Greece is not enough: Why is the EU Pressing for a “Solution” in Cyprus?
There are two fundamental aspects of the Greek bail-out program which are usually overlooked, as most people consider it to be just a harsh neoliberal economic program.
But the Greek bail-out program is much more than that. It is first and foremost a regime change program, an experiment in a EU country in abolishing the bourgeois democratic regime as we know it in Europe since 1945, if not since the English and French Revolutions. If it succeeds in Greece, it will be repeated elsewhere on the continent.
By essentially denying the principle of popular sovereignty, it is also denying the principle of national sovereignty and the (relatively) independent character of the Greek state. Greece occupies a strategic place in the Eastern Mediterranean on the path connecting Russia to the Mediterranean and Western Europe to the Middle East. Its independence was never completely tolerated by the British and then the American empires. Greeks were also suspected of leaning towards Russians, or at least this was the argument justifying the innumerable Western interventions in this country.
The abolition of the Greek state is a strategic transformation of enormous geopolitical consequences. This is even more true for the Republic of Cyprus, which is located in an even more strategic location in the Eastern Mediterranean and is also inhabited by Greeks (82% of the population).
Both the US administration and the EU leadership seem to now be in an extraordinary hurry to immediately solve the Cyprus problem, a problem dating back to 1974, as soon possible in 2016 or even in beginning of 2017.
They are applying the maximum possible pressure on President Anastasiades to accept whatever Ankara is asking and present to the Cypriot people, as soon as possible, in a new referendum, a variant of the Annan project for solving the conflict. This project was rejected by an overwhelming majority of Cypriot voters in the referendum of 2004.
It is perhaps no coincidence that the same London law firm which drafted the Greek “Loan Agreement” also drafted the Annan Plan for Cyprus if we give credit to what one article published in the Greek magazine Epikaira, claims.
Everybody knows the astonishing successes that the European Union has had in confronting its own crisis, in “saving” Greece or in addressing the Middle Eastern problems. Of course there are always people of bad faith who say that Greece was destroyed while they were “saving” it, or that it was not a great idea to bomb Libya to save it from Gaddafi or send arms to Islamists in Syria. Others will remark that the EU has failed to persuade its own citizens as to how correct its policies are, as proven in successive elections and referenda. Obviously, it is those citizens who are very primitive and do not grasp the rationale of today’s Europe’s policies. There are always people of bad faith who can only offer negative comments. But the reality is that the European Union is moving on from one success to another.
This is probably why Mr. Juncker recently thought that he has to extend this “successful know-how” to other problems as well, for instance the Cyprus conflict, to which he devoted a part of his recent “State of the Union” speech. Brussels’ sudden interest in Cyprus has coincided with Washington’s increasing interest in solving this conflict by the end of the year if possible.
Both the USA and Israel seem now more than ever pressed to construct a pipeline connecting Israel with Turkey. They believe that such a pipeline would stabilize Turkey within the Western system and exclude Russians from southern energy routes. But such a pipeline requires the solution of the Cyprus problem.
The EU is so keen to help Cypriots to “reunify” that the Commission is said to be ready to make serious exceptions to EU laws in accepting a “solution” of the conflict which would seriously contravene fundamental provisions of the Union.
Without a doubt, all of this represents a huge opportunity for Cyprus. One can easily imagine how nice the future of the island will be if the two stronger powers of the world, the United States and the European Union, were to cooperate in solving its problems. Cypriots can be sure of this. All their neighbors in the Middle East, like Syria and Libya, have enormously benefitted from US and European interest in them.
During his speech, Juncker explained that the EU would do everything possible to “reunify” the island. Some may believe Greeks were responsible for the conflict, while others that Turks are to blame. (There are also here some people of extremely bad faith who believe that the whole Cyprus question was a by-product of British and then US imperial policy. They even blame the nice person of Henry Kissinger for the whole Cypriot tragedy of 1974!)
At any rate, everyone can now have an opinion as to who is responsible for the events in Cyprus. But, speaking from the point of view of international legality and the unanimous resolutions of the UN Security Council, Cyprus is not “a divided country to be unified”, as Mr. Juncker put it. It is a country invaded by another which is still occupying a large part of its territory, a territory which also happens to be a territory of the European Union.
Division or invasion and occupation?
Mr. Juncker seems to ignore all of this. He could have asked Mrs. Merkel herself who, when she was in opposition, wrote a letter to her counterparts in the European People's Party explaining that it is not a good idea to invite to the Union a country still occupying part of another one (Turkey occupying part of Cyprus). Then she became Chancellor and, we suppose under pressure from USA, she forgot what she once wrote.
Another European politician, the French Gaullist Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, went on record on August 2nd, 2005 saying that it is just inconceivable that Turkey and the EU could begin accession negotiations while Ankara does not even recognize the Republic of Cyprus, an EU member. He has also forgotten his own position.
The facts have proven beyond doubt that France, Germany, and European public opinion were less powerful than the will of Washington, London and Israel, all of who pressed hard for the accession of Turkey to the EU.
What happened in Cyprus?
The very term “divided” Cyprus is rather misplaced, especially in the mouth of EU officials referring to a country and a state, a member of the EU, which was invaded by another country. Cyprus used to be one country and one state, the Republic of Cyprus, until Turkish troops invaded the island in 1974 and occupied a large part of its territory, from which they have expelled the majority of the Greek population (which was a majority in all Cyprus regions, including the territories occupied by the Turkish army).
