Who needs an enemy?
Trying to woo nationalists, fascists, religious fanatics and such segments of the Greek Cypriot society that delivered oaths on hand grenades to “drink Turkish Cypriot society,” repeating at every opportunity that the “majority cannot succumb to the minority,” and at the same time trying to fool Turks with some empty “we want federation” rhetoric must be a very tiring occupation.
Often Turks use the “with friends like you, who needs an enemy” saying to complain about some nasty friends. What about nasty prospective partners? In 2003, the Turkish Cypriot side unilaterally opened the crossing points between north and south Cyprus. In 2004, Greek Cypriots rejected a U.N.-sponsored plan offering federal resolution to the Cyprus problem. Though Turkish Cypriots accepted and Greeks rejected that plan, only a week later, on May 1, 2004, Greek Cypriots were awarded EU membership, representing the entire people and land of the island and ignoring the over 50-year-old Cyprus problem. Yet with an additional protocol, the fascist Tassos Papadopoulos government of the time pledged the EU that EU nationals would have unhindered right to travel throughout the island.
While the Greek Cypriot government had no power to stop EU nationals at the airports or at border crossings into northern Cyprus, for third world country nationals, a decision was taken, but for decades was not implemented in full. Last year, a group of Czech children invited by Turkish Cypriots for a children’s festival was abruptly held at the Larnaca airport, questioned, temporarily held captive and were told they were not allowed to enter the island because they were planning to attend a festival in the “occupied” territory. After uproar from many European capitals, Greek Cypriots made a U-turn, but the kids, excluding three, flew back home onboard a chartered plane. The three participated in the festival in the north. Those were the times empathy-stricken Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı romantically dreamt he could sign a federation accord with Nikos Anastasiades.
Last Monday, the ugly face of the Greek Cypriot fanaticism and its Turkish enmity came out of the box once again. Recalling the Interior Ministry’s circular on a ban on third world country citizens who might cross into the north and stay at hotels that once used to belong to Greek Cypriots before the 1974 Turkish operation, officious migration police questioned tourists. Altogether, 51 people were told their entries to Cyprus were barred because they were to stay on “Greek property in the occupied land.” One couple was not even going to stay in the north. They were to stay with some Greek Cypriot friends but when asked whether they would go to the north as well they replied, “Why not, we will go everywhere…” The interference of their hosts did not help either, the decision was made. Some 14 other tourists, from Serbia and Lebanon, were sent back as well. The remaining 35 were from Israel. They were declared unwanted as well but after they alerted the Israeli foreign ministry and when the Israeli mission in Nicosia knocked on some thick heads in the Greek Cypriot government, it was decided to freeze the circular and a crisis with Israel was averted and the Israelis were allowed to enter Cyprus.
The Lebanese couple was refused entry although they were not going to stay in the north but said they might visit the north as well. Yet migration police officers on duty believed under the guidelines, third world country nationals who express merely an intention to visit the north had to be denied entry. Yet the same officer had to accept the entry of the Israeli tourists because of the fuss created by the Israeli mission… Double standards? No… Political realism. Taking on Lebanon might not be too risky, but taking on Israel might be too risky…
So, the application was frozen temporarily. Embassies and companies were informed of the decision that any non-EU national wishing to go to the north will not be allowed to enter Cyprus. The Greek Cypriot foreign ministry has apparently compiled a huge list of formerly owned Greek Cypriot properties in the north, saying non-EU tourists wishing to stay at any of those places would be sent back…
Turkish Cypriots have been suffocated for decades because of inhumane embargoes imposed by the Greek Cypriot government, which is backed by the European Union and other European institutions. We keep talking about confidence-building measures… The end result? With the Larnaca airport practices in mind, can anyone say the Greek prospective partner is willing to live together with Turks in peace?