Friday, 31 January 2014

The collapse of neo-Ottomanism



Above is a good talk given earlier this month at a conference in Cyprus by Israeli academic Anat Lapidot on the origins and collapse of Turkey’s geopolitical strategy – more correctly the AKP government’s neo-Ottoman foreign policy. 

Lapidot argues that Russia and Iran have scuppered Turkey’s ambitions in the Caucuses and Central Asia, the EU has subverted neo-Ottomanism in the Balkans, while the repercussions of the so-called Arab Spring have undermined Turkey’s hopes in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East. Lapidot doesn’t say this explicitly but she implies that Turkey’s occupation of northern Cyprus is one of the last cards it holds to help it project its influence in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The conference at which Lapidot spoke was organised by the Citizens’ Alliance party and you can watch the talk of its leader, Giorgos Lillikas, who was foreign minister during Tassos Papadopoulos’ presidency, (in Greek) here. Lillikas is glib, but he makes a good point about it being in Israel’s interests to shore up Hellenism in Cyprus and avoid a Cyprus solution, like the one envisaged by the Annan plan, which would decisively put the island in Turkey’s sphere of influence and result in Israel being completely surrounded by hostile countries.

39 comments:

Hermes said...

John, what is your take on the joint statement by Cyprus and the occupied north?

John Akritas said...

H. I think it's just a piece of paper at the moment, not worth getting too excited about one way or another, even if it's definitely not what Anastasiades intended when he started the process of a joint statement and so must be regarded as a spectacular failure from this point of view.

I'm waiting to see what comes of these new negotiations – if anything – before passing judgement, especially as to whether all this amounts to a new version of the Annan plan.

Hermes said...

The high level elements of the joint statement i.e. bizonal bicommuncal, one international personality, equal communal representation etc, are not a surprise or am I missing something?

The equal representatin of the communities at a Federal level is interesting? What does this mean?

John Akritas said...

I don’t think anyone knows what all this will mean in practice until the details are negotiated. The joint declaration is deliberately vague and open to interpretation – based on the notion of ‘constructive ambiguities’ – in order to give something to both sides. Anastasiades set out to remove these constructive ambiguities from any joint declaration, so the fact that the statement is riddled with them must be considered a failure.

Critics of the joint declaration have concentrated on the question of how sovereignty can be single if it emanates from both Greek and Turkish Cypriots; how citizenship will emerge – from the federal government or from the constituent states; and whether a United Cyprus is a continuation of the Republic of Cyprus or will be a parthenogenetic state.

John Akritas said...

In a federal system like Australia, how does citizenship work? Are you a citizen of New South Wales/Vicotria/etc as well as an Australian citizen or does being from New South Wales/Victoria have no meaning in terms of how your citizenship is determined?

Hermes said...

In Australia, you are a citizen of Australia not its constituent states. As far as I know, state identity has no meaning unless you are resident in that state; and are therefore, subject to certain different tax regimes (not income and sales tax), recipient of different health and education systems etc. However, this is not really relevant to Cyprus is it? There is no New South Wales ethnic identity that differs from the Queensland one.

I am more interested in how power will be distributed at the federal level because this is where we have potentially much to lose, and where our desire to avoid partition, might lead us to negotiate a lot of power way. I think I have seen somewhere they have envisioned a system like Australia or the US, where there will be a House of Representatives where each locality will have a representative regardless of ethnicity and then there will be a second house which will have equal representation from each community (rather than state like Australia). Your thoughts?

John Akritas said...

This is the problem. There is no blueprint for how federations work, the relationship between the federal and local states are constantly evolving. Certainly, from our point of view, we are prepared to give up powers to the Turks that you describe – on health, education, tax, etc - but will resist anything that suggests a separate international personality. But having these local powers is not enough for the Turks, who want the trappings of a nation-state.

Our side is prepared to cede a lot of power to the two constituent states – which our side prefers to describe as πολιτείες or κρατίδια (in the German sense of Lander) – and Anastasiades has spoken of a ‘loose federation’ in order to avoid conflict and bottlenecks at the federal level. On the legislature, as I understand it, there will be a Senate (where there will be equal representation from the constituent states) and a House of Representatives, where representation will be 4-1, i.e. based on total ethnic make up of the island, 80% Greek, 20% Turk.