During this military campaign, 3% of the Cypriot population perished, which is more victims than from the invasion of Iraq (in terms of percentage of the population). Under threat, the remaining Greek Cypriots in the occupied areas have had to move to the South, while Turkish Cypriots from the South were ordered to move to the North of the island.
The origins of the conflict
When Turkey invaded Cyprus back in 1974, it did so pretending that it was compelled to protect the constitutional order of the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Cypriot minority living there because of the coup fomented by the Athens junta against the elected government of Cyprus in July 1974. (Since that time, Turkey ceased even to recognize Cyprus. Ankara is now holding accession negotiations to the EU despite the fact that it does not recognize one of its members!) (*)
Anyway, if the goal of Turkey was to protect Turkish Cypriots and preserve the constitutional order of the Cypriot Republic, then this goal was already achieved at the end of July 1974. Both the Athens junta and the regime it imposed in Cyprus collapsed and Greeks were in no position to harm Turkish Cypriots. Negotiations were held in Geneva to solve the conflict.
It was only in August 1974, after having achieved its pretended goals in Cyprus, that Ankara, encouraged by Henry Kissinger, made a second military campaign occupying nearly half of the island and laying the basis for completing the ethnic cleansing of the Greek population from the North of the island where they constituted a majority.
This second military campaign was necessary from Kissinger's point of view. The real architect of the Cyprus tragedy wanted simply to get rid of the Republic of Cyprus. He wanted NATO to control the island and the best way to do such was to divide it between Greece and Turkey, two members of the Atlantic Alliance closely controlled by the United States.
But the plan was not successful to the end. In Chile, Kissinger had Salvador Allende killed. But in Cyprus, President Makarios escaped an assassination attempt. While all radios were announcing his death, Cypriots heard his voice, and they will remember it all their life, emitting from a local Paphos station telling them “I am alive” before calling on them to resist.
Makarios escaped from the island with the help of the British. On the island itself, the Socialists of Vassos Lyssarides were fighting for freedom. Soon, the Greek junta collapsed and a revolutionary situation prevailed in both Greece and Cyprus, where anti-American feelings were at their height. The plan would totally collapse and it would have the opposite results than the intentions of those who masterminded it if a second Turkish invasion would not follow.
As a result of all these events, the Republic of Cyprus has survived, albeit mutilated, to this day. The Security Council of the UN has unanimously recognized its government as the sole legitimate government of the island and asked for Turkey to withdraw the troops kept by Ankara in Cyprus (the North of the island, occupied by Turkey, is the most militarized region on Earth).
Same goals, different methods
Now what are the USA and EU pushing for? They want the Greeks to essentially accept the results of the invasion and the occupation of the island, including for significant Turkish forces to remain there. As for the internal structure of the state, the rule of majority has to be abolished, because Turkish Cypriots, who are a minority, cannot accept living under a Greek power.
It is only normal for a minority of the population to ask for and obtain special protection rights. It is not normal that, by invoking the need to protect the minority, all rights of the majority are abolished!
In fact this is a means by which to transform Cyprus into a protectorate. If you have two parties inside the decision process, then every time they disagree, a decision cannot be made. Judges and foreign officials appointed by Annan would take all decisions in the context of Annan Plan and the same provisions are valid for the new regulations under discussion. In Greece you now have foreign troika running the country like Kafka's Tribunal. It has been proposed that Cyprus be provided with a troika of judges to rule it (and behind it the real geopolitical troika of the region: the US, Britain, and Israel).
Here is where ends meet. What they are pursuing now is the same goal from 1974, i.e., the destruction of the Republic of Cyprus as a democratic, sovereign, and independent state. In the past, they did this with invasions, military coups, and assassination attempts, but now they are striving to do such with post-modern methods of political, diplomatic, and economic measures accompanied by a lot of anti-nationalism rhetoric. The essence of the proposed solution is the transformation of Cyprus into a post-modern Western protectorate with all the potential of being transformed into a Bosnia-like entity inside the EU.
Complete control over Cyprus would exclude any Russian presence in the Mediterranean and transform European states into protectorates in one form or another. These were the goals back in 1974, and they are the same in 2016. This is what the US administration and, obediently following, the EU bureaucracy and European governments want to accomplish as soon as possible.
(*) Of course, one should remember at this point that it was not an elected Greek government which organized this coup in Nicosia back in 1974. It was a dictatorial regime imposed by the US and NATO which ruled in Athens and organized the coup. By the way, many analysts believe that the only reason the Americans imposed a dictatorship in Greece in 1967 was to be able to organize the coup and provide Turkey with the pretext it needed to invade the island.
Before becoming an ethnic and religious conflict, the Cyprus problem was a colonial one – and in fact it remains such. London wanted to exempt Cyprus from the decolonization process for one reason: it was the most essential link between the West and the Middle East and the most valuable strategic location in all the Eastern Mediterranean. “We acquired the missing link”, said the British PM Disraeli, who hated Greeks, when his country took Cyprus from Ottomans, in 1878. To keep Cyprus, imperial Britain fomented all kinds of antagonisms between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots, Turkey and Greece, communists and nationalists, and so on. The USA, under Kissinger, followed suit.