No one seems to hear the bellowing echoes for justice in Cyprus. Ever since the Turkish military invasion of the island in 1974, trapped citizens keep asking why and what is happening to their country. Why has this elusive justice evaded the island for so many years? Is it because justice is selective and does not exist? Or, is it because Cyprus does not deserve it – that cannot be so, for everyone deserves justice! Is it maybe because Cypriots have been gullible, trusting outsiders to solve their own problems? Or worse, is it because their own governments have for so many years failed to establish policies to protect the nation from harm’s way?
Whatever the reasons, reality speaks for itself. Today, Cyprus has not only lost its way through incompetence and corruption, but its territorial integrity is under threat – once again – by the same aggressor, with serious consequences in the making. Turkey has initiated a campaign of military provocation against Cyprus on the pretext that it “does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus.”
Ankara’s flunky, Dervis Eroglu, the Turkish-Cypriot leader and his party, defended Turkey’s behaviour claiming that “Turkey acts under the instructions of the Turkish-Cypriots to explore for natural gas on their behalf.”
Equally, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who perceives himself as the next Sultan of a delusional new Ottoman Empire, went a step further. He issued instructions to his naval chief and commanders to apply “rules of engagement.” Indirectly, this is an act of war. His orders are aimed against Greek, Israeli and Cypriot ships “to shoot and destroy” when “perceived” to pose a threat to Turkey’s national interests.
Along with that instruction, Ankara has also issued additional warnings in the form of blackmail to Nicosia: “Cyprus must cease all its exploration activities for natural gas in return for peace and stability.” Meanwhile, “Barbaros,” the seismic Turkish frigate exploring for gas, maintains its route of intimidation and continues to trespass into Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) while escorted by warships in readiness to protect it with military action.
Turkey’s aggressive behavior certainly does not help to build bridges of trust between the two countries or its neighbors. Under these conditions, Cyprus had no other option but to cancel the bi-communal negotiations indefinitely – something it should have done so years ago. This came as a shock to both Turkey and the Turkish-Cypriot leadership – they never anticipated such a move by the Republic of Cyprus. The termination of the talks has cost Turkey and the Eroglu regime a political setback and spoilt their devious plans for the island.
No longer in the limelight, Eroglu – with his ego wounded – has been pleading with the United States, the UN and the EU to use the influence of their good offices to sway the Greek-Cypriot side to return to the negotiating table “unconditionally.” Cyprus on the other hand, refuses to consider such a move until Turkey stops its provocations. Stalemate! Even the USA – for the first time ever – has declared that ‘Turkey’s actions undermine the continuation of negotiations for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.”
The European Parliament has also criticized Turkey’s behavior and has adopted a resolution, making it abundantly clear that Cyprus has “full sovereign rights to explore its natural resources.” Under international law, those rights were never in dispute by anyone – except for Turkey – but at least the resolution reaffirms the obvious. EU also demanded that Turkish vessels operating illegally in waters and around the EEZ of Cyprus “be withdrawn immediately,” and called upon Turkey to sign and ratify without further delay, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), a part of the “acquis communautaire.”
Undeterred, Turkey has decided to recognize neither the European Parliament resolution nor international law. This is coming from a country that keeps begging for EU membership; a country that depends on EU markets for 80% of its exports; and a country that without the financial and military support of the West would still be called today the “poor nation of Europe.”
The present EU resolution is not panacea but it certainly provides good news for Cyprus and a slap on Turkey’s face. If Turkey continues to disrespect international law, it is hoped that the next course of action would lead to a string of trade and economic sanctions – like the EU and other powers did with Russia. The resolution also opens up the floodgates for Nicosia to initiate legal action against those companies colluding with Turkey’s illegal gas exploration within Cyrpus’ EEZ.
The Republic of Cyprus is now armed with a small political leverage it never enjoyed before. This is an opportunity to start and defend its own interests. With the right strategies in place, Turkey can be isolated until it starts to behave in a civilized manner. Yet, the government is reluctant to initiate effective measures. In fact, it should have closed all crossings indefinitely by now until the Turkish-Cypriot leadership and Ankara both start to behave with integrity. If this political opportunity is applied wisely, will certainly transform the entire geopolitical climate in Cyprus and the greater area. Misuse this and it’s lost forever; for time is of the essence!
Turkey without a doubt has lost its trustworthiness. It is the only country in the area that keeps on making enemies rather than friends. The Turkish Prime Minister refuses to accept errors of judgment; instead, he is livid at the backlash his regime is receiving from Russia, the EU and the outside.
Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, and Iraq have humiliatingly turned their backs on his government for supporting Sunni fundamentalism and the likes of Islamic State (IS), Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood – all driven by the desire of Jihad. Their slogan is mutual: “God is our objective; the Qur’an is the Constitution; the Prophet is our leader; jihad is our way; death for the sake of God is our wish.”
Yet, backlash do not seem to stop Erdogan’s grand delusions, which are becoming more dictatorial by the day. At home, outspokenness and opposition to some of his government’s policies are not allowed and are often punishable for “unturkishness.” Neither is freedom of expression, where a great number of journalists are imprisoned for speaking out; but the greatest controversy of all has been his mega-ambition: the construction of his 1,000-room Aksaray (White Palace) – that dwarfs the White House – and his 250-room private residence, costing nearly one billion euros.
Such mega-projects not only are obscene but also indicate that Turkey’s Prime Minister (now declared a life-long President) enjoys an extravagant and omnipotent lifestyle. Such an attitude is reminiscent of a by-gone era of Sultan despotism and Nicolae Ceausescu’s repressive Romanian regime. The overwhelming population and his government’s opposition is angered by his power-hungry behavior.
Politically, Turkey is rapidly losing NATO’s respect but also straining its relations with the USA for refusing to take part in the defense of Kobane Kurds fighting the IS. Instead, Turkey remained inactive and watched the slaughter of Kurdish civilians. Such indifference to the plight of innocent civilians in full view, has given rise to international condemnation and abhorrence of Ankara.
The Kurdish people living in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran will not easily forget Turkey’s calculated behavior in Kobane. It will probably trigger the demise of the 10-year old AKP Erdogan regime and break up Turkey. The 28-million Kurds will demand their own territorial boundaries in eastern Turkey and will use all means to establish a Kurdish nation. In the process, the entire region will be destabilized for years to come and if the IS has anything to do with it, will then turn into chaos.
World diplomacy is never what it seems but dealing with Turkey is an area of grave uncertainties, especially when it comes to Cyprus. The discovery of vast amount of natural gas deposits in Cyprus’ EEZ has certainly transformed the Eastern Mediterranean. The island is likely to become the hub for energy trade and possibly turn Cyprus into the Switzerland of the Med – that is if the Cypriot government starts to govern the nation on the basis of meritocracy and not under the existing “politicocracy.” High stakes are now at play with big players on board.
Because of Cyprus’ energy market potential (and no other reason), the world has spoken out for justice in Cyprus. Now, one has to wait and see how the international community deals with those words of support against Turkey’s provocations.
This is also the right time for Turkish-Cypriot citizens (not the political party hierarchy) to break their silence and finally come out and be counted; do they want to reunite the island under one Cypriot EU-member nation or do they want to remain separated? They cannot have both.
Today is a good day to start…