Stavros Lygeros has a piece in Phileleftheros today, giving the view of those who say Anastasiades has signed up to a document leading inexorably to another Annan plan:

http://www.philenews.com/el-gr/f-me-apopsi-eponymes-gnomes/385/184760/xanaserviroun-to-schedio-anan

While these two short documents have been released by the Cyprus government, giving the legal opinions they sought on sovereignty, citizenship and parthenogenesis in the Joint Declaration and which, Anastasiades claims, excludes the Annan plan and allowed him to accept the deal on offer.

1. https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sigmalive.com%2Ffiles%2Fdownload%2F9562

2. https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sigmalive.com%2Ffiles%2Fdownload%2F9560

Hermes said...

Yes, this is roughly my understanding in regards to a House of Reps and Senate structure. I suppose the next question, from our perspective, is what powers will the Senate have in relation to the House of Reps or the executive? Because if the executive is elected by the governing party or coalition from the House of Reps, then it will mostly be a Greek unless we are divided. And what powers will the executive have? I am assuming quite weak. Also, what will be the relationship between the House of Reps and Senate. Will the Senate be able to raise bills or will this lie only with the House of Reps?

Not sure about Lygeros's argument. Greek Cyprus will have to give something up but he fails to mention they will gain something - contingent on how far they go - and that is the non-partition of the island. Also, we have to wait to see if the Turks are prepared to give up Famagusta and make other border changes.

John Akritas said...

Downer presented a set of convergences and divergences last year that gives an idea of what the two sides have been discussing since 2008, especially regarding legislative and executive powers and relations, etc.

http://www.c21broker.net/_Newsletters/downers77page.pdf

Your last point is very important. All this stuff about sovereignty, citizenship and parthenogenesis is of paramount importance to the Turks and is where we are prepared to give most concessions. So far, there’s been no discussion of those issues most important to us – return of refugees, territorial adjustments, and the three freedoms – movement, settlement and right to property. Only once we know what ‘concessions’ the Turks are prepared to make here will we know if what we’re giving up in terms of governance is worth it.

Hermes said...

I accidentally flicked to police force section in the "Downer" document and the proposed ratio is sickening.

John Akritas said...

The undemocratic, overrepresentation of the TCs in state institutions and TC insistence on absolute implementation of quotas is one of the main reasons the 1960 constitution failed. Now, as you say, what is being proposed is an increase in that undemocratic over-representation, something bound to lead to Greek Cypriot resentment – which can only be tempered if we get a lot in return in terms of return of territory, refugees, etc – though there is no indication that the Turks are willing to do this.

This is why I believe 1. not only is there a long way to go before this Joint Declaration translates into a deal that can be put to a referendum; 2. it is fanciful to believe that any agreed deal will, in practice, operate smoothly. Multiethnic states are prone to conflict and disintegration.

Hermes said...

The return of settlers section of the Downer document also makes me ill.

I cannot see how over-representation will be acceptable over the long term even if we do get large concessions on territory, refugees etc. For example, the children born after this deal, who come into adulthood in say 20 years, will bristle that Turks are over-represented in the police force, parliament etc.

John, more of a personal question, if you believe that multi-ethnic states are likely to disintegrate, then why don't you support some form of partition (obviously with gritted teeth)?

John Akritas said...

I'm hoping that in the process of disintegration, we manage to drive them off the island.

Hermes said...

I just listened to some of Nikolas Papadopoulos on RIK and I must say; although I agree with a lot of what he says, the reality is that there will never be solution if we held those views and positions.

John, the risk is that in the process of disintegration, the Turks might drive us off the island. If the balance of forces are approximately what they are now, then Greek forces will be ineffective.

John Akritas said...

I agree with you about Papadopoulos. His position seems to be that whatever agreement is reached, the Turks, being Turks, won't be satisfied until they take over all of Cyprus. Since this is the case, as you say, why are we in any negotiations – rather we should be training ourselves like Spartans to defend our country.

