İstikşafi Görüşmeler Başlarken Yunanistan’ın Siyasi Görünümü ve Silahlanma Çabaları

2019 ve 2020’de Atina ile Ankara arasında gerilime sebep olan sorunların araştırılarak çözüm
bulunmasına yönelik istikşafi (exploratory) görüşmeler bugün (25 Ocak 2021) İstanbul’da
başlayacaktır. Her iki tarafında bu konuda kendine özgü argümanları olduğu ve bunlardan ödün
vermekten uzak duracakları değerlendirilmektedir. Umarız bu konudaki girişimler NATO üyesi olan
her iki taraf arasındaki siyasi ve askeri gerilimi azaltmada etkin bir rol oynar.
Yunanistan ile Türkiye arasında gerek Ege Denizi ve gerekse Doğu Akdeniz’de neredeyse kemikleşmiş
olan muhtelif sorunlar her an bir çatışma zemini olmaya devam etmektedir. Her iki tarafta meseleyi
barışçı yollarla çözme niyetinde olduklarını ifade etseler de kendi argümanlarından taviz vermek
niyetinde olmadıklarını gösteren bir tutum sergilemekten geri durmamaktadır.
Son olarak, 2021’in ilk günlerinde Yunanistan’ın batıda İyon Denizi’nde kıta sahanlığını 12 mile
çıkartma kararı ve bunu Ege Denizi’nde de yapmaya hakkı olduğunu ileri sürmesi, görüşmeler
öncesiAtina’nın yaklaşımı hakkında bir ip ucu olabilecektir.
Ankara ile olan müzakere ve siyasi ilişkilerinde Atina aşağıda belirtilen üç önemli faktörün kendisine
avantaj sağlayacağını değerlendirebilir;
Birincisi, Yunanistan’ınAvrupa birliği üyesi olmasıdır. Her ne kadar,Ekim 2020’de yapılan toplantıda
Yunanistan ve Fransa’nın Ankara’ya yaptırım kararı alması için yaptıkları baskılara boyun eğmese de
A.B. Mart ayı toplantısında konuyu yeniden ele alacaktır. Hem Fransa’nın hem de Atina’nın
yaptıtımlar konusunda baskısının devam edeceği ve Almanya’nın bu durumda kilit rol oynayacağı
söylenebilir. Bu durumda, Türkiye’nin gerek Cumhurbaşkanı ve gerekse Dışişleri Bakanı tarafından
uzattığı zeytin dalı ne kadar güvenli olarak ele alınacaktır, bekleyip göreceğiz. Bütün her şeye rağmen,
Yunanistan’ın AB üyesi ve arkasında üye ülkelerin az veya çok desteğine sahip olması, Atina için
Ankara’ya karşı avantajlı bir konum yaratmakta olduğu değerlendirilmelidir.
İkinci olarak, Doğu Akdeniz’le ilgili olarak, “düşmanımın düşmanı dostumdur” ilkesinden hareketle
Atina’nın İsrail, Birleşik Arap Emirlikleri (BAE), Mısır, Suudi Arabistan ile gerçekleştirdikleri anlaşmalar
ve ittifak Atina tarafından önemli bir yaklaşım olarak ele alınmaktadır. Özellikle, İsrail’in BAE ve Suudi
Arabistan ve Katar’la olan anlaşmaları Atina’nın bu iş birliğini pekiştiren bir görünüm arz etmektedir.
Yunanistan Türkiye karşıtı ittifak ilişkisiyle Ankara’yı Doğu Akdeniz’de kuşatarak hareket sahasını
kısıtlayabildiğini ve siyasi olarak bloke edebileceğini değerlendirmektedir.
Üçüncü faktör ise, Atina’nın silahlanma çabalarına hız vermesidir. Yunanistan’ın 2009 yılında 7,88
milyar Euro olan savunma harcamaları kısıtlamalardan dolayı 2018 yılında 3,75 milyar Euro’ya
düşmüş ve 2020 yılında ise %45 artışla 5,5 milyar Euro olarak gerçekleşmiştir. 2021 başında
Yunanistan Fransa’dan 18 adet Rafale savaş uçağı alımı için 2,5 milyar Euro ‘lük bir anlaşma yapmıştır.
Bu taarruz uçaklarının 3.700 km. olan menzili F-16 menzilinden dört kat, Mirage uçaklarının
menzilinden iki kat fazla olup, Türkiye’nin her yerine ulaşabilecek yetenektedir. İlk partinin
programdan altı ay önce, Mayıs ayında teslimi için baskı yapması ve pilotları eğitim için Fransa’ya
göndermesi silahlanmaya verdiği önemi göstermesi açısından dikkate değerdir. Ayrıca, dört adet yeni
firkateyn alma ve mevcut dört adedi de modernleştirme girişiminde bulunması Atina’nın havada ve
denizde etkinliğini attırma niyet ve maksadı üzerinde ciddi emareler sunmaktadır. Bunun yanısıra,
Yunan Silahlı Kuvvetleri’nde 15 bin yeni kadronun açılması ve elinde mevcut 85 F-16’nın
modernleştirilmesi önemli bir gelişme olarak görülmelidir.
Atina’nın bir taraftan Ankara ile görüşmeleri A.B. ve ABD’ne karşı bir iyi niyet göstergesi olarak
sürdürürken, diğer taraftan yukarıda belirttiğimiz avantajlarını öne alarak Türkiye ile uzlaşmaz tutumunu sürdürmeye devam edeceği değerlendirilmektedir. Bu nedenle, Ankara’nın siyasi olarak
elini güçlendirmesi gerekmektedir. Bu ise, A.B. ve özellikle Almanya ile ilişkileri yine rayına oturtmak,
İsrail, Mısır ve Suudi Arabistan ile ilişkileri olumlu yolda geliştirmek ve ABD’nin yeni yönetimi ile
işbirliğini arttırarak bölgede etkinliğini sürdürecek siyasi güce sahip olmasından geçtiği
değerlendirilmektedir. Bu Yunanistan’ın saldırı amaçlı askeri bir provokasyona girişmesini önleme
açısından da önemli bir girişim olacaktır.

