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19 May, 2024
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Moment of truth: Critical juncture for Cyprus

Resuming talks or lingering stalemate? Anticipating consequences

Yiannis Ioannou

Yiannis Ioannou

The shift attempted by Turkish President Erdogan, with a backdrop of Turkey's relations with the US, the European Union, and Athens, seems to indicate a significant paradigm change. Not because Turkey will suddenly resolve the Greek-Turkish disputes overnight, regarding maritime zones in the Aegean or the Cyprus issue, nor because Athens and Nicosia will create a "Prespa Agreement of the Aegean" as some claimed a few days ago, asserting that Turkey would not consent to Sweden's entry into NATO and circulating hashtags like #NojetsforTurkey. The example changes because the Turkish economy is being tested, Erdogan is 70 years old without significant opposition or a major electoral process ahead of him, and the war in Ukraine continues and will persist until a completely new security architecture of the international system is formed for the next decades.

In this context, Hellenism, in Greece and Cyprus, must assess its strengths internally. What does this mean? It means having a well-prepared, sincere, and unbiased strategy for resolving problems with Turkey, which looks not only at the next day and the domestic situation but also at the next decades. Precisely because "Erdogan's Turkey," which is not a Western-style democracy like Greece and the Republic of Cyprus, will not be the same in a few years. Political transition in such cases entails risks and dangers given the size and geography, especially in Cyprus and the current status quo.

Regarding the Cyprus issue, which is more challenging than the Greek-Turkish disputes, all pieces seem to be in place for the homeland to begin a new phase to restart negotiations. Does this mean that Erdogan's Turkey will back down from the "Blue Homeland" doctrine and the high revisionist rhetoric regarding the Aegean, Cyprus, and Eastern Mediterranean, especially if the Turkish President feels more secure economically and militarily shortly? He may likely return with a high tone, but it is also possible that he may not, as often mentioned by the average commentator. However, it is more probable, and probably safer and patriotically responsible, for Greece and Cyprus to prepare to engage him with a well-designed negotiation plan, always having a Plan B if he resorts to a high tone again. What does such an approach entail? It means a moment of truth, 200-plus years since the establishment of the Greek state, after almost half a century of occupation in Cyprus, and a century after the birth of modern Turkey.

For the Cyprus issue, which is more challenging than the Greek-Turkish disputes, all pieces seem to be in place for the homeland to begin a new phase to restart negotiations. Whether a process will take place, or if Turkey, in this corner of the region, has chosen to act differently towards Athens, for example, will become evident very soon. Likewise, it will soon become clear if President Christodoulides truly means all his rhetoric about resolving the Cyprus issue or if he simply wants to manage a deadlock, as so many of his predecessors did in the past, pushing the issue further down the road.

The hour of truth seems to be approaching in the Cyprus issue, and whatever happens, whether it's a potential resumption of negotiations or a failure of that possibility, leading to a resolution or a new deadlock, it will follow us forever this time. Let's hope that those who need to understand this have realized it.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

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