An assessment of Turkish arrogance towards the Republic of Cyprus

Contributed by Protesilaos Stavrou
Blog: protes-stavrou
Ridiculous Turkish threats only aim at maintaining the status quo. Turkey cannot win anything else out of this and a war would have unpleasant consequences for Turkish interests. Turkey has been producing a lot of noise lately with respect to a number of actions taken by the Republic of Cyprus regarding its sovereign power over its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and its upcoming EU Presidency on the second half of 2012.

With respect to the Republic of Cyprus’ EEZ, Turkey cannot win anything out of this, unless the leadership in Cyprus, Greece, Israel abandon their rights, since Turkey has not signed the Treaty that rules the EEZ principles (and thus has no power on the matter) and because the Republic of Cyprus is a sovereign state recognized by all international organizations and thus Turkey is not allowed to intervene. The Republic of Cyprus is also part of the EU and has entered the Union as a whole island with sovereignty over the whole of Cyprus. Furthermore Turkish military presence in Cyprus is illegal, both by principles of international law and by the Treaty of Guarantee itself. Moreover Turkey cannot go to war currently to coercively attempt to get what she wants, since this will be a war of attrition between Greece-Turkey-Cyprus-Israel (and the British military bases on Cyprus), while also the front in South-Eastern Turkey (Kurdish territory) and the border with Syria are volatile, thus Turkey will risk to lose much more than she will attempt to gain.

A war in the Eastern Mediterranean is very hard to be won (the Greek fleet maintains preponderant power in the Aegean) and the Kurds will find the opportunity to intensify their struggle for a sovereign state, leaving Turkey overstretched with a two-front war. A war would be a very unwise move by Turkey and I personally uphold that she will not take that path down to her own uncertainty. Hence I uphold that Turkey is willing to gain as much as possible on the diplomatic field.

Turkish foreign policy and aggressiveness aim at maintaining the status quo in the Eastern Mediterranean and is moving along two main axes both based on the fact that she does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus (a European State with which she indirectly negotiates every time she discusses accession to the EU). On one hand to cut the EEZ of Cyprus from being unified with the Greek, by threatening Greece with casus belli if she declares her EEZ. And on the other to have a say on the oil and gas reserves that exist south of Cyprus to first prevent an effective cooperation between Cyprus-Greece-Israel (that would bring the balance of power in favor of the three and against Turkish interests), second to demand a share from the exploitations, third to justify the otherwise unjustifiable practice of maintaining war vessels south of Cyprus.

Should Greece declare her EEZ would effectively cut every access Turkey has to the Mediterranean – it would confine Turkey on its land – and would imply that the EEZs of Greece-Cyprus-Israel will be effectively unified, composing a solid bloc that will exert immense influence in Eastern Mediterranean (include to this the excellent relations Greece and Cyprus maintain with the neighboring Arab states). It is to the vital interest of Turkey to prevent this from happening since it would render impossible her ambitions to increase her influence in the area and would put an end to her demands of co-exploiting the natural resources on the depths of the Aegean with Greece.

Additionally should Cyprus effectively exploit its oil reserves, would weaken Turkish demands on the peace negotiations on the island. Here we should distinguish between the rightful claims of Turkish Cypriots to live in peace on the island with their compatriots the Greek-Cypriots and Turkey’s interventionist policy that exploits the presence of Turkish-Cypriots to forward her expansionist agenda. The well-being of Turkish Cypriots is completely neglected by Turkey. The well-being and the future of Turkish Cypriots exists in a unified Cyprus within the EU.

Turkey is in a very weak position now, despite all the noise and the megalomaniac threats in Cyprus and the Aegean. The best thing that Turkey can gain out of this is the temporary continuation of the status quo. The tectonic plates in the Eastern Mediterranean have decisively shifted against Turkish interests and against the much vaunted, yet utterly groundless ambitions of Turkish Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu’s “strategic depth” (Mr. Davutoglu has written a book about Turkish foreign policy, which apart from the academic principles of international relations and things that are found in every textbook on the field, is filled with all sorts of assumptions and theories that are detached from reality and constitute more of propaganda than serious analysis).

Turkey must realize the foolishness of maintaining her hostile stance vis a vis her neighbors. The future of Turkey will be prosperous if her leadership realizes the opportunities stemming from mutual respect and cooperation in her neighborhood. The stance Turkey currently has is self-defeating and will only make Turkey weaker in the long run as her influence will gradually shrink if the leaders in Greece, Cyprus, Israel cling to – and implement – their rights. Turkey must abandon her ridiculous claims on Cyprus and the Aegean. The Eastern Mediterranean will be a place of prosperity and peaceful coexistence if Turkey abandons the unacceptable policies she currently exercises. As for the EU Presidency of the Republic of Cyprus in 2012, Turkish officials only project naivety and arrogance when they threaten EU itself.


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