Category Archives: Cyprus Problem

Η «Μακαρισμένη» Κυπριακή Δημοκρατία και το «εκ γενετής» Δικαίωμα της Τουρκίας

Source: IHA

Εδώ και 15 περίπου μέρες γίνεται λόγος στα Μέσα Μαζικής Επικοινωνίας για το 105σελιδο έγγραφο, συσσυγγραφής Τούρκου ΥΠΕΞ Αχμέτ Νταβούτογλου και Υπουργού Ευρωπαϊκών Υποθέσεων Μεβλούτ Τσαβούσογλου, που κατατέθηκε στην Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση (ΕΕ) κατά την 52η  συνεδρία του Συμβούλιο Σύνδεσης Τουρκίας-ΕΕ, την 23η Ιουνίου 2014. Το επίμαχο σημείο του εγγράφου, που ξεσήκωσε αντιδράσεις, είναι ο χαρακτηρισμός της Κυπριακής Δημοκρατίας ως defunct («εκλιπούσα» ή αλλιώς… «μακαρισμένη» – περισσότερα πιο κάτω).

Και ενώ η είδηση έχει καλυφθεί από διάφορα Μέσα, σε επίπεδο πολιτικής τηρείται σχετική σιγή, πλην της αντίδρασης της Κύπριας ευρωβουλευτού, Ελένης Θεοχάρους, η οποία ήγειρε το θέμα στην Ολομέλεια του Ευρωπαϊκού Κοινοβουλίου κατά την παράδοση της ελληνικής προεδρίας της ΕΕ στην Ιταλία. Εκεί, η ευρωβουλευτής είχε φέρει τον Έλληνα Πρωθυπουργό, Αντώνη Σαμαρά, και τον Έλληνα ΥΠΕΞ, Ευάγγελο Βενιζέλο, προ των ευθυνών τους σχετικά με την απραξία της Ελλάδας και της ελληνικής προεδρίας της ΕΕ για το συγκεκριμένο έγγραφο και το περιεχόμενό του. Γεγονός που έβαλε την Ελλάδα σε δύσκολη θέση και  εξόργισε, καθώς λέγεται, τον Έλληνα ΥΠΕΞ ο οποίος κινητοποίησε το ελληνικό ΥΠΕΞ στέλνοντας ρηματική διακοίνωση στο αντίστοιχο κυπριακό (περισσότερα εδώ και εδώ). Continue reading

ECHR Vs. Turkey: Cyprus Wins

Source: Channel4

According to a decision by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), Turkey has to pay 90 million Euros in damages to Cyprus in compensation for its 1974 invasion of the island. Turkey was again called by the ECHR to pay a 13 million Euro compensation to Cyprus over property rights violations in the occupied territories, in 2009.

The Court’s decision is a victory, not only for Cyprus and its people, but also for Justice itself. An internationally renowned Court has yet again ruled the Turkish invasion and occupation of 37% of the island illegal, along with a big number of United Nations Security Council resolutions. Continue reading

Economic Crisis in Cyprus: Repercussions, Turkey and the Turkish-Cypriots

As a result of the global and European (Eurozone) systemic economic crisis, as well as due to domestic structural problems, human errors, and the direct linkages of the banking sector to the Greek economic and financial crisis, Cyprus has found itself gradually sinking into its own economic depression. This led to months-long negotiations between Cyprus and the Troika (the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund) for the eventual signing of a memorandum of (austerity) measures that would entail a bail-out package. Although the Cypriot parliament has passed a number of bills based on the negotiated memorandum, a final agreement has not yet been reached and the final, completed, form of the memorandum has not yet been signed. To be sure, these rapid economic developments have broad political implications on issues such as the resolution of the Cyprus Problem, the role and views of Turkey, Turkey-European Union (EU) relations, and the views of the Turkish-Cypriot community.

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"Because…we are all human beings"

I returned to England from Cyprus the other day and as I was trying to get my keys for my flat from the building reception, I had a brief conversation with the receptionist. I am going to leave out all the key-related stuff.

–       So, where are you from – the receptionist asked?

–       I’m a Cypriot, I replied.

–       Greek or Turkish?

–       Greek-Cypriot, I said.

–       The best sort, ha – he said, with an innocent smile on his face. He was trying to make a joke. A joke that would normally boost one’s nationalistic feelings of superiority – even if it was a joke or for a joke.

–       That is not true, I replied.

