Varoshia and Political Ineptitude!
The political heat is on – and it’s blazing hot! During the EU’s Special Foreign Affairs Summit in Brussels (October 1st – 2nd) both Cyprus and Greece have been politically outmanoeuvred and convinced to make a U-turn on their intentions to secure EU sanctions against Turkey. They failed to use the power of their veto to change the course of political events to their advantage in their national interests.
A unanimous decision during the previous EU Summit last June, the leaders agreed to enforce sanctions against Turkey at the October Summit. Both Greece and Cyprus anticipated the EU would finally take a stand against Turkey’s military provocations and support member-states.
It was not meant to be!
Driven by political and financial self-interests, some EU members refused to employ sanctions on Turkey this time around and decided for a postponement to December instead. Meanwhile a furious Erdoğan warned the European Union of “serious repercussions” if they dared to impose sanctions on Turkey in favour of pirate states – meaning Cyprus!
The main objective of the Leaders Summit was to secure sanctions against 40 Belarusian officials accused of vote rigging and political repression but not the President of Belarus; also EU/China relations and Turkey’s provocation in the Eastern Mediterranean. The threat of veto by the Greek alliance could seriously jeopardize EU plans–for without a unanimous decision there could be no sanctions!
The outcome of such a dissent would be a humiliating defeat for the bureaucratic institution.
The Greeks argued that a two-tier EU foreign policy could not be accepted in a democratic institution and insisted they will veto all proposed sanctions on Belarus unless Turkey also received the same treatment approved, at the June Summit. A stalemate ensued…
The threat of defeat was very real and political skulduggery commenced behind the scenes! Headed by Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel – a powerful ally of Turkey – and the European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen insisted that a unanimous vote for sanctions was critical at the Summit. Subsequently, the political arm-twisting against the Greek alliance escalated!
Fierce political haggling and juggling ensued behind the dark corridors of power, for they could not allow a small island to jeopardize their greater plans! But, little Cyprus–a small fry indeed–was quickly gobbled up by EU piranhas!
Germany holding the revolving EU presidency came up with a convincing plan for both Greece and Cyprus. But, for the plan to succeed, they needed a political deviation of sorts and persuaded Ankara to withdraw its illegal exploration drilling ship Oruç Reis from Greek waters.
The move would allow “negotiations” to start between Greece and Turkey and reduce the risk of a military conflict. Oruç Reis returned to Turkey for “maintenance purpose” but without any guarantees not to issue another NAVTEX and return if necessary.
Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis joined the political skulduggery set by Angela Merkel and agreed to abandon Greece’s veto on Belarus. Pleased with the result, Chancellor Merkel and Mitsotakis went on to influence President Anastasiades!
Presented with a cleverly worded EU statement without substance, soon tickled President Anastasiades’ ears and he too has forsaken the idea of a Cyprus veto.
The statement reassured him that: “The EU strongly condemns the violations of the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus and will review Turkey’s behaviour in December and impose sanctions if its provocations have not stopped.” It was also announced that “a five-party negotiations” to resolve the Cyprus issue would be scheduled under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
The door of the trap was then shut and little Cyprus opened the way for EU sanctions against Belarus.
A similar EU tactic was employed in the past when Cyprus decided to vote for sanctions (instead of abstaining) against Ukraine. The Anastasiades decision has triggered immediate retaliation by Russia and imposed trade sanctions against Cyprus.
In the absence of strong diplomacy, Cyprus has been manipulated yet again by the EU to become the victim of mightier political players!
No sooner the ink have time to dry on paper, Sultan Recep Tayyip Erdoğan feeling smug for escaping EU sanctions, went on the attack again and announced a bombshell: “Varoshia with its closed off beach area would be reopened and re-inhabited under Turkish Administration on the 8th of October 2020 and this is only the beginning!”
Erdoğan’s declaration for the occupation of Varoshia took the world by surprise but especially the government of Cyprus who were caught napping.
Another new NAVTEX was immediately issued by Ankara and the Oruç Reis went back to northwest of Kastellorizo in the Aegean to restart its provocations against Greece escalating the fears of a military standoff. Meanwhile the Barbaros drilling vessel, was re-diverted and ordered to continue its illegal activities deep inside Cyprus’s territorial waters in plots licensed by France and Italy.
Erdoğan has in fact made a mockery of the EU and the UN for trusting Turkey’s sly diplomacy in his attempt to avoid sanctions; and like a cunning fox he has certainly succeeded!
Under Attila Plan B, the opening of Varoshia by Erdoğan has now diminished all hopes for the reunification of Cyprus! The decision by Greece and Cyprus to abandon their powerful veto as political means to ensnare Turkey at the Summit has turned out to be political suicide.
On considering Erdoğan’s revelations, the UN Security Council (UNSC) responded immediately and called for a “reversal of the decision by Turkey to open the coastline in the fenced-off area of Varoshia and to adhere to UN Resolutions.”
Turkey has never respected a single UN Resolution in the past and was not about to start now, especially when it involves geopolitical interests and billions and billions of Cyprus’ natural gas revenues!
Meanwhile, the Cyprus government is faced with a dilemma–to negotiate or not to negotiate! To trust UN/EU or not! Not to negotiate under a “five-party negotiations” also brings new dangers! Cyprus could be entering a one-way maze without a way out and be confronted with another fait accompli. A dilemma indeed!
The Cyprus Government’s decision to abandon its veto during the Summit to compel the EU and impose trade sanctions against Turkey, exhibited short sightedness and a half-hearted diplomacy.
Instead, the President tried to justify his decision to the country as to why it was necessary to make a U-Turn at the last minute. Mr Anastasiades mumbled his way explaining that: “the Cyprus objective at the EU Summit had never been sanctions in themselves but the termination of Turkey’s illegal actions”.
Clearly that strategy did not work and failed miserably but did offer Erdoğan the opportunity for occupying and opening Varoshia.
After 46 years the ghost town of Varoshia will come back to life again under Turkey’s control and populated by wealthy Turkish nationals from the mainland. Since no gambling is allowed in Turkey, Varoshia will be transformed into the “Las Vegas of the Med” and become once again the playground of the rich and famous under the very noses of the Greeks.
As for the thousands of Varoshiotes and refugees longing to return to their ancestral homes, that possibility now appears gravely remote. It seems that Varoshia not only has been abandoned by the United Nations, (after passing 2547 resolutions condemning Turkey’s invasion and human rights violations) by the European Union, but also by the Cyprus government that has so far failed to deal with Turkey’s aggression.
Consequently, after the October 18 Turkish Cypriot election results, things would never be the same again. Erdoğan has personally made sure that a separatist candidate supported by the terrorist Grey Wolves group was elected to office. When balloting was over, 53% of the Turkish Cypriots and Turkish settlers, voted for a “two-state-solution” led by their nationalist new leader Ersin Tatar and Ankara’s latest puppet!
Meanwhile, Sultan Erdoğan has warned everyone that: “he would do what he wishes in the Eastern Mediterranean and nobody can stop him and will chop anyone’s hand if they try to get in his way”. Such intimidations are suited to a bully and a thug and certainly not to a leader of another country!
With Ankara’s Neo-Islamic threats and military provocations in the region, the Republic of Cyprus now faces an uncertain future indeed…
Andreas C Chrysafis is a UK published author of five books, over 400 press articles and a recognized Saatchi artist. He is not political affiliated but a strong advocate for Democracy, Transparency, Equality, Human Rights and a strong opponent to corruption. His latest historical novel, “Aphrodite’s Sacred Virgins” makes interesting reading.