 

Prof.Dr.Serdar Erdurmaz

Visits: 299

21st September EU Council

On September 21st 2020, the day has been addressed many issues in the actual European
Commission in Brussels: Belarusian crisis, Turkey Eastern Mediterranean issue, Venezuela,
Libya civil war, the European Union-China relations, the Russian issue, Lebanon, the
European Union, and African Relations.
The election was lived on 9th August 2020 in Belarus, and it has been demonstrated that
there was a fraud in the elections and that Alexandr Lukashenko did not receive 80 percent of
the votes and accordingly the EU did not recognize his legitimacy. Also, the President of the
European Parliament, David Sassoli invited Tikhanovskaya (strong opposition leader in
Belarus) to this Council in Brussels. At the end of the meeting between the two, Sassoli
requested the release of those detained in the demonstrations. In addition to this, Borell, the
High Representative of the EU for Foreign Relations and Security Policies, will stand by the
EU in determining Belarus’ destiny; however, he stated that no sanctions can be imposed at
the moment due to the obstacle by Southern Cyprus. According to Southern Cyprus, Turkey
has to be punished by the EU because of the Eastern Mediterranean issue. On the other hand,
at the end of the conference, taking further steps to de-escalate to Turkey was said on that
issue.
When the current events were examined, there was a speech about the results of the last
meeting of Venezuela and the International Contact Group, and the ministers agreed that the
international community should mobilize all efforts to help Venezuelans find a peaceful and
democratic solution to the ongoing crisis and to meet the immediate needs of the population.
Moreover, the sanctions imposed on the Head of the House of Representatives in Tobruk,
Akile Lakih, and Nuri Ebu Sehmen on Libya were lifted, and it was decided to impose
sanctions on companies that violate the arms embargo by sending arms from Turkey, Jordan,
and Kazakhstan to Libya.
Ministers of the EU Council was informed about the EU-China Leaders Conference held on
September 14, focusing on the progress of the Comprehensive Investment Agreement
negotiations and the human rights situation by the High Representative. Moreover, on the
Russian issue, it was said that an urgent international investigation, in full transparency and
cooperation, was needed to poison High Representative Navalny and the Organization for the
Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. In addition to these, for the difficult situation that occurred
as a result of the earthquake in Beirut, the needs of the people in Lebanon and the speedy

