Will Greece fail as a state

Europe's last divided state: the Cyprus question

The reasons for the fiasco are being discussed in Cyprus, Greece and Turkey

The time after the failure of the informal meeting of the 5 + 1 round on the Cyprus issue is the time for the preparation of the next meeting. The reasons for the fiasco are being discussed in Cyprus, Greece and Turkey. Cyprus, whose northern part has been under Turkish occupation since 1974, is Europe's last divided state. Officially, the northern part of the island belongs to the territory of the EU, but is not controlled by it.

With the failure of the most recent negotiations under the aegis of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, there are increasing signs that the only possible solution sought by the Turkish side is a division into two states for each of the ethnic groups.

This possible solution also seems to favor the British as one of the three guarantee powers of the island republic. A report by the Turkish service caused a stir on the Greek side BBC World Service. There it was stated that the United Kingdom Foreign Minister Dominic Raab had proposed in Geneva that Greek and Turkish Cypriots should recognize each other as separate territories.

In this solution, Northern Cyprus would then continue to be part of the EU, but according to Raab it should not be recognized internationally. The state news agency of Cyprus issued a similar statement from the United Kingdom Foreign Office. "The UK believes that a bi-zonal, bi-communal association is a broad enough framework for both sides to achieve their respective goals," it says here.

The maximum goal of Cyprus' President Nikos Anastasiadis, a reunification of the island, seems increasingly unlikely. In the months leading up to the Geneva meeting, there was Cyprus on television at the broadcaster RIK numerous political discussions in which the islanders were prepared for such a scenario.

Nobody really wanted to say it, but in paraphrases it kept coming through that at the end of numerous negotiations about the future of the island, there could be a manifestation of the division.

The Cyprus Act

In her contribution from May 14th, Elke Dangeleit listed a number of reasons why the individual parties are so divided: No solution to the Cyprus question in sight.

In addition to the historical burden, there is the dispute over the natural gas reserves in the Aegean Sea. Occurrences in which, in addition to the Cypriots, the island's three guarantee powers are interested. Great Britain holds an exclave on the island, which paradoxically was not part of the EU when the United Kingdom was a member of the EU, but in which the euro is accepted as payment. The British derive rights of use for the natural gas deposits from this exclave.

Turkey has occupied the northern part of the island since 1974, when the military dictatorship in Greece at the time gave it a perfect occasion with a coup it initiated with the help of the USA.

One of the many details that complicate negotiations is that the Greek public has not yet been fully informed about what happened in 1974. The so-called Cyprus Act, "o fakelos tis Kyprou", is a document that is kept under lock and key.

The weaknesses of the Greek negotiating partners

On July 24, 1974 Konstantinos Karamanlis was brought back to Greece from his exile in Paris. The failed dictators handed power over to the later founder of the Nea Dimokratia, who took over the government as prime minister. In the midst of the military conflict over the island republic, Karamanlis gave a shock to the Greeks, who had hoped for Greek assistance for Cyprus, that "the armed confrontation of the Turks in Cyprus became impossible both because of the distance and because of the known events. And it could not have been tried without the risk of weakening this defense of Greece. "

Turkey had already occupied Kyrenia and began negotiations in Geneva while violating the ceasefire agreement by occupying Lapithos and Karavas and reinforcing the occupying army with new tanks and a new army. The negotiations finally failed and the Turks occupied thirty-six percent of the Cypriot territory after another offensive.

The "Great Ethnarch", as Karamanlis is called by his followers, decided, after strong pressure from his generals, that Greece could not bear the burden of a campaign leaving Cyprus. Karamanlis refrained from visiting the island republic all his life. Karamanli's political stance and anti-communism had already led to tensions between him and the later President of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios, during the independence negotiations of Cyprus from the United Kingdom in 1959. Makarios introduced Cyprus into the non-aligned community.

It was Makario's dislike of the colonels' dictatorship, which ruled Athens from 1967-74, which led to the coup against him. In a letter dated July 2, 1974, Makarios had requested the withdrawal of the Greek officers from the island. On July 15, there was a coup d'├ętat against him. He escaped a planned assassination. The landing of Turkish troops on July 20, 1974 was covered by the guarantee treaty for the independence of Cyprus because of the coup.

Even before the coup, the colonels in Athens had taken steps to annex the island republic to Greece. The dictators had converted the first division of Cyprus into a kind of third season of the Greek second division from the 1967/68 season. The champions of Cyprus rose to the first Greek league. The champions of both countries played a cup competition, the "Cup of Greater Greece", among themselves.

With the fall of the colonels, the specter ended just at the time when, with FC APOEL Nicosia, a team from Cyprus managed to stay in the Greek first division for the first time.