Yes, it's quite possible that, in the process of disintegration, we'll lose out; but a formalised partition in which Turkey is allowed to establish sovereignty and borders with a puny Greek entity, dependent in many ways on Turkey, is a prelude to Turkey taking over the whole of the island.

John Akritas said...

Seriously, though, our vision has always been that what we have to do is end the occupation and establish a form of reunification that will allow us, in the long term and through a process of osmosis, to reassert Hellenism throughout the island once again and make superfluous a bizonal, bicommunal federation. Of course, this vision was imagined before the rise of Turkey’s economy and its willingness to use this and other soft power tactics to project its interests.

Hermes said...

I agree completely. Perhaps we agree to a deal, and then just be a little more patient than before.

But, patience is not something I would ever associate with Greek people.

John Akritas said...

Between 1963 and 1974, the Turkish Cypriots were refusing to have anything to do with the Republic of Cyprus – which was fully in Greek control – and had retreated into enclaves. Not able to see a future for themselves, with Makarios treading carefully so as not to provoke a Turkish invasion, many Turks were leaving the island. It’s not hard to imagine that if it had not been for the junta, EOKA B and the coup, Turkish Cypriot numbers would have continued to dwindle and they would have been forced to accept Greek hegemony on the island, which sooner or later would have resulted in Enosis. But, like I said, had it not been for the junta, EOKA B and the coup…

So, yes, if we had been patient, Cyprus would, by now, have been where it belongs, with whom it belongs.

Hermes said...

But, we will not have full control under any agreement going forward. It sounds like Turks will become entrenched disproportionately in certain sectors.

Also, back in the '60s we did not have the annoying human rights industry. Today, they will be all over any subtle attempt to force Turks off the island.

Finally, let's look at what has happened in Thrace. We do have full control of Greece and the Muslims are still there. Of course, they are not dominant but they are there and the Turks use them.

John Akritas said...

No, I wasn't trying to imply that a similar situation to 1963-74 could arise, rather that it was an example of what you describe as Greek stupidity/lack of patience. In the future, if we are to regain control of the island, it will be through this process of osmosis. In the long term, it's hard to believe that the Turkish Cypriots will always remain the majority within their constituent state and that bizonality and all the other stuff regarding over-representation will stand.

John Akritas said...

In any case, we're getting way ahead of ourselves here. I still think it unlikely that a deal will emerge.

John Akritas said...

Also, I know exactly what you mean when you say that some of the proposed provisions in a solution make you ill, etc; but I suppose what we have to consider is whether they are better or worse than the current situation with occupied Cyprus being Turkified and Islamified, Varosi as a ghost city, more and more settlers arriving and so on and so on.

Hermes said...

This is an unacceptable situation.

Going back a few steps, you mentioned that if there was a partition of some sort, then a sovereign Turkish statelet will be in control of say 30-35% of the island, leaving Greek Cyprus dependent on Turkey.

Why is this so? We would have our own ports and airports. Water may be an issue but then again many Greek islands have this problem. And how would this differ if the whole of Cyprus was independent?

John Akritas said...

Εven if we overlook the disgrace of handing over say 20-25 percent of our country to the Turks – which would also set a terrible precedent in Thrace – where the Muslims would no doubt start to get their hopes up for a similar annexation – and the Aegean – there’s also no reason to believe that Turkey would be satisfied with 20-25 percent of the island and leave us to enjoy the rest in peace. It’s not hard to envisage Turkey using its economic and strategic muscle to intimidate and subdue the rump Greek state.

Also, if you go to this article – http://brcyprus.blogspot.co.uk/2008/02/blog-post_06.html – a scenario is painted in which the Greek rump state left over from partition would be unable to protect its Hellenic identity and Greeks would become a minority even in the Republic of Cyprus.

Hermes said...

Of course. But if we are talking about disgracefulness, then handing over key sectors to disproportional Turkish representation is also disgraceful. I suppose, nothing is going to be easy to swallow in all this and perhaps its accepting the least disgraceful option.

John Akritas said...

Yes, a settlement of the type on offer – a bizonal, bicommunal federation – is going to be full of iniquities and hard to swallow; but my view is that it should be taken so long as it offers the hope that, in the medium-term, we can erode it (and stipulates that Yialousa is returned under Greek Cypriot administration).

