End of the road for Cyprus

2 mins read

President Erdogan’s visit to the occupied north on Tuesday’s invasion anniversary will be like no other before it.

For the first time in a while, he will have a full deck of cards stacked up in his favour, having installed a hard-line loyalist as the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community.

Erdogan will address the Turkish Cypriot assembly, where he will lay out his plans for the final push towards full integration with mainland Turkey, despite the noises by opposition forces.

To enhance the impression of the nation’s saviour, Erdogan will be accompanied by the Grey Wolves ultranationalist party leader, a group tolerated by EU member states and the US for fear of not upsetting the warm ties between the West and Ankara.

Erdogan will visit his pet project, the fenced-off area of Varosha, which he wants to develop by contracting out work to members of his court.

And the cost of the mega project, just as with the water pipeline and the proposed electricity link, will be burdened by the Turkish Cypriots, who are finding it difficult by the day to remain in their own home.

Having sponsored Azerbaijan’s conflict with Armenia last year and warming up to Russia in a game of nerves, taunting Turkey’s NATO allies, Erdogan has sent signals to the new president in Jerusalem.

He suggests they take it from where their relations deteriorated with the Israeli attack on Mavi Marmara in 2010, followed by a harsh exchange of words with Shimon Peres at the following year’s Davos summit.

At the same time, through its double ties with Israel via Baku, Erdogan is openly coming out in support of Ukraine, indicating he did not fall for Putin’s efforts to lure Ankara into its fold.

If the EU member states continue to do nothing to stop the bully from opening the floodgates of refugees to Europe, will Russia tolerate this double-standard diplomacy by Turkey?

All these issues must be considered very seriously before Cypriot politicians start barking threats, living in the dream that they have the upper hand with justice on their side.

Solidarity is a word that has been frugally served in the case of Cyprus.

But the leadership in Nicosia has done nothing to win over the warmth and support of all our EU partners.

For now, it is a simple and vague declaration of “we will support you”, whatever that may mean.

Cyprus has a fragile and tiny economy, dependent on many external factors that we will continue being in everyone else’s debt for years.

As long as ingenuity is not used to make a niche name, we will never be taken seriously.

The president’s half-baked apology over the investment-for-passports fallacy has not been convincing.

The only way to stand up as David to Turkey’s Goliath is charm offensives in regional diplomacy, fast-track innovation, and speed up reforms to strengthen our economic position to be regarded seriously.

We must avoid upsetting the few good friends in Washington and convince everyone else that we are truly committed to a bizonal bicommunal federation.

President Anastasiades has had ample opportunities to do the latter but has often dithered, restrained from internal pressure, each time to avoid a tragic loss for his party at the polls.

Even the new leader of the opposition AKEL will have to impress on others that he is a true believer in a solution that would be fair and just to all communities on the island.

The Turkish Cypriots are withering, and very soon, as long as Erdogan is allowed to do as he pleases, there will be no one to talk to on reaching a solution.

By then, any patriotic call to arms and mass protests will be pointless and buried deep under the news headlines.

If all Cypriots do not unite, what is there to fight for?