--and has succeeded in initiating and finalizing negotiations with all relevant neighbors except Greece. Greece needs to step up now more than ever, especially as Turkish warships are currently dominating the EEZ in question as part of the NATO-led operation in Libya.

John Akritas said...

Paul: reports in the Cypriot newspapers suggested today that Turkey is preparing to send exploration ships not only to areas already delineated as being part of Cyprus' EEZ but also to areas around Kastellorizo, which are theoretically in Greece's. So, these Turkish manoeuvres are not only intended to question Cyprus' sovereignty but Greece's. Why Greece won't defend its interests is beyond me. It seems suicidal.

Anonymous said...

Cyprus has not defended her sovereignty. Israeli pressure brought to bear on the bolchevik internationalist Christofias clique gave Cyprus no choice.Greece has no voice, she is as impotent as a castrated Eunuch. Greece is also fallen under Israeli sway . To think and speak of papandreu and his gangsters as Greek government is just as thinking of scrofolous rats running the Greek occupation government.The psefti helinas Papandreu should be arrested and exiled to israel. When we have a Greek nationalist government , only then we can get serious about protecting our national interest; not with the internationalist stooges we have at the moment.