Hermes said...

I have been reading more of the discourse on this issue. Some of it is sort of shrill and others are more sober. For example, I think the below piece makes sense i.e. we have been trapped strategically, but it is slightly hysterical.

http://infognomonpolitics.blogspot.com.au/2014/02/blog-post_16.html#.UwFlxWKSxMg

This passage was interesting:

Μετά το 1974, οι η στρατηγική Αθηνών και Λευκωσίας έχει εναποθέσει τις ελπίδες επίλυσης του προβλήματος, σχεδόν αποκλειστικά, στην ψευδαίσθηση πως τόσο ο εμπλεκόμενος αμερικανοβρετανικός παράγοντας όσο και ο ΟΗΕ, θα ερμηνεύσουν το διεθνές δίκαιο όχι με κριτήριο τις γεωπολιτικές σκοπιμότητες αλλά στη λογική αντικειμενικών αρχών «διεθνούς νομιμότητας». Με αυτό τον τρόπο, αντί το διεθνές δίκαιο να ενισχύει την ελληνική πλευρά, οι λανθασμένες εκτιμήσεις για το ρόλο του στις διακρατικές σχέσεις προκάλεσε σταδιακά την αποδυνάμωσή της, την εγκατάλειψη πιο αποτελεσματικών προσεγγίσεων και την σταδιακή επικράτηση των πολιτικών θέσεων της Τουρκίας.

This is absolutely correct. But what choice did we have? We had to rely on international law in the hope that the the UN and others will respect that. If we did not give that a try, we would have just gone into the corner and sulked. It is not as if we are a geopolitical powerhouse. And we raped our countries for the last 40 years without thinking about what sort of consequences this will have in further weakening our geopolitical position.

Furthermore, what has been Russia's position on the latest talks? If the possibility of Turkish domination is a real possibility according to some commentators, then would Russia sit idly by an allow that?

John Akritas said...

There’s a lot of merit to the piece, but I’d mitigate it with the following:

1. There’s no question in my mind that we (particularly Makarios) realised early on after 1974 the full calamity of what had happened and that preventing partition and putting Cyprus back together again was going to be a long if not impossible process.

2. To some extent, the Greek strategy of relying on international law has been successful. The Republic of Cyprus continued as a viable and respected state, now a member of the EU, and Greek Cypriots have prospered, developing a sophisticated economy and society with high standards of living. The pseudo-state remains unrecognised – largely due to the fact that we secured UN resolutions declaring it an illegal entity and calling on UN member states not to recognise it. Turkey, itself, has been confronted with its occupation of Cyprus, particularly in its attempt to join the EU.

3. For 30 years Turks would say that the Cyprus problem was solved in 1974 and that all that remained was for the international community to recognise the state of affairs as existed on the ground. The fact that Turkey is even prepared to countenance some form of reunification is testament to the failure of Turkey to win the international community over to its Cyprus policy. Of course, Turkey’s policy now is to legitimise its occupation through negotiations – but we are not so weak – as we showed in 2004 – that we have to accept Turkey’s demands. We came through the opprobrium of rejecting the Annan plan relatively unscathed.

On Russia, it has welcomed the talks; but I’m not too sure what its game is. Certainly, with Anastasiades, relations with Russia have cooled and those with Europe and, particularly, America have revived. No doubt, in any solution, the Americans will try to secure Cyprus within Nato – perhaps offering to replace the British/Greek/Turkey guarantors with a Nato one. Russia is not involved in our hydrocarbon explorations – this has gone to Israeli, French, Italian and US interests. Not too sure what’s happening with Russian economic interests on the island after the bail in; but no doubt Russian economic penetration will diminish.

John Akritas said...

A couple of articles on Russian economic and strategic interests in Cyprus:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/18/business/international/russian-business-target-of-cypriot-bailout-still-loves-the-island.html?smid=tw-share&_r=0

http://mignatiou.com/2014/02/o-neos-stochos-tis-rosikis-politikis/

Hermes said...

Thanks John. As expected, the Russian presence has not gone away.