formation of a new government was talked. Lastly, the EU made discussions on developing
economic and political relations with Africa in the medium and long term. As a result of this
interview, it was stated that strategic priorities should be determined for the 10-year European
Union-Africa Union.
To sum up, in the 21st September 2020 EU Council meeting Belarusian crisis, Turkey
Eastern Mediterranean issue, Venezuela, Libya civil war, the European Union-China
relations, the Russian issue, Lebanon, the European Union, and the African Relations were
discussed. The results of this discussion can be summarized like that: they could not get a
decision on the Belarus crisis, because of Southern Cyprus’ veto, Turkey was warned for
taking further steps to de-escalate, ministers agreed that the international community should
mobilize all efforts to help Venezuelans find a peaceful and democratic solution for
Venezuela, because of supporting weapons to Libya, Turkey, Kazakhstan and Jordan got
sanctions; Comprehensive Investment Agreement negotiations and the human rights situation
between the EU and China were told; there will be opened an investigation for poison High
Representative Navalny; because of the Beirut earthquake, people’s need will be supplied in
Lebanon; and the EU and Africa will develop their relations through economically and politically.

This article is written by Buse Bakkaloğlu

Visits: 326

LIFTING EMBARGO ON THE SOUTHERN CYPRUS BY THE USA

Cyprus has a significant part in history at any time for many countries, such as Greece,
Ottoman, England. When we look at the beginning of the 1900s, we see the increase of the
England effect in there after the Ottoman’s power decrease. Also, in the 1930s, Enosis came
to the fore and it was used to mean the “attachment of the island of Cyprus, which was under
the administration of the United Kingdom, to Greece”. With this Greece began to be more
active in Cyprus, and this was not good for neither Turkey nor the United Kingdom. In these
years the war was lived. In the 1950s, the choice of having two governments and two
nationalities with a border on the island was accepted, but also the negotiation plans were
talked. However, this did not continue in a long way. Moreover, the right of the Turkish
minority was crushed, and in 1974 Turkey organized an operation on Cyprus. This was not
seen as the right behavior by other countries. Moreover, after Turkey intervened in Cyprus in
1974, the USA put an embargo on Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and
that situation had continued until Jimmy Carter lifted it in 1977. Then, in 1987 the USA put
an embargo on all of Cyprus in order to a peaceful environment in Cyprus, and good relations
between Greeks and Turkish minorities.
According to today’s news, the USA lift embargo from “only” Southern Cyprus on the 1st
of September 2020. Moreover, that decision will come into force on the 1st of October. What
did change during this time? Why the USA chose just the Southern part when Greece and
Turkey have problems in the Eastern Mediterranean in these days. From the 1990s, the USA
and Southern Cyprus does not have strict relations, and the USA just contributes negotiations
of the Northern and Southern parts of Cyprus. However, after Greece’s voices on the rights of
the Mediterranean Sea increases at the end of June 2020, the USA got the meetings with not
only Greece but also Southern Cyprus. Moreover, the United States Secretary of State Mike
Pompeo said that “the relations of the USA with Southern Cyprus will improve”.s Namely,
the problem in Eastern Mediterranean resulted in occurring good relations between the USA
and Southern Cyprus.
The lifting of the embargo resulted in opposition to the USA and Turkey after fifty-six
years. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey said it was to ignore equality and balance
between the two peoples on the island. In other words, this decision will adversely affect
efforts to resolve the Cyprus issue. Also, these days when efforts are being made to reduce
tension in the Eastern Mediterranean, the USA’s signing of such a decision that poisons the

peace and stability environment in the region, this situation can not be seen as compatible
with the spirit of alliance. This led to a break down of the relation with the USA, and Turkey,
as a guarantor country, so that the appropriate legal and historical responsibility to guarantee
the security of the Turkish Cypriot people will take the necessary steps it will take
determination. Also, Northern Cyprus defends that lifting the embargo will not contribute to
peace, but the conflict of the Greek side. On the other hand, Southern Cyprus’s President
Nicos Anastasiades got pleasure about lifting the embargo and getting improvement relations
with the USA. Also, US officials told the Greek press that lifting the embargo is independent
of the agenda in the Eastern Mediterranean. Furthermore, it was emphasized that lifting the
embargo will only apply to non-lethal weapons, and this attempt will continue “just” a year.
However, either just being a year or related to non-lethal weapons this will affect the balance
of power of the Southern and Northern Cyprus.
To sum up, in a manner of today’s Cyprus issue has continued between Greece and Turkey
since the 1930s. In addition, the USA put an embargo firstly Turkey in 1974, Cyprus Peace
Operation, then the USA gave up the embargo on Turkey in 1977. Moreover, in 1987
embargo on not only Northern but also Southern was put by the USA. Also, up to 1st
September 2020, this situation was continued. On that date, the USA repealed the embargo
“just” on Southern Cyprus, although there is a critical situation in the Eastern Mediterranean
between Turkey and Greece today. Because of that Turkey got much more worries about the
balance of power and on the Northern Cyprus citizens. On the other hand, Southern Cyprus
have pleasure, and according to the Mike Pompeo lifting embargo is not related to the Eastern
Mediterranean issue, and this will not affect Northern and Southern Cyprus negotiation about
the unification decision for a bi-zonal bi-communal federation.

