As Biden visits Cyprus
American Vice President Joe Biden will be in Cyprus today and tomorrow for such a high level visit to the island from across the Atlantic in 52 years. The previous visit was by Lyndon B. Johnson who was elevated to the seat of the president with the unfortunate assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Yes, the same Johnson who made it into Turkish-American bilateral relations with his notorious letter to Turkey’s then-Prime Minister İsmet İnönü, warning should Turkey intervene on Cyprus and that intervention triggers a war with the Soviets, it should not expect American allied assistance.
Biden’s will be of great importance for the future of peacemaking on the eastern Mediterranean island.
As Turkish Cypriot President Derviş Eroğlu has said on many occasions over the past few weeks, Turkish Cypriots need no prodding, as they are already pro-settlement and are well aware that any deal to bury the half-century-old quagmire will be built on a mutually painful compromise. Will Biden be courageous enough to pressure the Greek Cypriot side to be more forthcoming in the process, which has been taking great, yet tortoise steps forward? Obviously accelerating the process is a must. This process cannot continue another half of a century waiting for the good moment of the Greek Cypriots to be generous enough to accept Turkish Cypriot political equality.
Indeed, a Greek Cypriot reader reminded me why we have not had a Cyprus settlement in so long. One fundamental element is the international recognition of Greek Cypriots as the “Republic of Cyprus,” though an all-Greek Cypriot government cannot represent the entire island under the founding agreements and constitution of the land. Similarly, it is not the 1960 state that has been granted the seat of the “sole legitimate government” at the United Nations, member of the European Union and the Eurozone and such. Why would Greek Cypriots agree to share their international status with Turkish Cypriots, who have been left out in the cold, worse than a parasitic relationship with Ankara?
Yes, Turkish Cypriots might be overdosed with the Biden visit, as visits to northern Turkish Cypriot areas, put aside government offices, by visiting dignitaries has been very limited. Not only is there an international economic and political isolation clamped on Turkish Cypriots by their brethren in the Greek Cypriot zone, they are denied sports or any sort of cultural contact with the international community, including Turkey. A Turkish Cypriot high school cannot compete in an international tournament hosted by Turkey. Why? Greek Cypriots are obsessed with a probable consolidation of international statute of the Turkish Cypriot state.
The Cyprus problem is not a problem of refugees, if it was, why were Turkish Cypriot refugees left out in the cold by the international community from 1963 to 1974 until they were rescued by Turkish intervention from total annihilation by Athens-supported fascist hordes? Worse, those terrorists that devised and partially, but unsuccessfully executed plans for the total annihilation of Turkish Cypriots are still honored by Greek Cypriots as heroes.
For peace, there is the need to engage in talks with good faith. Nikos Anastasiades is still worshipping bronze or stone busts of terrorists, his forefathers. Can he make peace? Of course he can, provided he first extends a heartfelt apology to Turkish Cypriots for all his people did from 1963 on. If they do, sure Turkish Cypriots and Turkey will reciprocate with the same faith. Anyhow, Turkish Cypriots are well aware of the trauma Greek Cypriots suffered in 1974, when not only were they stopped from murdering Turkish Cypriots, but a safe haven was created and gradually became today’s Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
It is high time to make a new beginning, but it can’t be done alone... Two are needed to tango.