Turkey’s invasion and occupation of Cyprus – July 20, 1974

Cyprus Turkey Cypriot 1974

Cyprus is about to face one of its most critical political dilemmas ever, one that could determine its existence as an independent sovereign state or not. Could Cyprus succumb to outside pressure and accept Turkey’s proposal for a two-state solution? Most doubtful but if it does, it will mark the end of the ancient Hellenic island of Cyprus.

Anastasiades’ foreign policy on dealing with Turkey’s 1974 military invasion and occupation has so far been lukewarm! Over time, the Turkish invasion has been overlooked under the delusion that the EU and others would take an active role and help Cyprus get rid of the Turkish troops; the main reason it joined the EU in the first place!

Meanwhile, Sultan Erdogan plans to reveal a big surprise during his illegal visit to the island this month. He will finally expose his trump card during the July 20th celebrations of Attila’s victory over the Greeks; his message will likely send shockwaves across the globe!

Indifferent to world opinion, Erdogan does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus and as always does what he likes. His declarations for sure will throw Cyprus into a political spin and playing catch up (as always) to overturn Erdogan’s new realities!

It has been known that shaking hands with this man one soon discovers a few fingers missing and can never be trusted. Anastasiades on the other hand, has been gullible and made a string of concessions to appease the EU, the Turkish Cypriots including the UN. Cyprus’s foreign policy has in fact backfired and failed to reach reunification between the two communities. It is a known fact that one does not negotiate with bullies such as Turkey because they always come back for more and in the end, there are no fingers left!

Tears of Famagusta by Andreas C. Chrysafis.
Tears of Famagusta by Andreas C. Chrysafis.

With the exception of rhetoric, the governments of Greece and Cyprus have been unable to deal effectively with Turkey’s relentless aggression in the Aegean or the occupation of Cyprus and Cyprus’ EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone). Instead, their weak foreign policy has intensified Turkey’s belligerence.

Actually, the Anastasiades government appeared more interested on maintaining good relations with the spineless EU and the UN rather than investing in a strong free thinking foreign and defence policy for Cyprus. Independent think-tanks in Cyprus are non-existent in comparison to progressive nations that use them to forge successful policies and solve problems! The ancient Greeks in fact consulted Delphi (the original think-tank of its kind) before making critical decisions! Not so today – politicians know everything!

Ironically, the Cyprus President has often threatened to use Cyprus’s EU veto to force Turkey negotiate in good faith but has never done so yet! Other times, he warns not to participate on future UN-sponsored negotiations unless Turkey stops its provocations; instead he makes a U-turn! At the same time, he pacifies the Turkish Cypriots on the basis of EU “free-movement” by reopening the crossings to facilitate foreign tourists visiting the occupied area via Larnaca airport; such logic puzzles the mind of sanity and common sense…

Cyprus applied a wishy-washy foreign policy for years and it’s no wonder Turkey has been able to juggle the Greeks like a cat juggling a mouse in the air before the final good kill – Tuesday, July 20, may reveal grave consequences for the island!

As a matter of urgency, the Sultan dispatched his vice-president Mr Fuat Oktay and his foreign minister Mr Mevlut Cavusoglu on a working visit to the so-called “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (TRNC). There they met “officials” including the Turkish Cypriot community leader Mr Ersin Tatar—Ankara’s nationalist puppet—to plan and make lavish preparations for Erdogan’s grandiose illegal visit.

It is expected that President Erdogan will announce a bombshell: (a) Varoshia/Famagusta to be declared as Turkish and not Greek, (b) declare the occupied north of Cyprus (40%) an Islamic Turkish Cypriot state and protected under Erdogan’s Neo-Ottoman empire, and (c) claim that 50% of Cyprus gas-reserves are owned by Turkish Cypriots! Supported by his mighty Turkish army, he would not ask but impose his own “final solution” of the Cyprus problem!

If that happens, the permanent partition and Muslimization of the occupied northern part of the island will become irreversible – fait accompli!

The President of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen after the EU Summit on June 25 gave a soft slap to Turkey (instead of sanctions) and announced that the EU would “never-never” accept a “two-state” solution. She also repeated those same words on her official visit to Cyprus this week. President Anastasiades expressed his “satisfaction” with her declaration ignoring the fact that such public statements have been said many times before without substance.

Tears of Keryneia by Andreas C. Chrysafis.
Tears of Keryneia by Andreas C. Chrysafis.

Out of the ashes of political despair a sliver of hope emerged with France and the USA announcing a positive development; they made a commitment to undertake the military protection of their drilling vessels including Cyprus EEZ! In November/December of this year, drilling will start again in block 10 by the American company ExxonMobil including others; hence the Franco/American joint declaration!

That’s a significant political development for Cyprus and a direct message to Turkey that the Western Alliance can no longer tolerate Turkey’s bullying tactics as they did in the past when the Italian ENI Exploration vessel was forced to withdraw in fear of an imminent Turkish military attack against the vessel.

At the moment, everyone is anxious to see Sultan Erdogan’s trump card on July 20th! Meanwhile, every party connected with the Cyprus issue is holding their breath.

One thing is for certain: if Erdogan is not stopped, there are turbulent times ahead not only for the Republic of Cyprus but also for the entire Eastern Mediterranean! If Turkey starts to use the occupied north of Cyprus as a military and a naval base and flexing its warmongering muscles, the region would never be the same again.

The very old cliché is truer today than ever before: nobody helps those that refuse to help themselves!

Andreas C. Chrysafis is an author, artist and writer.

Guest Contributor

This piece was written for Greek City Times by a Guest Contributor