Sunday, 1 August 2021

The opening of Varosha, the absence of countermeasures and Britain as scapegoat

On the anniversary of Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus, President Recip Tayyip Erdogan found himself in the occupied areas of the island to declare that the Turkish Cypriots needed a spanking new ‘presidential’ palace for Turkey’s selected puppet to dwell in, befitting the ‘state’ the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ purports to be.

He also reiterated that from now on Turkey would only discuss a Cyprus solution that involved the creation of two, independent states on the island. The long-touted bizonal, bicommunal federation formula was no longer acceptable to Ankara, even if by two independent states what Turkey means is a confederation, so that the Turkish minority would be independent in the north and have a controlling say in the running of central government.

Finally, Erdogan confirmed the 'opening' under Turkey's auspices of the large Greek Cypriot town of Varosha – a suburb of the city of Famagusta – from which, in 1974, its population either fled or was expelled and has, ever since, been prevented from returning by the Turkish military because, as everyone knows, Varosha has been regarded by the Turkish side as a bargaining chip that will be traded away to extract concessions from the Cypriot side in any settlement.

Declaring that it now considers Varosha as part of the territory of its puppet ‘state’, Turkey’s move is rightly being interpreted as indicating that it is no longer pursuing a mutually acceptable Cyprus solution and that its occupation of 37 percent of the island will now exist in perpetuity.

So, what has the response to such serious developments been from the government of the Republic of Cyprus? What countermeasures has it taken? How does it intend to make Turkey and, more specifically, its subordinate administration, the flunkies who front it, pay for the extension and cementing of the occupation?

The answer is not much. The government secured a presidential statement from the UN Security Council condemning Turkey’s moves – which are contrary to Security Council Resolution 550 that insists Varosha be handed over to the UN to administer in preparation for the return of its lawful inhabitants; while the EU’s foreign affairs chief, Josep Borrell, issued a statement condemning ‘Turkey’s unilateral steps and the unacceptable announcements’.

Predictably, Turkey dismissed both the UN and EU positions – berating them for not understanding the facts on the ground and falling for black Greek propaganda. Turkey vowed to continue with its plans to open Varosha.

The decision by Turkey and the occupation regime in Cyprus to open Varosha was first announced by Kudrut Ozersay in August 2019. In other words, Turkey’s statements on Varosha on 20 July weren’t sudden nor could they be described as catching the Cypriot side by surprise. They had been foretold and entirely expected.

In these circumstances, you would’ve anticipated that the Cypriot government had a package of countermeasures ready to announce against the occupation regime, having been given nearly two years to come up with them.

However, there has been no announcement of any such measures. Rather, all there has been is a vague threat to deprive occupation regime lackeys of their Republic of Cyprus passports and an even vaguer pledge to examine the possibility of closing, for limited time periods, the crossing points between the free and occupied areas of Cyprus, particularly those – at Ledra and Deryneia – which are most beneficial to the occupation regime economy. (Presumably, the Cyprus government is aware that unless the crossing point regulations are changed, it will be in the absurd and unsustainable position of waving through tourists from the free areas to Varosha to enjoy the usurped properties and land of ethnically cleansed Greek Cypriots).

What was absent from the Cyprus government was any consideration of criminal prosecutions against occupation regime flunkies who will be in violation of any number of Republic of Cyprus laws – as if they haven’t been since 1963 – by collaborating with Turkey to steal, trespass on and loot the land and properties of the government and citizens of the Republic of Cyprus.

Instead of announcing effective countermeasures against the occupation regime, the Cyprus government, via the statements of President Nikos Anastasiades, took aim at the UK government, for, apparently, attempting to water down the UN Security Council presidential declaration, accusing London of ‘fuelling’ Turkish audacity.

A tiresome scapegoating tactic, as if Britain was responsible for Turkish triumphalist and expansionist ideology, which Erdogan and his Turkish Cypriot nationalist gofers are wedded to and is behind the opening of Varosha; and as if it’s Britain preventing the Cypriot government from taking measures that would have personal cost to those in the occupation regime carrying out the Varosha usurpation.

As for why the Cypriot government won’t go down the route of asserting the rule of law in Cyprus, of casting the occupation regime lackeys as the criminals that they are, this is presumably because, in an extraordinary display of self-delusion, it believes international pressure will reverse Turkey’s course and bring it and the Turkish Cypriot leadership back to the negotiating table where they will agree to a settlement acceptable to the Greek Cypriot side.