 

This article is written by Buse Bakkaloğlu

Visits: 390

Turkey-EU relations: What is the Matter?

 

Throughout the years, Turkey’s relations with the European Union has had
fluctuations, and it has been the nature of all human-involved relationships. However, in the
last 24 years, it might be right to say that it is only getting worse. Özdem Sanberk (R.
Ambassador), in his online article, classified problems as tensions with Greece, the European
Union’s unnecessary attitude towards Turkey, and lack of empathy as well as a compromise
not coming from both sides. Even it is possible to widen the causes of decremental
characteristics of the relation between Turkey and the EU, this essay aims to stay in the
predetermined frame provided by former Ambassador Sanberk.
Turkey’s application to the Union is dating back to 40 years. Even though, the
membership application had been reflected as a progressive one, considering the long time
and rare improvements: This process is not an advancing one. On the one hand, Customs
Union is an achievement for both sides, belongs to the 24 years ago, and on the other,
promised membership status had never been acquired by Turkey.
Greek Cypriots’ application, many years after Turkey’s, was admitted despite “they
rejected the UN and EU peace proposals in a referendum” (Sanberk, 2020). Moreover, there
was not a made-agreement on the divided island accordingly. Since then, Greece has acquired
the full-member status and use its ‘veto right’ against Turkey continuously.
Whilst Greece membership creating one of the causes of tension between Turkey and
Greece, the second one is perceived as arbitrary map designs coming from Greece on the
issues such as seabed issue and exclusion of Turkey in energy agreements according to
Sanberk (2020). According to Greece-made maps, Turkey’s seabed rights are narrowed as if
it is a ‘narrow strip’ along the southern coasts, which is an unsubstantial design on the
Turkish side.
In addition to the former issue, exclusion of Turkey from energy trades taking part in
the eastern Mediterranean is no better for Turkey. This thought blockade towards Turkey is
quite hostile and not logical. Sanberk (2020) argues that gas line passing through Turkey “
would be the cheapest and most effective route” whereas the planned alternatives such as
‘EastMed’ -for gas- and ‘EuroAsia Interconnector’ -for electricity- would extract Turkey
from the route could be the “by far longest coastline” (Sanberk, 2020).
The bigger picture and the main issue here is the contribution of the European Union
on each topic. Neutral years of EU on the political developments between Turkey and Greece
were stated as the 1950s and ’60s. After Greece’s full membership on January 1st,1981
transformed the EU’s attitude towards Turkey negative and being against Turkey namely
every situation took place. Acting with the assumption of “community solidarity” and
presumed supremacy – as Merkel did in her latest statement about eastern Mediterranean-,
European Union provoked “consequences could be with us for centuries” (Sanberk, 2020).
As for the unimaginable seabed rights and blockade over energy issues, the EU again stood

up for Greece by denigrating Turkey’s noncompliance with given issues. This fairly “single-
sided exclusionary policy of EU” received Turkey’s angry reaction naturally.

What can be done is extracting tensions between Greece and Turkey by negotiating
in a peaceful and compromising attitude for both sides, and the Union should reward a
conciliatory manner while punishing otherwise (Sanberk, 2020). Trade negotiations and visa
conditions must be enhanced and practiced. Turkey’s criticized recent policies should be
rethought with an “act of empathy” and responded accordingly. Turkey also should not burn
the bridges between her and the EU, and continue to improve herself in every branch both
domestically and internationally, to become one of the developed countries.

