Tuesday, 30 July 2013

‘If it were possible for Turkey to sink Cyprus, it would do so’



Above is an interview that Andreas Mavroyiannis gave to the BBC’s HARDtalk programme last November. Mavroyiannis was at the time the diplomat in charge of Cyprus’ presidency of the EU and much of the interview concerns these duties and the looming economic crisis that fully unfolded on the island a few months later.

More recently, Mavroyiannis has been appointed by President Nikos Anastasiades as the Greek Cypriots’ chief negotiator for the Cyprus problem and he will now be the person who meets and talks with the UN’s Alexander Downer and the Turkish Cypriot side. The idea of the president of Cyprus not directly representing the Greek Cypriot community in negotiations with the Turkish side goes back to Makarios and, theoretically, is supposed to reflect the fact that the president is not leader of the Greek Cypriot community but head of the Republic of Cyprus. But this isn’t why Anastasiades has made the appointment. Rather, the idea of installing a chief negotiator, agreed by the National Council (on which the leaders of all the political parties represented in parliament sit), was a concession by Anastasiades to DIKO to acquire its support for the presidential elections that Anastasiades won in February. DIKO, which had previously supported Dimitris Christofias, was outraged that in negotiations with the Turks, Christofias was deciding policy and making concessions on the hoof, without proper consultation or agreement. Concerned that this egotistical and high-handed approach to policy would be repeated by Anastasiades who, it should be remembered, had supported the Annan plan, DIKO managed to get him to agree that the president would take a back seat in settlement talks by appointing a negotiator who would be answerable to the National Council.

Anyway, none of this is particularly important and what I wanted to point out is a couple of truths regarding Turkey’s Cyprus policy that Mavroyiannis mentions in the interview. These are:

1. Turkey’s objective in UN negotiations is to arrive at a settlement that allows it to keep control of Cyprus.

2. Mavroyiannis also says that in its disputation of Cyprus’s continental shelf and Exclusive Economic Zone, Turkey is revealing that it would like to erase Cyprus from the face of the world:
‘For Turkey, if it were possible to sink Cyprus, it would have done so, because, [firstly], we provide an alternative access to the Middle East and they cannot monopolise access. Second, because we can provide an alternative corridor to Europe for oil and gas – Israel, Cyprus, Greece. And [third] because they would like Cyprus not to exist in order to divide the Mediterranean between Turkey and Egypt.’

* (Also, I’ve had a couple of complaints about comments not appearing. Just a reminder, if you leave an Anonymous comment, it is recorded as spam and is likely to be deleted. Follow instructions on comments form on how to leave a comment).

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