A judicial review of the events surrounding the coup, but also the obvious plans of the colonels to incorporate the island republic in Greece, did not take place. Officially, in order not to allow Turkey to exploit the events for propaganda purposes. From a real-political point of view, it should be clear to all those involved that Turkey is well aware of the individual processes. Thus, only the population of the participating states is kept in the dark.

"They say differently in public and they discuss other things," headlines the Cypriot newspaper Politis an article on the subject. In it, the author Kostas Konstantinou argues, even before the negotiations, that a two-state solution is likely. Konstantinou quotes:

A diplomatic source told us that this path may now be the only possible one and that it may be the lowest common denominator identified by the UN. It is a course, he added, with many risks and probably not within what we consider to be the agreed framework on the Cyprus issue. Except that, given the distance that separates the two parties, this framework no longer exists except in resolutions and declarations. In relation to the discussion based on this course, which creates rights for the future secession of the Turkish Cypriots, the question arises: what does the Greek Cypriot side prefer? The risk of a velvety, consensual divorce after or an abrupt falling out right now, with all that entails?

Kostas Konstantinou

The problems of the New Democracy

One of the great traumas of the Nea Dimokratia, which is still in power today, is that, as a national-conservative party, it was unable to combine its often nationalist narrative with real political success. For the Nea Dimokratia there are several construction sites on the nationalist terrain, which it served with full hands for the 2019 election victory. Mitsotakis and Co railed against the compromise in the decades-long name dispute between Greece and North Macedonia.

The Prime Minister of North Macedonia, Zoran Zaev, visited Greece last week. The government and the politicians of the New Democrats avoided naming North Macedonia as much as possible. The government's official program only said that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will meet with Prime Minister Zoran Zaev. It is noticeable that it was only in the case of Zaev that the state from which the visitor came was omitted.

Politicians of the New Democracy literally floundered around when they were asked about it on television. They named the country "neighboring state" and said that Mitsotakis had met the premier of the neighboring state. This fear, reminiscent of the Harry Potter novel series, of avoiding a simple naming with "you already know which state" actions amused the opposition. At the same time, however, it shows how little leeway the Greek government has on issues of national interest.

For the entire Greek press, including the newspaper that is close to the opposition in Greece Efimerida ton syntacton (EfSyn), it is nevertheless clear that the talks to solve the Cyprus question were driven to "the Turkish wall". The EfSyn, which is otherwise like a second party newspaper next to the Avgi, takes over the positions of Syriza and attacks the Greek government, fully accepts the position of Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias on Cyprus, who also stressed last Tuesday how much the Turkish side is responsible for the failure of the negotiations.

Cyprus President Nikos Anastasiadis takes the same positions in a letter to the UN Secretary General and the UN Security Council in which he explains the reasons for the failure of the negotiations.

The Greek Communist Party (KKE), on the other hand, sees the failed negotiations and the subsequent negotiations only as a discussion of how the division of the island into two states will be organized. It provides, as in the party organ Rizospastis published, shows that in the long term a pro forma federal solution or a direct division, as requested by the Turkish side, will be the result of the negotiations.

For the KKE, the mineral resources in the Aegean Sea and the "shared use" favored by the USA are the catalyst for the division of the island. Even in the event of a federal solution, the KKE sees a separation of the Turkish-occupied northern part in the end.

The sister party of the KKE, the AKEL, accuses the incumbent President of Cyprus that his policies have paved the way for the division of the island. In the opinion of the AKEL, there would be a guarantee of peaceful coexistence for everyone in an equal federal state for all ethnic groups on the island.

Cyprus domestic problems

Anastasiadis was one of the few supporters of the so-called Annan Plan to resolve the Cyprus conflict in the referendum on April 24, 2004. At that time, he was in favor of the state solution and saw the maximum demand of the majority of Greek Cypriots as a threat to the continued existence of Cyprus.

This is still held up against him in large parts of the Greek-language press. Statements such as the statement he made in 2020 that Cyprus has no military chance against Turkey are always criticized with reference to Anastasiadi's attitude to the Annan Plan.

Domestically, Anastasiadis is badly hit. Due to the scandal surrounding the so-called "golden citizenships", with which criminals could buy a Cypriot passport and thus asylum and access to the EU, the state budget for 2021 failed. The parliament was dissolved and on May 30th early elections take place.

In contrast to the Cypriot side, Turkey, together with the northern part of Cyprus, which it recognizes as a state, can refer to an undivided, uniform negotiating position. Turkey has made it clear that it will adhere to its positions in further negotiations. (Wassilis Aswestopoulos)

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