Bluff or are Erdoğan's intentions the rumours about the annexation of occupied Cyprus to Turkey

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

That Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will be in the Occupied Territories of Cyprus on July 20 for the anniversary of the 1974 invasion does not surprise anyone.

It is not the first time, just as it is not the first time that there are no rumours, if not targeted leaks from Ankara, about his intention to make important announcements.

The rumours that bring him to announce the annexation of the occupied territories of Cyprus to Turkey are not easy to cross, but it is also not easy to "read" the mind of the Turkish president, who has proven to be unpredictable.

There are many times, when with his movements, he tests what we would christen "common sense".

Especially in this period, with polls showing a collapse in his approval rating, a loss of popularity, a questioning of his options and a possible loss of power, he looks like a losing gambler trying to ref, risking and bluffing his way through.

Attachment but how?

The strong rumours circulating between Turkey, the pseudo-state of Northern Cyprus and Washington for the annexation of 37% of the Cypriot territory to Turkey, as observers in Nicosia estimate, may constitute a volley of intentions of the international actor.

At the same time, it is not excluded that they aim at the internal public opinion of Turkey, which is suffering from inflation and the inability of the citizens to make ends meet by covering their daily needs.

No one can dispute that the carpet is already laid, with the straw man Ersin Tatar, leading the Turkish Cypriots, as a Turkish prefect. At the same time, the "Turkey-pseudo-state cooperation protocol" creates the basis for the integration of the pseudo-state as part of Turkish territory, with a confederation model, maintaining the so-called "independence" of the so-called "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus".

However, this is an act of acrobatics, which, beyond the international community, will serve against the interests of Turkish Cypriots themselves, who will lose the prospect of living as European citizens, a status they enjoy today as citizens of the Republic of Cyprus .

Do it like Putin

The annexation of occupied Ukrainian Crimea to Russia, with the mock referendum held by Moscow, sets a precedent. A model, which cannot be ruled out for Erdoğan to exploit, believing that the reactions of the international actor will be correspondingly lukewarm to those of 2014 against Russia.

But there are two very important differences. The Turkish Cypriots are not fully controlled and perhaps the result will disappoint Erdoğan, but also occupied Cyprus is EU territory, in which the application of the acquis has simply been suspended due to the occupation.

The opening of part of the closed city of Famagusta (Varoshia) was the experiment that encouraged Turkey, since both the UN, the EU and the USA remained only in the realm of verbal condemnations.

If Erdoğan pursues the next step by annexing all the occupied territories, given the climate created by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he may experience some surprises.

Half a century

The 48 years since the 1974 invasion have, in fact, led to the consolidation of situations that are even recognised in decisions made by the European Court of Human Rights, particularly in cases claiming the return of Greek Cypriot properties (Dimopoulos v. Turkey Decision).

Also, the failure of all efforts to resolve the Cyprus problem through the UN procedures makes it easier for Ankara to insist on the narrative of ending the search for a federation solution and opting for the acceptance of two states, with the recognition of "sovereign equality" for the Turkish Cypriots.

This position does not find resonance internationally, but it also does not find a reaction capable of persuading Turkey to back down and return to the negotiating table after the wreck site that was Crans Montana.

Even if Erdoğan does not proceed with annexation steps on July 20, he has put before the international community a demand, which "ripens" with time and with the gradual Turkification of the occupied territories.

The presence of troops, settlers from Anatolia who are becoming the majority, and the infrastructure projects that create dependence on Turkey, are tools that methodically build the definitive division of the island.

Tatar's proposals

Faced with the impossibility of re-starting the negotiations, Nicosia proposed a package of Confidence Building Measures that could serve as a reference point for the re-warming of intercommunal dialogue between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.

The Confidence Building Measures mainly concern the port of occupied Famagusta and the operation of the illegal airport of Tympos.

The Turkish side rejected the proposed measures without discussion and counter-suggested the adoption of moves along the lines of "two states" cooperation, obviously knowing that there will be no acceptance from the Greek Cypriot side.

The Turkish-inspired Tatar proposals, in reality, do not only mean recognition of the pseudo-state but also acceptance of Turkey's role in the future of Cyprus, with the creation of conditions of dependency and the free areas.

Obviously, the Turkish side also did not expect their acceptance, but managed to raise them, considering that they will function as an alibi for flexibility, but also as part of a wider discussion that will take place at some stage.

The elections are on hold

In Nicosia, any (non) developments in the Cyprus issue have almost left the pre-election agenda of discussions.

No one expects that there can be serious steps to complete the talks process until February 2023, when the term of office of Nikos Anastasiadis ends.

The personalities who have announced their candidacy for the presidency of the Republic of Cyprus, in their public interventions, have not formulated proposals that would be able to break the deadlock, which leads to the conclusion of managing a situation, which there is no chance of changing at least within the next few months.

Manolis Kalatzis is a a regular contributor to Proto Thema.

READ MORE: Dendias briefs U.S. House of Representatives officials on Turkish provocations.

Guest Contributor

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