A Fresh Look at the Cyprus Issue

By Orestes Varvitsiotes

Certain recent developments related to the existing situation in Cyprus have caused an angry response on the part of some Greek American organizations like the American Hellenic Institute; members of Congress like Michael Bilirakis and Carolyn Maloney, and the most significant of all, a forceful reaction by the US Senator, Olympia Snowe. It had to do with the way the "president" of the "Republic of Northern Cyprus", Mr. Talat, was addressed and treated in his recent trip to Washington, DC; the planned trips by US officials to what the Greeks call "the occupied part of the island", and the opening to international flights directly to northern Cyprus, thus by-passing and usurping the authority, and challenging the legitimacy of the government of the Republic of Cyprus as the sole representative of the entire island.

These developments came on the throes of another de-velopment, the unilateral recognition by the United States of FYROM as the Republic of Macedonia, at a time when negotiations were still taking place with Greece to find a compromise solution to the name dispute. This type of action by the US, of course, renders the negotiation process irrelevant, as it strengthens the position of one side so that it becomes inflexible and uncompromising, or even leading it to shun altogether the negotiating process, by imposing unilateral its own solution and retaining the present status quo.

I mention these two issues together because they demonstrate what to some has been evident for quite some time now, i.e., that in both instances the United States is part of the problem, not of the solution. Or more accurately, the kind of solution, or lack thereof, that may be reached will a solution that is in accord with United States wishes and interests, not with UN resolutions, fundamental principles-such as the rule of Law, majority rule, human rights, historic facts etc. And what are the US objectives which underlie (indeed, dictate) the kind of solution the United States favors and is pressing for its implementation?

Cyprus, of course, lies in Great Britain's sphere of influence, and here the US role is that of a supporter, unlike the Balkans, where the US is directly involved, or through proxies like the various commissions, governmental organizations, etc. Having said that, however, there is no doubt that it is the US that calls the shots, since it is the United States that has taken upon itself the task to reconstruct the world map (as, in time past, Great Britain did when it was the principal colonial power): from the Balkans (FYROM, Bosnia, " Kosovo), to the Caucasus (Georgia, Azerbaijan) to the Caspian Sea (Kazakhstan etc) and, of course, to the Middle East. What an empire!

According to a friend of mine, who has followed the Cyprus problem closely, the United States has a two-pronged objective in Cyprus: 1) To retain control (with or through Britain) of the strategic air bases on the island, and 2) To render the government of Cyprus unable to conduct an independent foreign policy, which might be harmful to US interests, as they perceive them. (Its relations with Moscow or the Arab states, for instance.) This can be accomplished in either of two ways: 1) By the implementation of the Annan Plan or a variation thereof, which would make the central government of Cyprus dysfunctional, with the Turkish side acting as proxies to the whims of the superpower, or 2) Should the present status quo of deadlock continue, then proceed with the de facto separation of the island into two separate states, the Republic of Cyprus and the Republic of Northern Cyprus. Therefore, the recent developments, cited in the beginning of the article, must be seen in light of such objectives, and the recent actions as a way to put pressure on the Greek side to accept the Annan Plan, the preferred solution; if the Annan plan is permanently shelved, it is a signal that they will go ahead with their substitute plan, a two-state de facto solution, for which they would blame the Greeks. In other words, the recent actions in Washington, DC were but the first steps of things to come!

If my friend's analysis is correct, what then ought to be the policy of the Greek Cypriots? In other words, if it is to be a choice between the Annan Plan, which gives the Turkish Cypriots disproportionate (even the veto) power, and the sanction of two separate states, for which should the Greek Cypriots opt? The answer, of course, is neither! What the Cypriots must do is to seek, and shore up, the support of kindred spirits, especially, the European Union, of which Cyprus is a member. Greece's support is obviously very crucial to the Republic of Cyprus. Will foreign minister, Petros Molyviatis, assume a leading role in that direction, rather than being a passive by-stander, confined only in expressing fraternal solidarity, but not actually getting involved in the process?

To one's regret, that seems to have been Greek policy during the last years of Pasok's governance. The big question is: will it continue to be the policy of the present Greek government as well?


(Posted January 5, 2006)

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