 

This article is written by Ayça Süngü

Visits: 504

FPI PRESIDENT PROF. DR. HÜSEYİN BAĞCI IS LIVE ON HABERTURK TV

haberturk

Visits: 278

How NATO Can Avoid a Strategic Decoupling in the Eastern Mediterranean

Since an extraordinary naval standoff occurred between French and Turkish warships in the Eastern Mediterranean in early June, Paris and Ankara have been trading increasingly sharp verbal blows over their respective actions in implementing the UN arms embargo on Libya. While this may appear to be just another moment of friction between NATO allies, particularly with Turkey, it is not. This incident represents a more deep-seated strategic dilemma for NATO as well as an increasingly stark divide between the European Union and Turkey.

This strategic dilemma is rooted in Turkey’s new regional foreign and security policy, based in part on its “Blue Homeland” doctrine. The implementation of this doctrine has caused a series of serious incidents that have been observed by Turkey’s allies but fleetingly, if rarely, addressed. Encountering little resistance, Turkey believes its actions to be largely accepted (as some are, such as limiting Russian influence). But the totality of Turkey’s policies and actions have now reached a point of dangerous escalation, which could substantially challenge the coherence of NATO’s collective defense posture in the Mediterranean and weaken its political cohesion. Turkey’s actions threaten to hinder vital NATO-EU cooperation in the region as well.

To avoid this, allies should approach the growing instability in the Mediterranean through an integrative policy that seeks to deescalate tensions and define, with Ankara, common interests by identifying some agreed principles to guide regional behavior. If Turkey is unwilling to join such an initiative, greater transatlantic tensions lie ahead.

Turkey’s Blue Homeland Ambitions
Turkey’s Blue Homeland Doctrine has its origins in a plan drawn up by Turkish admiral Cem Gurdeniz in 2006. It sets out an ambitious goal to underline and expand, through assertive diplomacy and military means, Turkey’s influence in the Mediterranean, Aegean, and Black Seas while enabling access to energy and other economic resources. President Erdogan adopted it in 2015 as an integral part of a national strategy of “forward defense” in the context of his sustained drive to assert Turkish independence in all aspects of foreign policy to include influence in its surrounding regions.

Manifestations of the doctrine were on full display during the February 2019 Mavi Vatan (Blue Homeland) exercise, which was the largest combat exercise since the establishment of the Turkish Navy and was conducted simultaneously in the Aegean, Black, and Eastern Mediterranean Seas. The Turkish government-controlled media described the exercise as a “war rehearsal.” Another example has been Turkey’s assertive energy claims around the disputed Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). In February 2018, Turkey sent naval vessels to stop an Italian drilling vessel on its way to drill for gas off Cyprus’ coast. Then in the spring of 2019, Ankara sent ships into Cypriot waters, escorted by the Turkish navy, to conduct its own drilling activities. European Union member states unanimously denounced those “illegal actions,” expressed their support for Cyprus by restricting EU pre-accession aid to Turkey, and suspended negotiations of an air transport agreement. Israel also encountered Turkey’s naval activism when its oceanographic ship, Bat Galim, operating in Cypriot waters in cooperation with Nicosia, was forced out by Turkish warships. Regional tensions reached a new high in November 2019 when Turkey signed an agreement with Libya’s Government of National Accord. The agreement defines a maritime border between the two countries in the Mediterranean Sea and permits Turkey to defend Libya’s maritime interests (which extend to six nautical miles from Crete) as well as allowing for joint extraction of energy resources in the Mediterranean.

To date, Turkey has met little resistance from either the European Union, NATO, or the United States in response to its actions, with the exception of harsh words and limited sanctions. Some EU parliamentarians have denounced Ankara’s “gunboat diplomacy,” and EU high representative Borrell released a declaration stating that EU countries are “growing increasingly concerned about the recent escalations from Turkey.” EU foreign affairs ministers convened on July 13, asking Ankara to provide “clarifications” on its actions in the Eastern Mediterranean, Libya, and Syria and asking High Representative Borrell to provide options to reinforce the sanctions imposed on Turkey for its gas and oil drilling activities in Cyprus’ EEZ. Secretary of State Pompeo has called Turkey’s illegal drilling in Cypriot waters “unacceptable,” yet this is unlikely to be followed by concrete action given that the Trump administration has not yet imposed legally mandated sanctions on Turkey for its purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system.

