The Never-Ending Cyprus Problem

Along with the irresolute problem of Middle East peace – an oxymoron second only to Greek Worker or Honest Politician – there is no more tedious news story than the vexing problem of reunifying Cyprus, which has been split since an unlawful 1974 invasion by Turkey.

The Turks are still there, occupying the northern 30 percent, a dreary little faux Republic only they recognize and need a standing army to make sure there’s no attempt to take back what isn’t theirs.

The ghost city of Varosha, with 1974 abandoned cars still in showrooms, and empty hotels and buildings, is a reminder of the detritus left behind by the complicit agreement of the United States, courtesy of Henry Kissinger, winner of the Nobel War Prize, and the United Kingdom, to let Turkey land without any resistance from the international community.

Bringing together Cypriots and Turks on the same island, now mortal enemies, has evaded many diplomats and officials who thought they could just jawbone a resolution, including Kofi Annan, whose 2004 plan – revised five times – to unify the island was to keep it separate with two states.

That’s rather like continuing segregation in the United States while declaring the country unified, but the Turks were so desperate to gain any kind of legitimacy to their illegitimacy that 65 percent of them supported it in a referendum.

Only 24 percent of Cypriots did, which told you need to know about jury-rigged schemes by incompetent politicians who don’t have a clue how to solve any problem – which is their intent or they’d be out of business.

The reason no one has been able to solve this conundrum is because it can’t be solved without selling out the Cypriots, which the UN, US, UK, NATO and European Union would dearly love to do so Turkey would be appeased, become a member of the EU and kick billions into the coffers of Brussels so politicians could keep traveling first-class and stay at five-star hotels.

As the late, great physicist Richard Feynman said, you can fix radios by thinking, and break problems down to their simplest common denominators. For Cyprus it amounts to this: imagine someone invaded your home and has been occupying the top floor for 40 years and now comes a mediator who suggests the answer is to let them stay there but pay you a couple of bucks.

Former Cypriot President Demetris “Commie” Christofias was driven out of office for sheer incompetence, along with his inability to gain a single inch of progress in non-talks with Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, a hardliner who won’t even listen to arguments that aren’t his.

As Zorba said, “On a deaf man’s door you can knock forever,” and the only sound current Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades will hear when he knocks on Eroglu’s door when they resume talks on Feb. 11 is an echo.

Only a month ago, Anastasiades declared the talks dead after meeting Eroglu for dinner and looking him in the face to see the fish eye. Now Anastasiades, as was Christofias, is being snookered into thinking this guy is serious about anything other than growing Turkish dominion on Cyprus, not compromise.

If the Turks didn’t buy Christofias’ cockeyed ideas, including letting a Turk be President of Cyprus every other year, then they aren’t going to accept anything that requires concession or conciliation.

This problem is so frustrating that the UN’s envoy, Alexander Downer, who occasionally jetted to Nicosia, first-class, said a few words to both sides, had a couple of photo ops and took off knowing he was spitting into the wind, has thrown up his hands and quit, joining a long line of failed negotiators.

One of the reasons that Anastasiades will fail is that he’s just a politician out of touch with the people too, although he may be hoping that the passage of time means today’s young Cypriots don’t remember all the dead and missing Cypriots – many taken to Turkey and still unaccounted for. That should be the first topic on the table but it’s been forgotten because the dead don’t matter.

After the crushing defeat of the Annan Plan, an academic study of voter attitudes found it was an easier call than predicting a Greek defense minister will steal from defense contracts. The conclusion was that it was doomed to rejection because it was developed through an “ill-designed process of secret diplomacy” which disregarded the views of the Cypriot public.

There are many people willing to give in to the Turks and accept any kind of half-baked compromise just for the sake of doing so. They often point out that you can’t fix history and that the invasion is over, but they’re usually the same ones who call Istanbul by its ancient name of Constantinople, which then should be a stopover on the way to Persia.

If you’re not willing to forget what happened in 1453, you shouldn’t forget what happened in 1974 because dealing with the Turks is like trusting a slimeball like Mark Zuckerberg, who screwed his own Harvard roommate and Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin for the sake of money and because he thought he could do it.

Saverin told Zuckerberg something Anastasiades should study to get ready for the negotiations. “You’d better lawyer up … because I’m not coming back for 30 percent. I’m coming back for EVERYTHING.”