Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades will succeed in his burning desire to reunify the island, whose northern third is still occupied by a standing Turkish army and unlawful invaders, right about the time Greece gets back Istanbul, which it still calls Constantinople, believing it’s 1453.
Anastasiades needs something he can call a victory because he’s been distracted from the Cyprus Problem since being elected last February and immediately reneging on his vow not to confiscate people’s bank accounts to save the banks from their own negligent mistakes.
That was in giving bad loans to Greek businesses and buying Greek bonds that became as valuable as Confederate dollars after former Greek finance chief Evangelos Venizelos devalued them by 74 percent in a failed bid to make a dent in his country’s runaway debt.
Bank account seizures was Anastasiade’s first mistake, compounded by not going after the bankers who brought their institutions and the country’s economy to the edge of ruin.
Now he’s about to make a bigger one, and if he succeeds, he will go down in history as the man who sold out Cyprus, a title that his predecessor, Demetris “Commie” Christofias so dearly wished he could hold.
Anastasiades has agreed to peace talks with his Turkish-Cypriot counterpart Dervis Eroglu, a hardliner who won’t give in on any points for any reason unless Turkey wins. That strategy so frustrated Christofias – who was even willing to have a Turk be the President of Cyprus every other term – that he threw up his hands in prayer to Stalin and decided not to run for re-election.
It won’t be Anastasiades and Eroglu who do the real negotiating after establishing a blueprint that already calls for two separate countries to be under one alleged federal roof – except with the right to supercede the laws they don’t like, which will be most of them.
Technocrat talkers will handle the fine details after being given marching orders: the Cypriots by Anastasiades, and Eroglu by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who’s already declared, “There is no country called Cyprus,” which could make negotiating a little tough if your opposite is invisible or doesn’t exist.
But this is the way the Turkish side does business: our way or the highway, and Anastasiades has already put his country on that highway to hell by believing anything will come out of these talks that will be anything but one-sided and in the Turkish-Cypriot favor. That includes allowing Turks who occupy the homes of Cypriots to keep them, and throw the real owners a couple of bucks in compensation for losing the place where they lived.
Anastasiades has to deal with Cypriots old enough to remember the unlawful 1974 invasion and who want an accounting of 1,619 of their missing countrymen, many allegedly carted off to Turkish prisons after the United States and England gave the green light for the invasion.
It’s unspecified yet, and the talks are mutable, but if Anastasiades allows a Turkish-Cypriot to be President of Cyprus then Cyprus effectively will, as Erdogan wants, cease to exist and Turkey will have occupied the island by proxy, without firing another shot.
Any agreement would have to go to a referendum, as did the tragically flawed Annan Plan in 2004 which was a giveaway to the Turks and so lopsided that 76 percent of the Cypriots voted against it. Fewer will this time because there’s a generation of them who don’t care what happened almost 40 years ago as long as they can get Spotify on their computers.
If someone invaded your house in 1974 and his children or grandchildren are still up in the second floor there, what Anastasiades is ready to do is let them come down and have kitchen and TV privileges – and take half your income, all in the name of settling a problem that wasn’t that of the Cypriots making.
The Turkish-Cypriots will agree to almost anything because it will be in their favor, but also because their side is as bad off economically as the other side of the Green Line in Nicosia separating them, and Turkey wants to get into the European Union, although it doesn’t recognize Cyprus which is, and bars Cypriot ships and planes from entering.
If Turkey didn’t allow French or German ships or planes and declared it didn’t recognize either country, the EU wouldn’t even be talking to Ankara, but Cyprus is so tiny that it doesn’t really count and was an afterthought entry into the bloc. And yet Greece supports Turkey’s admission.
There’s a lot of people who are ready for almost any agreement because they’re weary of four decades of going nowhere, and to them the invasion was ancient history. So is the fall of Constantinople 561 years ago but Greeks haven’t forgotten that.
Within 24 hours of setting down a blueprint for the talks, Anastasiades was already under attack in his own country and had to go on TV to defend the indefensible and why he was in bed with people who want the whole house.
“We need guarded optimism… I don’t want to appear pessimistic, but there is hard work to be done,” he said. He had to explain a joint communique he and Eroglu issued, kick-starting talks delayed two years because Eroglu wasn’t talking to Christofias.
Greek Cypriot critics say the negotiations would lead to a two-state solution through the back door and Anastasiades and Eroglu said that a settlement would be based on a “bi-communal, bi-zonal federation with political equality … with constituent Greek and Turkish Cypriot states.” When you’re talking unification or reunification, the word “bi” means you’re not.
There’s no separate but equal. There’s just separate, and that’s the way Cyprus is going stay unless the smell of oil and gas reserves off its coast draws the greedy. That prospect drove the UN to push the start of these talks again because there’s money to be had off Cyprus and it’s not just the Turks who want it, but American and Israeli and international companies.
The reason no one has been able to solve this conundrum is because it can’t be solved without selling out the Cypriots, which the UN, US, UK, NATO and European Union would dearly love to do so Turkey would be appeased, become a member of the EU and kick billions into the coffers of Brussels so politicians could keep traveling first-class and stay at five-star hotels.
It got so frustrating that the UN’s envoy, Alexander Downer, just recently threw up his hands and quit, finally understanding that, as Zorba said, “On a deaf man’s door you can knock forever.” Hear that, Mr. President?