THE CYPRUS IMPASSE:
THOSE GREEK-CYPRIOT SUPER PATRIOTS
Why is the Cyprus Problem [CyProb], after half
a century, still unresolved? Briefly, it is the GC Super Patriots.
Ozay Mehmet, Distinguished Research Proferssor of International Affairs, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ont, CANADA
Who exactly are they? They are a special breed of ‘warriors’ of the Long Struggle. They control the agenda in South Cyprus and they represent the single biggest obstacle to settling the CyProb on the basis of a power-sharing UN Peace Plan that provides for a Bi-zonal and Bi-communal loose federation.
In 2004, they combined under the leadership of the then-Papadopoulos, their president, to defeat the Annan Plan which the Turkish Cypriots, much to their credit, endorsed by 66% majority in the separate Referandum in the North. As a result, the Turkish Cypriots have gained a moral victory, but they still remain unrecognized and diplomatically isolated, while the Greek Cypriots in the South enjoy international recognition, including membership in the EU.
Since 2012, the South has been bankrupt, similar to Greece and both are living off bailout handouts from European creditors. One would have thought that with no economic options, the Greek Cypriot side would have finally embraced the UN Peace Plan. Especially so, after it has been discovered that the hydrocarbon reserves supposed to exist in the island’s territorial waters is now confirmed to be much less than originally estimated.
The hydrocarbons were once considered to be a “catalyst” for a solution of the CyProb. Not so because GC Super Patriots categorically reject any scheme of monetizing hydrocarbons involving Turkey. And, of course, all economic studies demonstrate that the only feasible way to monetize hydrocarbons is via pipeline to Turkey, just 50 miles to the north. The USA, Israel and all foreign investors know it. But those Super-Patriots want to avoid Turkey Why?
Driven by hate of Turks and everything Turkish, these Super Patriots have their own version of Reality and History. Look at their mindset: A favorite instrument of war of these warriors is ‘blogging,’ writing nasty comments at length every day in the pages of the English daily Cyprus Mail, attacking viciously on anyone who dares challenge their Dogma.
And what is the Dogma according to these Super-Patriots?
1. CyProb began with the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in the summer of 1974. Everything in the North is ‘stolen’ property.
2. Akritas Plan and the suffering of Turkish Cypriots from Xmas 1963 - 1974 are myths.
3. The Turkish Cypriots rights? None, because this is an All-Greek island. TCs must accept whatever GCs feel giving them. In particular, hydrocarbons around the island are all theirs and Turkey and Turkish Cypriots, who have stolen the third of the island already, are now trying to steal “their” hydrocarbons.
4. 18% is a sacred cow for these Super-Patriots...The number means TCs are a small minority and can in no way be equal to GCs.
5. What is the solution of the CyProb? End the illegal Turkish occupation in the North, terminate the “pseudo-state” called TRNC, and return all “stolen” GC property to the rightful GC owners.
In the meantime, they resist and totally reject any cooperation with Turks.
These Super-Patriots are now mad at such foreign diplomats as Jack Straw, the former English Foreign Secretary. Mr. Straw had the courage to ignore Papadopoulos and come on an official visit to the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus [TRNC] President Mehmet Ali Talat. The Super-Patriots would lynch Straw for having recently uttered the perfectly logical reality of contemporary Cyprus: Accept the existing division and go for a Two-State Solution.
Now, the Super-Patriots are at it again: This time, their venom is directed at the current British Foreign Secretary Hummond set to visit the TRNC in an upcoming visit to the island.
Accepting the Turkish fact on the island is too much for these Super-Patriots. For them “Cyprus is a Greek island, it has been so for 3000 years.” This is their Dogma taught by Church and in their schools.
Theirs is a fantasy world, shaped by ultra-nationalistic indoctrination known as MEGALI IDEA, dreaming of the day when all Turks will be driven out of Cyprus, Izmir, Istanbul and Asia Minor, and all wrongs will be righted according to their dream.
They might as well be waiting for the Venetians to re-conquer the island from the Ottomans! Never mind that neither the Venetians nor the Ottomans are around. Or that Byzantium is ancient history. Real world is not what these Super-Patriots recognize.
The tragedy is that Super-Patriots call the shots when it comes to policy-making in the South…especially so whenever there is a weak Leader. And the current leader, Mr. Anastasiades [Mr. A for short] is nothing else if not weak. Even though in 2004 he voted for the Annan Plan, since his election, and particularly after the Euro bankruptcy that left the South in deep financial and economic crisis, Mr. A has never missed a chance to wrap himself around a Greek flag and dance to the tune of Super-Patriots.
Currently, UN talks at reaching a settlement on the island are stalled because Mr. A has walked off these talks. His excuse: Turkey is challenging the sovereign right of “Cyprus” [ meaning the all-Greek government in the South] by issuing a NAVETEX warning to all shipping and sending the seismic exploration boat Barbaros to the disputed waters of the island. Of course, this has skyrocketed Mr. A’s popularity amongst Super-Patriots, but has done nothing to help economic recovery or the financial bankruptcy of the South.
What are the prospects ahead? Not very promising.
On April 19, a new president will be elected in the North and, hopefully, a new [possibly the last] chapter of UN talks will be attempted. The chances of a settlement must be very small because of the opposition of those Super-Patriots. In the end, with UN help, the diplomatic isolation of the TRNC may be lifted and a big step taken toward the Two-State Solution. After living separately for half a century, it is difficult to see how suddenly the ideal of a Greek-Turkish partnership state can be achieved and, even more daunting, sustained on the island. When it comes to Cyprus, ideals must give way to reality: we live in a less than perfect world.
©March 2015, Prof. Ozay Mehmet - Posted to the Lightmillennium.Org on April 1, 2015.
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