Annexing northern Cyprus
The Turkish Cypriot main opposition leader is fuming nowadays. The ruling party must have been upset as well but cannot dare to antagonize the Turkish government and thus pretends as if it is deaf and dumb.
At the heart of the controversy is a statement from Turkey’s European Union Minister Egemen Bağış. In an interview with Turkish Cypriot newspaper Kıbrıs, Bağış very rightly stressed that establishing a federation should not be the sole option of the Cyprus talks. Why, for God’s sake, should the two sides on the island talk about how to establish a federation if for some important reasons neither of them sincerely wants such a deal? Can they reach a settlement deal since they just pay lip service to a federation goal but in practice have been always engaged in deals that would imperil a federal resolution?
Bağış stressed that all settlement options must be on the negotiations table and the two sides should agree on one option and finish off the Cyprus problem. He said Turkey wanted a united Cyprus which would bring the two peoples on the island under one roof composed of the two constituent states and which would provide both peoples of the island peace, calm and prosperity.
So far, so good. But Bağış continued elaborating about the settlement options and spelled out some ideas shared by many but equally hated by many others in Turkey and in northern Cyprus. He suggested the leaders might agree on a settlement that would bring the two peoples under a common roof or it might be one of separation and establishment of two independent states on the island and the northern Turkish Cypriot state deciding to join Turkey. “All these options are on the negotiation table,” a wishful-thinking Bağış was quoted as saying, perhaps unaware or in ignorance of the fact that the goal of the current talks is to reach an accord creating a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation on the basis of political equality of the two founding entities.
Bağış further elaborated that whatever the settlement Turkish Cypriot leader Derviş Eroğlu and his Greek Cypriot counterpart Demetris Christofias agreed upon, Turkey would welcome it provided that settlement was built on “political equality” of the two sides on the island and the leaders managed to get backing from their peoples for the deal they agreed on.
Bağış is of course wrong or misquoted by the “Kıbrıs” newspaper. The fundamental strategy of Turkey regarding Cyprus is not to have a hostile government in part or in all of Cyprus. For overall Turkish security and strategic interests, particularly for the security of Turkey’s Mediterranean coast and, in the meantime, one of the most important energy hubs of the Western world and particularly for Turkey having the option to open up to seas, the status quo is unacceptable for Turkey.
A negotiated settlement, even if it might bring two independent states, would be great. Even if it comes with a mutually-agreed upon accord – definitely a wild fantasy – partition and consequently annexation of northern Cyprus to Turkey would mean Turkey being encircled by Greece from the east as well. Greece is of course not an enemy, but the situation would not be at all pleasing for Ankara. Thus, for Ankara, the best settlement has been a united Cyprus.