–       Oh yeah? And why’s that – he asked, again, cheerfully?

–       Because… we are all human beings – I said.

–       Oh, OK. That’s nice. [and then we went back to talking about the key-stuff]

  

And I was like (not out loud), if it was that simple to convince that man that Cypriots – and all other humans beings, for that matter – are the same, why is it so hard to do something like that in Cyprus?

Don’t bother trying to give me an answer; I already know it. I know most of them, anyway.

Zenonas Tziarras 07/10/2012

Understanding Turkey’s Cyprus Problem

On the 28th of December, the Cypriot President Demetris Christofias announced that the Aphrodite Block 12 field off the coast of Cyprus contains between 5 and 8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, which “opens up great potential for Cyprus and its people,” he said. Now the question is whether the gas find might also create a new dynamic which could lead to greater regional cooperation and a faster solution to the Cyprus problem.

Apart from President Christofias many other officials and academics supported the idea that the discovery of natural gas could make the conditions for a settlement more favourable. This notion implies, among other things, that Turkey will recognise the great interest it has from a future settlement in Cyprus; that it will appreciate how it could benefit from a future joint exploitation of the natural gas by the two communities under a federal state; as well as the possibilities of cooperation between Cyprus and itself, in consuming and transporting the gas. This is not implausible. And no one could question the benefits that Turkey would have from the implementation of such a scenario. However, this logic does not take into account the coercive attitude and unproductive diplomacy that Turkey has been pursuing of late. Moreover, this rosy picture also does not consider the other external relations of Turkey such as with the EU, nor the state’s domestic politics. Thus, while we cannot exclude the possibility that Turkey will change its stance, at the same time, the realities we have at hand do not leave us much space for optimism.

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Turkey: War or Blank Shots?

The recent developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, with Turkey threatening both Israel and Cyprus in an effort to prevent them from proceeding with the extraction of the Cypriot natural gas and beyond, the question that arises is whether Turkey can – or is willing – to carry out its threats.
Given all the things it has accomplished the last decade, including the recent victory of the Islamists against the Kemalist establishment, and knowing that there is indeed a gap of power in the wider Mediterranean region, Turkey, has overestimated itself and has adopted an unprecedentedly arrogant stance which leads to the overt promotion of its national interests. But this arrogance has put it in a very difficult position from which it will hardly come out unscathed. At this moment it is balancing between two realities: the threats that it already made on the one hand and the multiple fronts it has to face on the other. For example Turkey is facing the Kurdish problem at home and on its borders with Northern Iraq, Syria and Iran. Moreover, its relations with Syria are in serious decline because of the crisis that is taking place in the latter. Furthermore, Ankara seems to be losing the support of the Iranian government particularly since it has agreed to install NATO’s anti-missile radar in Turkish soil. To this troubling situation the crisis with Israel has also been added.
Consequently, it would be rational for Turkey not to further escalate the situation. However it has already threatened Cyprus and Israel. It has already used “strategic coercion.” If it does not work, according to this kind of tactic, Turkey should normally proceed in carrying out its threats in order to maintain its credibility as a regional superpower. Anything less than that would affect its image and at the same time it would mean that such a tactic would not be convincing in the future. Therefore Turkey appears to be in a big dilemma: to engage in a war which seems to be beyond its capabilities (mainly because it will weaken its domestic security), or to step back risking the image that it tried so hard to create? The most likely scenario is that Turkey will undertake its well known violations (of airspace and marine boarders), creating small-scale events which it can easily handle, in order to keep the risky equilibrium between what it wants and what it can accomplish. Another – unlikely but nonetheless not implausible – scenario is to see Turkey going beyond what is reasonable and possible, together with a full shift in Davutoglu’s doctrine of “zero-problems” and “soft-power”.

