Greek Cypriot authorities are steadily but persistently losing their grip on reality. Since 1974 they have been living in a dense atmosphere of being assaulted, occupied and threatened by a far superior military force. The consistent and successful policy of Greek Cypriot politicians has been to "internationalize" the problem of Cyprus. The short-sightedness and nationalistic stance of the Turkish political class has helped Greek Cypriots to totally internationalize the issue and to keep their status of the only "internationally recognized Cypriot government."
While Turkey was insisting upon the feasibility of an "inter-communal" solution based on a bi-zonal and bi-communal system with political parity, Greek Cyprus brought the issue before the European Court of Justice through Greece as an "intervening third party," to block all exports from self-proclaimed Turkish Cyprus to the EU. This has strongly weakened the already fragile economy of Turkish Cyprus, who over 30 years started to ask for a better perspective than to remain an enclave supported only by Turkey.
This move did not find any reciprocal attitude on the Greek side. As a matter of fact, Greek Cypriots never wanted a reunification based on political equality, but a negotiation out of which they would obtain as much land and compensation as they could. This policy delivered results as long as Turkey was seen as "intransigent." The whole scenery changed when under then secretary general of the U.N., Kofi Annan, a very thorough plan to reunify and demilitarize the island was at last prepared and put up as a popular referendum. There, things went sour - the Greek community rejected the plan with a 75 percent majority, whereas two thirds of Turkish Cypriots supported the referendum. This was a very clear demonstration of the real situation on the island: the Greek side, the large majority of the population on the island, never wanted reunification on equal terms. But the event went almost unnoticed because Russia blocked the agenda of the U.N. Security Council to help Greek Cypriots not suffer from the consequences of their refusal. Greece, on the other hand, secured the acceptance of a divided Cyprus in the EU by blackmailing all member states to block the fifth enlargement if Cyprus was to be refused.
The last scandal was made public when the Cypriot economy went bankrupt and it became evident that it was mainly functioning as a financial base for Russian oligarchs' money. Greek Cypriot authorities have lost all of their credibility and reputation; everyone knows that, except themselves and perhaps the Greek government in Athens.
When the Greek Cypriot government slammed the door of negotiations in the face of Turkish Cypriots because a Turkish exploration ship was sent to the Greek Cypriot exclusive economic zone in the Mediterranean, they thought to be able to stage a real international problem for Turkey. In fact, Turkey has sent a couple of vessels to the area in retaliation for Greek Cyprus having not abided by the gentlemen's agreement to not start natural gas exploration before reaching a solution on the island.
Greek Cyprus wanted a halt to the accession negotiations, a clear condemnation of Turkey at the Council of Ministers at a period when Turkey's image, already not brilliant, is at its lowest in the European Parliament and EU circles. They have plainly got nothing, just a very minimal condemnation and a desire to see the negotiations on the island resume as swiftly as possible. That should show Cypriot Greek authorities, and possibly Greece, how deep they have fallen in the international arena. Will they come to understand reality? Nothing is less sure.
On Tuesday, Oct. 21, the European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Stefan Füle called for the tensions over gas exploration to be calmed between Greek Cyprus and Turkey. On Oct. 20, Nicosia criticized the presence of Turkish war ships in its exclusive economic zone. Cyprus accuses Turkey of conducting "provocative and illegal" maneuvers in breach of its sovereignty. On Oct. 6, Nicosia announced the suspension of negotiations on reunification with Turkish Cypriot leaders in order to protest the presence of Turkish vessels in its exclusive economic zone (see EUROPE 11172). "Time to de-escalate and keep doors open for swift return to negotiations for comprehensive Cyprus settlement to the benefit of all," Füle wrote on Twitter.
Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades is due to discuss the situation with his counterparts at the European Council on Oct. 23-24. His minister of foreign affairs, Ioannis Kasoulides, also addressed the subject at the Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg on Oct. 21.
On Oct. 7, the spokesman for European Council President Herman Van Rompuy spoke of Van Rompuy's concerns regarding "renewed tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean." He continued, "It is essential that all parties respect the sovereignty of others and are willing to settle disputes peacefully in accordance with international law." The spokesman added that all the parties should do their utmost to ensure a positive climate in order to continue negotiations on the island.