Is Erdoğan a superman?
The last time Cyprus was tilting to a serious resolution was 2003-2004, when the international community was pressing hard on the Turkish Cypriots to accept the so-called Annan Plan.
The focus must have been on the Greek Cypriot side but “eyes were wide shut” to the reality that it has always been the Greek Cypriots who torpedoed resolution, but successfully placed the blame on Turkish Cypriots. It was a PR game for Greek Cypriots. Their aim has been to play for time, exhaust Turkish Cypriots and achieve the aim.
What was the aim? To get rid of Turkish Cypriot partnership in sovereignty? How? Two options, either through exterminating them, as was called for in the Akritas plan and was tried to be achieved between December 1963 and July 1974 or “convincing” them to surrender and become second-class citizens or a privileged minority.
In Ankara, however, a new political elite was in power and unlike the preceding Turkish governments, was determined to clear “obstacles” on Turkey’s path for advancement; or residues of the past “manage the day” mentality. Cyprus has long been a handicap for Turkey’s EU aspirations as well as for overall foreign policy objectives. Erdoğan was determined to get rid of it at a price “acceptable for Turkish Cypriots.” At least that was the atmosphere in Ankara at the time.
The “we shall be a step ahead of Greeks in Cyprus peacemaking” statement delivered to then U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan was thus a revolutionary pledge by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The Turkish Cypriot community was steered successfully from the “no” to a “yes” at the expense of “dumping” a monumental Rauf Denktaş and installing in Turkish Cypriot leadership a political lame duck, Mehmet Ali Talat. Had the Günter Verheugens and Sir David Hannays of Europe’s policy making mechanism been smart enough to see that reality and avoid pledging to Greek Cypriots that they would be granted EU accession with or without a settlement on Cyprus, a deal would perhaps have been made on Cyprus in 2004. At least the EU membership of the Greek Cypriot side would not have come as if they were rewarded with it for rejecting the Annan Plan.
Eight years on those wishing to see a settlement on Cyprus still strive to capture the 2004 atmosphere on the island and in the Cyprus peacemaking efforts. With intransigent Tassos Papadopoulos and clumsy Demetris Christofias scared of making a decision on any issue, years were spent in vain. The economic-financial crisis worsened because of Christofias’ hesitance to act on it. Thus, Nikos Anastasiades became president of a bankrupt community clever enough to believe that without serious side effects the burden of salvaging the economy might be placed on Russian depositors in Greek Cypriot banks. Now, he has started discovering the bitter side effects; withdrawing foreign investors and worst, a sharp 10 percent decrease in the number of tourists arriving in southern Cyprus.
Veteran Greek politician Konstantinos Mitsotakis was in the news with an interview with Hürriyet. He said Erdoğan could find a solution to the Cyprus problem with less effort than he is consuming to solve the Kurdish issue. “Erdoğan is a strong politician who is able to take different decisions. That is why we can hope that he will support a solution to the Cyprus issue,” he was quoted saying. Yet he said “Turkey could persuade the Turkish Cypriot community on talks” and demonstrated that at the age of 95 he might be no longer sane enough to remember who has been stalling a Cyprus deal for ages.
Without doubt Erdoğan wants to get rid of Cyprus and the Kurdish “chains” of Turkey, believing that in the absence of them Turkey could fly… Yet, Erdoğan is no superman and as long as – as is seen in Greek Cypriot readers’ frantic comments to my articles – Greek Cypriots concede their role in the Cyprus tragedy, realize that this problem did not start in 1974 but 1974 was a consequence of the 1963-1974 sufferings, a deal only then can become discernible.