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12° Nicosia,
20 May, 2024
 
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Cyprus forgotten: Urgent call for resolution amid Greece-Turkey relations

As Greece-Turkey relations improve, Cyprus issue remains neglected, demanding immediate attention

Athanasios Ellis

Athanasios Ellis

At a time when there is a clear intention by Greece and Turkey to take steps to improve relations, with Athens and Ankara as well as other influential powers emitting a moderate optimism that substantial progress can be achieved, it seems that Cyprus has been forgotten, in both rhetoric and substance.

There are some officials – in all parties, there is no ideological prism on this – who do not show particular sensitivity to the situation on the island.

Bilateral relations between Athens and Ankara may improve partially, but they are not going to be fully normalized unless the wound that opened half a century ago in Cyprus is healed.

However, there are others who do not forget – not just in terms of rhetoric, but in substance. And it is not only the criticism that has been leveled by members of the opposition, which is to be expected but also by officials within the government party, whose reactions the prime minister now has to manage.

In this light, it would be good if the prime minister made corrective moves by referencing the Cyprus issue as a priority, which, of course, is an international problem requiring a solution that cannot come about without the necessary interventions and pressure from the international community.

At the same time, it seems absurd that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seeks to deepen his country’s relationship with the EU while Ankara continues to maintain occupation forces on the territory of the Republic of Cyprus, an EU member, and Nicosia remains the last divided European capital.

It does not feel and it is not right, at this particular time when the war in Ukraine is raging on, for Greece, and for that matter the West, to boost relations with Turkey without compellingly highlighting the necessity of resolving the Cyprus issue.

With today’s anniversary of the Turkish invasion of 1974 we enter the 50th year since the invasion and the presence since then of up to 40,000 Turkish soldiers, reminding us that this is an issue of invasion and occupation.

It is an oxymoron, to say the least when the United States and Europe are showing so much sensitivity – and rightly so – about the Russian military invasion of Ukraine, with Moscow claiming, among other things, that it invaded to support the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine, that there is a deafening silence about a similar invasion by Turkey to supposedly protect the Turkish Cypriots.

Like Russia’s “special military operation” of 2022, Turkey described its invasion of Cyprus in 1974 as a “peace operation.”

Many people are making sincere efforts to make the Aegean a “sea of peace.” However, they should understand that the continuation of the current situation in Cyprus, or – even worse – an unfair, non-functional and ultimately unsustainable solution to the Cyprus problem, will negatively affect any efforts made in improving relations between Greece and Turkey.

This equation is a complex one. Bilateral relations between Athens and Ankara may improve partially, but they are not going to be fully normalized unless the wound that opened half a century ago in Cyprus is healed.

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Cyprus  |  Greece  |  Turkey

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