Cyprus: A modern Sisyphus legend

Published 10.07.2014 00:53

A small island on the Mediterranean has never ceased to be a political problem since the Crusades. Important as a naval base and supply point, Cyprus has always been a land propitious for forays and raids. A relatively long period of stability continued under Ottoman rule, followed by a British invasion at the end of the 19th century.

Decolonization brought only enmity and instability over the island. Greece and Turkey, together with Great Britain devised a modus vivendi and a new regime for the island starting in 1959. In fact, "decolonization" can be seen in three distinct periods: First, the British wanted to repress the nationalist EOKA movement that wanted a free Cyprus, incidentally joining mainland Greece (the Enosis). Colonial repression, in a pure British vein, used the Turkish minority of Cyprus against the Greek majority, which involved a tripartite conflict, including Greece and Turkey, which ended up with the Zurich and London Agreements in 1960. The Republic of Cyprus was established in 1960, based on a power-sharing system institutionalizing the status of both the Greek and Turkish communities. The regime and the governance system were devised not so much by the representatives of Cyprus but mostly by three guaranteeing powers. After liberation, the second phase of "decolonization" started. The Greek majority wanted to be annexed to Greece, and two different attempts were made to that end. Firstly, 20,000 Greek soldiers, in civilian clothes and with tourist visas, were sent into the island, but as this move was too evident, they retreated under international pressure. Ultimately, a coup d'état was fomented by the ultra-nationalistic forces in 1974, openly supported by the Greek military junta in power at that time.

The coup attempt gave way to a full scale Turkish military operation, which invaded in two distinct steps more than one-third of the island, which is the third decolonization period. Since 1974 the island has been totally divided, looking very much like Haiti and San Domingo, two different societies on the same island, speaking two different languages and having almost no ties. The de facto partitioning of the island has lasted so long that, since 2004, reunification attempts have been unsuccessful. Now that Southern Cyprus has gone totally bankrupt due both to Greek default and Russian oligarchs' financial presence, their only hope for future is the discovery of a new Atlantis, meaning the natural gas reserves beneath the sea. As such exploitation can be made possible only through a solution established on the island, possibly including wide scale demilitarization, there is a new impetus for both Greek and Turkish sides to come to an understanding.

This is without taking into consideration the weight of 41 years of total separation and the negotiating skills of Greek Cypriots, who have been bamboozling the EU, the Russians and even the Israelis for the last 10 years. Turkish Cypriots have submitted a "five-step road map" to pave the way for a referendum by the population of the island, both communities involved. The two-and-a-half hour meeting held with Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiadis and Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) President Derviş Eroğlu was conducted in a "constructive and sincere manner," according to U.N. chief's special representative in Cyprus, Lisa Buttenheim.

"Constructive and sincere manner" means that parties managed to stay around the table until the end of the meeting, nothing more. For those who think that a solution is in sight in Cyprus, the Cypriot porte-parole Nikos Christodoulidis has been very clear, he thinks that Turkey wants a solution on the island and should pay the price for it, if it ever wants to get closer to the EU. In short, Greek Cypriots' blackmailing will continue.

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
Disclaimer: All rights of the published column/article are reserved by Turkuvaz Media Group. The entire column/article cannot be used without special permission even if the source is shown.
However, quoted column/article can be partly used by providing an active link to the quoted news. Please click for details..