January 12, 2006

NATO's Internal Cold War

Here is the first of two articles I wrote about Cyprus when I visited a few months ago. This one is from the Greek side. The next one is from the Turkish side.

House on Atilla Line.jpg

I know Cyprus isn’t as exciting as Iraq, but I’m working on that. Cyprus still matters, though. It’s where two enemy NATO countries (how’s that for irony?) face each other down inside the European Union over a wide swath of devastation in the heart of a modern capital.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at January 12, 2006 10:20 AM
Comments

Michael, your writing is great. But you offer no solution: "It is long past time for these formerly great imperial nations to come to some kind of settlement -- for everyone’s sake, not just their own."

They have "some kind of settlement" -- a border without shots being fired. Prolly more peaceful than the US - Mexican border.

A formal settlement requires at least one side to change. You failed to mention that the Turkish side of Cyprus wanted to join the EU, but the Greek side didn't want them.

My own "default recommendation" -- democracy, as seen by a referendum. Let the Turks in Northern Cypus choose: rejoin the Greeks as part of unified Cyprus, declare independence (far bigger than Monaco, for instance), join Turkey.

I'd guess they'd vote a plurality for independence -- it might require a second referendum for a majority of Turkish Cypriots to choose.

An advantage of democracy as a solution is that it doesn't force an outcome directly, it forces a process. And let's the people decide the outcome.

(I liked the pictures you had of Cyprus earlier; why doesn't TCS have a foto-gallery?)

Posted by: Tom Grey - Libertay Dad at January 12, 2006 03:24 PM

Having spent more than my fair share of time in Istanbul, relatively recently. The issue is one of those non-issue, issues. Yes, the effects to the population of Cyprus are real. It is like those "deal breaker" amendments all Senators carry around in their pockets.

Maybe something like the issue of Puerto Rican statehood in the US. I don't care..they want to be a state...okay...if not...okay too. Every few years a bunch of people get worked up about it...and nothing changes.

Posted by: Soldier's Dad at January 12, 2006 07:00 PM

Michael...please contact me off line. Bayan asked me to contact you. I put together the PR campaign for the Kurds, and have been working with them for more than ten years, traveling there many times. I can help you with all your logistics.

Bill

Posted by: Bill at January 12, 2006 10:06 PM

The article is interesting. If my recollection is correct, there are a few things I think would have been worth exploring in the article – perhaps we’ll see them in the next perspective. First, the Greek Cypriots have obfuscated in attempts at reunification – I recollect the Turkish Cypriots voted overwhelmingly to open the border and move toward reunification. Also, there is no mention of Cypriot support of PKK terrorists (Osclon had a Cypriot passport when arrested I believe). Also, what about the fact the Greek Cypriots are EU members and have full veto power over entry of new members into the community?

There is a lot more at work here it seems than simple equivalence.

Your blog is great. Keep it up.

Posted by: S at January 13, 2006 12:05 PM

"They have "some kind of settlement" -- a border without shots being fired. Prolly more peaceful than the US - Mexican border."

I'm fairly certain that the 200000 Greek Cypriots who have been dispossessed from their residences in the north by the Turkish occupation force would disagree.

"You failed to mention that the Turkish side of Cyprus wanted to join the EU, but the Greek side didn't want them."

"First, the Greek Cypriots have obfuscated in attempts at reunification – I recollect the Turkish Cypriots voted overwhelmingly to open the border and move toward reunification."

And what you failed to mention was that the Annan Plan conceded to almost every Turkish demand made since 1974. It also made a mockery of basic international law: none of the illegal Turkish settlers would be forced to return to Turkey, few of the Greek Cypriots would be allowed to return to their homes, Turkey would have to pay no compensation, and Turkey would be allowed retain a military force on the island. There is no shame at all in rejecting a biased "peace plan" put forth at behest of your occupier.

"An advantage of democracy as a solution is that it doesn't force an outcome directly, it forces a process."

So if, God forbid, the Chinese were to one day invade the Western U.S., expelling all non-Chinese origin Americans from their zone of control (as Turkey did to non-Turks in Cyprus) would you also call for an "election" to decide the fate of California, Oregon, and Washington? See, it's ludicrous; there's a good reason why occupiers aren't allowed to legitimize their crimes by holding elections in their satrapies.

"Also, there is no mention of Cypriot support of PKK terrorists (Osclon ["Ocalan" -ed.] had a Cypriot passport when arrested I believe)."

So the American revolutionaries who revolted over a tax on tea and the French revolutionaries who rebelled over a food scarcity that nothing to do with the royal government were both justified, but the Kurdish freedom fighters who fought a state that was basically committing genocide against them were "terrorists." That's interesting...

And it's also the reason why not everyone views the PKK as "terrorists." If it wasn't for the valiant armed struggle the peshmergas waged against the fascist regime in Ankara Kurds would still be virtual slaves in Turkey, as opposed to their current status of ninth-class citizens. It certainly was not the generosity of Ankara or pressure from Washington or Brussels that led to the slight amelioration of the fate of the Anatolian Kurd, for those frankly were and are nonexistant.

Posted by: Sephiroth at January 14, 2006 03:41 AM

Your selective recounting of the Annan plan and the right of return (sound familiar) straw man makes you an obvious partison. That is ok; it is what makes democratic wheels turn. There is not enough room here to debate the geniology of the Cypriot people and the political machinations that have occured before and post partition. I think you would agree that the right of return, like the similiar claim made of Israel, is likely a nonstarter. So using it as a pretense for sinking an agreement seems a bit disingenious - if only in this limited disagreement. Why did the Turks intervene anyway?

As for the PKK, I am not an expert. I was simply pointing out the widely reported use of G. Cypriot terrain for terrorist training camps (PLO included). I agree with your assertion that the Kurds have had a rough ride historically and are due redress. Nevertheless, I avowedly disagree with the expediant equivalance that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. That is a slippery slope I hope you would agree.

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