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Columnists

What About Cyprus

March 28, 2022
By Theodore Karakostas

I was a student studying political science and history when Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990. I remember the outrage of the world community and the demands that Iraq unconditionally withdraw its troops from Kuwait. The administration of the elder George Bush proceeded to go to war with Iraq in order to drive the Iraqis from Kuwait. One of Washington’s partners was the Republic of Turkey during the Presidency of Turgut Ozal. The Turkish government was valued because it provided use of American bases for American troops to attack Iraq.

The hypocrisy and double standards of America and Europe was deafening then, and it is deafening now in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine – as is demonstrated by the continuing illegal occupation of Cyprus by NATO member Turkey.

The Turkish Army invaded Cyprus twice in the summer of 1974. It invaded on July 20,1974 under the pretext of opposing the Athens dictatorship’s coup of Cypriot President-Archbishop Makarios. In reality, Turkey seized the opportunity to fulfill expansionist plans that had been put forward as far back as 1955 when Greek Cypriot patriots sought to end the occupation of their island by Great Britain by uniting with Greece. In 1955, Turkey had formed a party called ‘Cyprus is Turkish’ despite the fact that Cyprus has had a Hellenic identity going back to classical times and a population that was eighty percent Greek.

On August 14, 1974Turkish forces invaded a second time and subsequently seized thirty seven percent of Cypriot territory and ethnically cleansed the occupied territories of 200,000 Greek Cypriots through murder, rape, and mass expulsions.

In order to liberate Kuwait in 1990, the United States collaborated with a government that had itself invaded and occupied another country and perpetrated war crimes. Throughout the 1990’s, the so called ‘free world’ got hysterical over Serbia. NATO took military action against the Bosnian Serbs in 1995, and in 1999 NATO bombed Serbia for close to three months under the guise of ending alleged Serbian aggression. The case of Yugoslavia is rather complex. Bosnia was barely independent when war broke out and Kosovo was still legally a part of Serbia when NATO bombed Belgrade.

Cyprus, however, was independent for fourteen years before the Turks invaded in 1974. The Republic of Cyprus gained independence in 1960 after the signing of the Treaties of Zurich, Guarantee, and London in 1959. The Greeks were undermined by the British who colluded with Turkey to diminish the new Republic. There is not enough space here to recount the criminal activities of the British in Cyprus which continue up to the present day.

Western hypocrisy now manifests itself over Ukraine. It has been nearly forty-eight years since Turkey invaded and occupied Cyprus. The Turks have brought in about 150,000 settlers from the Turkish mainland who have seized homes and property belonging to Greek refugees. They have destroyed over five hundred and fifty Greek Orthodox and Armenian churches and monasteries. Hellenic monuments have been destroyed – but there is nothing but indifference from the powerful of the world.

In 2002, another member of the Bush family along with another anti-Hellenic Englishman named Tony Blair tried to force the Republic of Cyprus to accept the Plan of United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan. The Annan Plan (as it came to be known) is a classic document of appeasement and sacrifice of a small and defenseless country. The Plan was conceived not long after Cyprus was admitted into the European Union and in my opinion Secretary General Annan consciously worked to eradicate even this small advantage that Cyprus might have over Turkey.

The Bush and Blair governments attempted to shove the Annan Plan down the throats of the Cypriots. Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos heroically refused to accept the Plan. Seventy six percent of the citizens in the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus rejected the Plan. The Plan was supposedly accepted in the Turkish occupied territories under the auspices of the Turkish military and the active participation of 150,000 Turkish settlers who were permitted to vote in that fraudulent referendum.

One must take note that Tony Blair’s wife is an attorney who has defended English citizens who reside in the Turkish occupied territories and have knowingly and wittingly taken over the homes and property that Greek Cypriots were forced to abandon in the aftermath of the Turkish invasions of 1974.

Here we are after nearly fifty years of invasion, occupation, and ethnic cleansing in Cyprus and no one seems to care less. The West needs a bogeyman from time to time, and they have found him in Vladimir Putin. The Ukrainian case further exposes western hypocrisy and appeasement.

NATO is a fraudulent alliance and does not function for defensive purposes. Turkey is a member of NATO and invaded the Republic of Cyprus, which has always been a member of the Non-aligned Movement. The bombing of Serbia in 1999 also demonstrates the myth that NATO is an alliance based on defense.

Like Cyprus, Greece is at a disadvantage owing to its membership in NATO, which has always valued Turkey much more that it has valued Greece. NATO has outright rejected demands from Prime Minister Mitsotakis that the ‘alliance’ support Greece in the face of the expansionist claims of Turkey.

The charter of NATO claims that an attack on one member is an attack on all members. Well, Turkey is openly putting forth claims to the Greek islands which international treaties conclusively demonstrate are part of the Hellenic Republic. There is no more support for Greece as a NATO member than there is for Cyprus, which is not a member of NATO.

NATO is a hypocritical alliance and if there is anything that the current crisis in Ukraine effectively demonstrates, it is that NATO exists for offensive and not defensive purposes. One can be opposed to the invasion of Ukraine and simultaneously recognize that NATO’s expansion to the Russian border unnecessarily exacerbated tensions.

It should be remembered that the Russians did provide important diplomatic support for Cyprus in 2004. The Russian Ambassador at the United Nations Security Council vetoed the Annan Plan which the American and British governments wanted to serve as the basis of a settlement for Cyprus. That plan would have maintained the Turkish occupation and would have deprived Greek Cypriots of basic human and civil rights by taking away their right to return to their homes and their freedom of movement.

Greece needs to think long and hard about its membership in NATO. There is much that could be said about NATO’s refusal to stop the Turks from ethnically cleansing the Greeks of Constantinople and the islands of Imbros and Tenedos during the 1950’s and 1960’s. The unpleasant reality is that international relations are based on the power and influence of the strong. Greece and Cyprus are small countries that are not considered important by their alleged allies. This is a dilemma that Greece and Cyprus are faced with.

The Republic of Turkey of Turgut Ozal thirty years ago was being praised for its modernity, secularism, and alleged democracy. Turkey has never been any of those things but it was possible for the western alliance to pretend. Under Erdogan, it is not possible to lie or to pretend that Turkey is anything other than a murderous aggressor. Turkey today openly aligns with jihadists and terrorists and is still considered by NATO to be a member in good standing.

Greece and Cyprus are faced with very few good options. At a very minimum they should abandon the fantasy that they have any friends or allies and proceed to redefine their foreign relations and how to proceed  in dealing with the Turkish threat. News reports indicate that Turkey is selling drones to Ukraine. Historically, when the Russians have been depicted as villainous in the West, support for Turkey against the bad Russians tends to grow. One need only examine the history of the outbreak of the Crimean War in 1853 to see how anti-Russian hysteria in Europe led to pro-Turkish sentiment and pro-Turkish policies.

As the Ukrainian crisis dominates headlines, this Greek has only one question. What about Cyprus?

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