Cyprus – After the Tragedy of April 11, 2011

Early in the morning of July 11, 2011 at the naval base “Evangelos Florakis” in Limassol, Cyprus, 98 containers filled with gunpowder and TNT explosives detonated leaving 13 people dead and 61 others wounded. The explosion generated a blast wave with a radius of 5-6km, causing incalculable damage to the Naval Base, to the electricity generating station of the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC), and to properties in nearby villages. The tragic irony is that these munitions did not even belong to Cyprus. In 2009 it had seized them within its territorial waters from a Russian ship, en route from Iran and bound for Syria. Over the last three years the containers had been the subject of discussions within the Ministry of Defence and the High Command of the National Guard (GEEF) without any substantial progress as to what to do with them. Also, despite the constant reminders and warnings from the naval base commander, the necessary security measures had not been taken although the risks were very obvious.
This tragic incident in conjunction with other local, regional and international circumstances is likely to create unbearable consequences in many sectors, especially the economy. Furthermore, it raises questions about the role and status of the National Guard (NG) and the country’s future outlook.
The whole world, and especially Europe, is going through a financial crisis which has led to the weakening of national economies and the European Union itself through the crisis within the Euro-zone. Important examples of this European economic downturn are Greece and Spain while in recent months Cyprus has joined the list of affected countries as well. In this context, the circumstances under which the July tragedy took place could not have been worse. The total damage to the Cyprus economy is estimated at more than 3 billion Euros.
In this light it is certain that the Republic of Cyprus will be burdened with huge costs in order to restore the power station, which meets 50-60% of the Island’s energy needs. Apart from that, there are direct economic effects. The lack of electricity has already caused huge economic losses in small and large businesses which drive the Cyrpiot economy. In addition, the hotel industry and tourism related businesses have been seriously affected since the incident, causing holidaymakers to stay away from Cyprus. This has exacerbated the already weak financial picture while also potentially leading to higher unemployment rates as businesses are forced to close. Apart from the impact on Cyprus, this situation also has the potential to affect the EU as a whole, due to the generally fragile economic situation across Europe.
Indeed, the energy crisis on Cyprus caused by the destruction of the electricity station highlights the need for more renewable energy resources and a more efficient exploitation of the country’s undersea energy resources.
The economic weakening of a state implies the reduction of its total power. This does not necessarily mean that the state becomes paralysed but due to it being in a disadvantageous position, it cannot always follow the domestic or foreign policy course that it wants. Often this results in a government losing its popular support and, inevitably, a conflict between state and society. In Cyprus, this scenario is even more complicated because of the political-military problem which the Republic of Cyprus faces with the Turkish occupation.
Turkey has always followed a wait and see policy to exploit any political developments which occur on Cyprus, so that it can gain as much advantage as possible. When a state loses part of its diplomatic power – which cannot remain unaffected given its linkages with all the other sources of state power – then its effectiveness in any kind of negotiation is brought into question. Additionally, if the Republic of Cyprus suffers a significant weakening of its economy, then it will find itself in a disadvantageous position in terms of its agreements with other countries and with multinational corporations regarding the management of its energy resources. Such a situation often leads to a vicious cycle where economic failure and social instability weaken the country’s ability to negotiate on the international stage.
Of course, all of these levels of governance and policy-making are controlled by people who have either personal or collective responsibility, as members of political parties. In Cyprus, the nepotism and self-interest that characterises the state’s administrative machine are chiefly to blame for the political failures and the poor management of the economy which are part and parcel of the current crisis.
The tragedy of July 11th is not the first in the NG’s history and has highlighted systemic problems within both the NG and the Ministry of Defence. Other accidents have preceded this one including errors in the handling of ammunition and weapons, resulting in many deaths and injuries over the years. Some have argued that the NG should receive more state funding to alleviate these weaknesses, particularly given that Cyprus is an occupied state which has to have the means to defend itself in case hostilities with Turkey ever re-ignite. However, the political and military realities are very different from 30 or 40 years ago. Based on any rational analysis, the situation facing Cyprus is made all the more tragic when it becomes clear that demilitarization would be a much better option for the Republic, not only on the political and economic levels but on the strategic level as well. The maintenance of the NG, which has no pragmatic or positive benefits for the state and burdens the economy as well, is clearly a continued handicap for Cyprus compared with the benefits which demilitarization could provide.
There is a truth that needs to be sought in the wake of this tragedy, a problem which the resignation of the Minister of Defence and the Head of GEEF has still not resolved. The realities and possibilities discussed above must be weighed and decisive steps must be taken if Cyprus is to emerge from the current crisis, while the role of the National Guard should be re-examined. In such moments, superficial policies or doctrinal notions are neither suitable nor acceptable. The Republic’s governing authorities as well as every politician should work for the common good. This is their opportunity to demonstrate that political integrity still exists and alter the dubious political image they have been presenting for so many years.
Zenonas Tziarras
Published on July 23, 2011 on www.global-politics.co.uk
A Greek version of this article can be found here