Greeks don’t need an enemy
When angered by the inappropriate attitudes of friends, don’t we often say “With friends like you, who needs an enemy?” Seeing the awful performance of Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias ever since he assumed the foreign minister portfolio in Alexis Tsipras’ government, perhaps that expression should be reworded as “With Kotzias as foreign minister, do the Greeks need an enemy?”
If anyone wants to find an excuse why the bright hopes for the latest round in Cyprus talks were recently replaced with a “Probably not this time as well” pessimistic realism, perhaps they should consider the Herculean contributions of Kotzias. Kotzias apparently lives in his own obsessive world with a grasp of reality totally different than the rest of the world.
Most recently, Kotzias made a number of statements between March 25 and 28 during a visit to the southern Greek Cypriot-administered part of Cyprus regarding the quagmire on the island, which has been defying all resolution efforts since the 1968 start of intercommunal talks. Not a single one of these statements reflected the realities on the island; on the contrary, they were all so distorted that it is difficult to know where to begin when taking them up. Let me nevertheless attempt this daunting undertaking.
First, Kotzias said, “The sense he gathered from the negotiations in Geneva was that Turkey was not ready.” In fact, as my well-placed Turkish and Greek Cypriot sources assure me, if that was the sense Kotzias got, then he was the only person in Geneva to get it. Everyone else got the impression that the side which was not ready – or perhaps was not willing would be a better description – were the Greeks.
Second, Kotzias claimed that the right of intervention under the 1960 Guarantees and Alliance System was, “in [his] opinion […] non-existent and illegal.” It is, quite frankly, amazing to hear the foreign minister of one of the three guarantor powers (Greece, Turkey and Britain) make such a claim. At least as an academic, Kotzias really should know better, but as we all know, politicians can sometimes be more economical with the truth. At any rate, international law has diverse sources and interpretations, so thankfully Kotzias’ opinion is not the sole source of authority on the matter.
Third, it is truly saddening to see the Greek foreign minister refer to the “Turkish Cypriots and the three small minorities on Cyprus,” grouping them together in the same phrase in contrast to the Greek Cypriots, as if the Turkish Cypriots were a mere minority on the island and not the politically equal co-owners of Cyprus with whom the Greek Cypriot side is conducting settlement negotiations. Such an attitude is in stark contrast to the stance of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, who recently emphasized in an editorial published in the Washington Times how Turkey would extend a hand of friendship and cooperation to the Greek Cypriots in the event of a settlement.
Indeed, Çavuşoğlu has often stressed that the Greek Cypriots finally need to acknowledge the Turkish Cypriots as politically equal partners. That, it seems, is a message that Kotzias should also take to heart.
The remarks of Kotzias, as well as statements attributed to both Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and Foreign Minister Ioannakis Kassulides implying a perverted perception that Turkish Cypriots are just one of the minorities of the “Hellenic Cypriot nation,” represent a mindset that has always prevented a resolution to the Cyprus problem. It was this perverted mindset and the hallucinations of “union with Greece” (enosis) that started the Cyprus problem back in 1962 with Archbishop Makarios who, under the pretext of achieving efficiency in governance, suggested a set of constitutional amendments. Those amendments envisaged the Turkish Cypriots being divested of their partnership rights in the sovereignty and governance of the island and the conversion of the Cypriot Republic from an effective federation into a totally Hellenic state. The Cyprus problem started with Turkish Cypriots and their motherland, Turkey, saying a firm “no” to such expansionist designs of Greece.
If no one else, at least the Greek foreign minister should have the intellectual capability to understand that a resolution to the Cyprus problem requires three important steps by the relevant sides: 1) Acknowledge the existence of two politically equal people on the island of Cyprus, whose relationship is not one of minority or majority but of two people sharing the same homeland; 2) Understand that the new partnership state must be a bi-zonal and bi-communal federation of two equal entities; and 3) Acknowledge the security concerns of both peoples and rearrange the security dimension and the guarantees in a manner to soothe the concerns of both parties.
δεν έχετε κατανοήσει, Κοτζιάς?*
*‘Do you comprehend Kotzias?’