By George Gregoriou
The “Cyprus problem” is on the table, off the table, dead, and resuscitated. It was actually never buried. When it was announced that UN envoy Prendergast will make his rounds (Nicosia, Athens, and Ankara) to start the negotiations a cold chill ran down my spine. It wasn’t a Nietzschean reaction of “melancholy of things completed”. It is true that the Cyprus struggle gave a sense of “meaning” to Greek Cypriot lives . But every time these thoughts come to mind I always think of those who left not only the struggle but life itself with the melancholy of “a struggle not completed”. Could there be a solution, this time? One cannot be sure.
These trepidations are real, the legacy of things going from bad to worse, of broken promises and disappointments. Each offer for a Cyprus settlement before the 1959 Zurich/London Agreements or after was unacceptable, later on romanticized as another of those lost opportunities. Greek Cypriots agree that the 1959 Zurich and London Agreements was a bad and unworkable settlement, which collapsed in 1963-1964. Even then, President Tassos Papadopoulos, an opponent of the Zurich solution, stated that considering the post-1974 realities, the 1959 settlement was more acceptable.
The genie is out of the bottle. We are in 2005. We must try to salvage what is possible. What is possible cannot be separated from the realities. Which are: the Turkification of the occupied north has been in existence since 1974. Every trace of Greek Cypriot presence for thousands of years has been eradicated, including memory; throngs of settlers are still invading the occupied north, mostly to provide cheap labor for builders and developers (Turks, British, German (or as front men for Turks)) on Greek Cypriot land; the Kofi Annan Plan, the basis for the next round of talks, provides for monetary compensation and the return of some refugees.
The compensation, will it be in pre-war values, or the millions of euros being amassed now in the latest frenzy by speculators and developers? What if a Greek or Turkish Cypriot refugee does not want any form of compensation, except to return to his/her home? And if that refugee did return, what kind of an environment would receive him, hostile or hospitable? In short, who will benefit from the Kofi Annan Plan? The few or the many?
The Kofi Annan Plan (or the plan of the Anglo-American-Turkish axis) does not offer a viable solution. It offers a new patch-work arrangement to get rid of the Cyprus problem, with the effects of the occupation and Turkification in place. Will the military presence of outside forces (Greek, Turkish, and British) ever end? Why would Karpasia be under Turkish control (Annan¹s first plan)? Turkey demanded it, for security reasons. How would the 70 million Turks in Anatolia be threatened by 650,000 unarmed Greek Cypriots inside the EU? If political power is to be shared by the 18% (now 10%) Turkish Cypriots with the 82% Greek Cypriots on a 50-50 basis, with vetoes at all levels of the projected federal state, and a territorial partition on 30-70 basis, is that a viable solution? Who makes up all these percentages? They seem to be curved in stone and way out of the historical realities. Of course, it is the Turkey and the Anglo-Americans (the axis powers) who manufactured these new realities. These political arrangements do not conform with EU/UN legalities and human rights. They are based on force majeure. But, Cyprus is in the EU. How are these legions of conflicts to be settled, according to EU legalities or the “imposed” terms of settlement? There will be no end in sight.
What is also troubling is the Ofratricite¹ among the Greek Cypriots, the 76% who said “no” to the referendum in April 2004 and those who said “yes”. The “war of words” is relentless, with wild accusations flying in both directions. Papadopoulos has been under attacked, with no let up, since April 2004: “he does not want a solution in order to remain president for five more years; its a power thing; we are back to EOKA times, with nationalism raging”. “Those who voted “yes” in 2004 are “traitors”, interested only in getting money, compensations, or their land back. It’s a selfish thing, not patriotism. They will get something in the Kofi Annan settlement. They are angry. Everything is taken over by foreigners, real estate investors, and developers”.
The fissures inside the Greek Cypriot community in Cyprus will get worse as the terms of settlement are put on the table with this message:
“take it or leave it”. This is it. It is true that the spaces not developed in the occupied north are becoming fewer and fewer. Construction is going on day and night, even on weekends the construction goes on. Obscene money is accumulated by speculators and investors. Nothing will be left for the legal owners, the refugees. This “war of words” is manifested in the media, newspaper editorial, TV discussions, in coffee shops, at home.
It is also true that if the Greek Cypriots reject a settlement for a second time, they will be told they do not want a solution! Other voices are heard: the alternative is a permanent partition of Cyprus. It gets worse.
The Greek Cypriots will have no place to go and no one to turn to. They are alone inside the EU. The Costas Karamanlis government is in trouble, busy blaming PASOK for all its problems, and “kissing up” to Washington, trying to outdo Ankara as the best friend and ally of the United States. This policy did not work since World War II. Cyprus is the mirror reflecting this failure, including the turbulent history and costs in Cyprus and Greece. It is reflected in Washington¹s policy today. But the nephew is haunted by the legacy of his uncle. A Karamanlis II failure will be catastrophic. Athens may be tired of the Cyprus problem, and wants out. But the Greek people do not forget, not even 1453.
Official Athens does not seem to get it. Greece has been and will continue to be Osecond¹ to Turkey in the US geopolitical strategy to control the Eastern Mediterranean. To get a “hearing” in Washington, even some traction, Athens has to make it clear that “normal” relations with Washington and Turkey¹s EU trajectory require an acceptable and viable solution to the Cyprus problem, a Cyprus without military forces on its soil, and a Cyprus where human rights are guaranteed to all Cypriots, Greeks and Turks.
A fair and viable solution, acceptable to both sides, will help unify Cyprus. This is the wish of ordinary Greeks and Turks on both sides of the Green Line. A bad solution, favoring one side over the other, will be a new beginning for more violence and a permanent crises between the Greeks and Turks of Cyprus, and Greece and Turkey, inside and outside the European Union. It will be agreed to only under the threat of a gun or fear of worse to come, for the benefit of those who want to control the destiny of the island, for nationalistic, militaristic, and expansionist reasons. The well-being of all Cypriots, Greeks and Turks, in a democratic society inside the European Union is the only project worthy of consideration and signatures.
Professor, Critical Theory & Geopolitics
Department of Political Science
The William Paterson University
Wayne, New Jersey 07470