So, it begs the question, if some of the more alarmist suggestions by Greek commentators, that Cyprus will be completely overrun and dominated by Turkey is true, what would the Russian state and Russian non-state actors do and say in this circumstance?

Hermes said...

Window on Eurasia: The Past Rise and Current Fall of Russian Cyprus

http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com.au/2014/02/window-on-eurasia-past-rise-and-current.html

John Akritas said...

The article you link to rings true to me. Russian penetration is exaggerated. There are a lot of tourists and possibly people confuse that with a permanent and overly influential presence. Still, it does seem the economic services industry catering to Russians and Ukrainians has survived the bail in. Strategically, Anastasiades has thrown his lot in with the Americans. They are now running the show regarding the settlement talks. It seems the Americans think a Cyprus settlement will help smooth relations between Israel and Turkey, allowing a pipeline to be built to carry Israeli gas to Turkey via Cyprus' territorial waters.

Hermes said...

John, any updates on the unification negotiations?

John Akritas said...

H. It's early days, but so far the Turks are putting forward the same old proposals – on property, territory, guarantees, derogations from the EU acquis – which they know cannot be accepted by our side. If the Turks keep up with this, then we have to conclude that they've embarked on these negotiations not to achieve a settlement but to sabotage any chances of a deal, after which they can claim that reunification is impossible and that other solutions – such as a formalised partition – must be considered by the international community.

Indeed, my suspicion that Turkey will collapse the talks, then call for partition – in the guise of a so-called 'independent' Turkish Cypriot state – has been reinforced by this International Crisis Group ‘report’ by Hugh Pope – a man blatantly on the payroll of the Turkish foreign ministry. Pope says that efforts at federation should be abandoned and alternatives considered; his alternative, the creation of an ‘independent’ Turkish Cypriot state, happening to coincide with Turkey’s long-term Cyprus policy.

I don’t take the timing and content of such ‘reports’ to be coincidental. They are designed to prepare international public opinion (i.e. journalists, academics, opinion-formers, etc) for Turkey’s vision of Cyprus after the failure of the talks.

Hermes said...

Interesting. Pope is a dog.

I just wonder, what the events in Crimea will mean in Cyprus. Of course, great for the Crimeans and Russians, a historical wrong was corrected, but will it work in our favour?

Note, I was very envious to see the joy on Russian faces on reunification and thought to myself that it would be great to see the same joy on Cypriots and northern Epirote faces, on unification with the fatherland.

John Akritas said...

You’d have to think that an assertive Russia would limit Turkey’s ambitions to become a regional power and this would be good for us. Greece and Cyprus have supported Russia at EU level and I’m sure this wouldn’t have gone unnoticed in Moscow. Still, we shouldn’t get too carried away with Byzantine nostalgia and believe that Russia has the potential to revive an Orthodox political space. I’ve always reckoned Pan Slavism rather than Pan Orthodoxy sways Russians more.

Regarding Cyprus, I have another theory. As we all know, Turks are thick and prone to believing their own propaganda. In this case, I believe it’s possible that a Cyprus deal is struck that is tolerable to our side – and offers prospects for improvement in the medium term – and that this would arise because the Turks – perhaps anxious to improve ties with the EU or get hold of E. Med gas (via a pipeline through Cyprus’ EEZ) – are quite capable of telling themselves that they have secured a resounding triumph when in fact they have not.

John Akritas said...

I suppose also that events in Crimea would have shown to the Turks how, despite their claims that they are a regional power, they are impotent when it comes to serious powers like Russia. Perhaps this'll make them more inclined to integrate with the West –something they can only properly do if there is a Cyprus solution.

John Akritas said...

I've just read this piece. I don't really agree with it – the Turks have their eye on Thrace regardless of Crimea – but it's a point of view.

http://iokh.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/blog-post_9118.html

Also, Anastasiades has been telling his EU colleagues that they should support Cyprus' ambitions to become a regional energy hub in order to lessen dependence on Russian gas, which is interesting. Maybe the EU will now push this Cyprus-Greece gas pipeline.

John Akritas said...

This is a good piece on the problems caused to Turkey by Crimea's union with Russia:

http://mignatiou.com/2014/03/giati-i-tourkia-fovate-tis-exelixis-stin-krimea/