This lack of a holistic and united transatlantic response to Turkey’s naval actions has emboldened Ankara to take further actions, particularly at a time when Erdogan seeks to project independent power abroad and heighten nationalistic sentiment at home to distract the Turkish population from great economic difficulties. The restoration of Hagia Sophia as a mosque is a powerful example of this policy in action coupled with its military interventions in Libya and Syria. Absent international resolution of the Cypriot and Libyan disputes (which are on the cusp of bringing in other powers, such as Egypt and Israel), President Erdogan has (rightly) concluded that Turkey has more to gain by its unilateral use of hard power and reaching its own diplomatic agreements that suits its needs rather than through broader diplomatic engagement and dialogue.

Escalating Tensions with Allies
As Turkey secures its regional interests in the Eastern Mediterranean, it sets itself on a collision course with official EU and NATO operations, which undermines broader regional and international stability. The first major collision occurred in April 2020 when the European Union launched Operation EUNAVFOR MED IRINI to implement the UN Security Council arms embargo on Libya. Despite a lack of policy unity over Libya, EU countries agreed on a common objective: the importance of preventing further military escalation by taking joint action to enforce the UN embargo. Turkey denounced IRINI as taking one-sided approach to the embargo that focuses only on constraining the Government of National Accord, which Turkey supports. The U.S. State Department seems to agree. Assistant Secretary of State David Schenker sided with the Turkish interpretation, questioning whether the EU mission was “serious,” because it only focused on interdicting Turkish materiel and not preventing Russian military equipment from reaching Libya.

On June 10 2020, Operation IRINI unsuccessfully tried to investigate a Tanzanian-flagged cargo ship, escorted by Turkish warships and headed toward Libya. The Turkish ships prevented the Greek navy from inspecting the vessel, claiming the cargo was “medical equipment.” Tensions further escalated that same day when the French Navy ship Le Courbet, operating in the Eastern Mediterranean in the framework of NATO’s Operation Sea Guardian, a maritime security operation launched by NATO in 2016 to support maritime situation awareness, counterterrorism, and security capacity building, tried to inspect the same civilian cargo ship. But the Turkish escort intervened again, leading this time to a more aggressive and dangerous incident. According to the French government, Turkish warships turned their fire-control radars on the French warship (the preliminary phase before launching a weapon on a target) and pointed guns at the warship to dissuade any attempts at inspecting the cargo. Ankara rejected these claims, calling them “groundless,” and instead accused the French ship of conducting a “high-speed and dangerous maneuver.” Speaking to reporters in Paris this week, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said the United States was “very sympathetic with France” in its dispute with Turkey, and “NATO allies shouldn’t be turning fire control radars on one another.” At France’s request, NATO has launched a formal investigation into the incident, but the results of the investigation have not been released publicly.

The Risk of a Mediterranean Strategic Decoupling
Since the incident, tensions between Turkey and France have escalated as both presidents have used very strong rhetoric against the other. Although it might be tempting to hope that tensions will fade, they are likely to escalate again and have major implications for the European Union, NATO, and the rule of law.

First, tensions have now reached a level where they risk significantly impacting NATO. Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 system against the wishes of the United States and its NATO allies, its unilateral military interventions into Syria against Kurdish forces, its frequent military interventions into northern Iraq (its most recent air and ground operation was in mid-June), its violations of Iran (and likely Venezuela) sanctions, its continued probing of Greek airspace, and its recent veto over important NATO plans for the defense of NATO’s eastern flank (which was suddenly lifted days after the naval incident) leads one to conclude that Turkey is increasingly pursuing its national interests over NATO’s collective defense interests. The decision by the United States and other F-35 program partners to remove Turkey from the program (although it continues to contribute to the supply chain) will diminish NATO defenses in general as well as its readiness, interoperability, and effectiveness of NATO’s air defense capabilities. Likewise, the announcement of France’s withdrawal of its forces from NATO’s Operation Sea Guardian following the naval incident with Turkey reduces much-needed naval capabilities in the Eastern Mediterranean for both the European Union and NATO to jointly enforce the UN arms embargo in Libya.

NATO has always struggled to articulate and deploy forces to protect and defend its southern flank and has devoted too little strategic attention to the Mediterranean over the last few years while powers such as Russia have consistently reinforced their military presence. With a dramatic increase in conflict as well as migration challenges, NATO and the European Union need to be an effective and unified presence in the Mediterranean despite disagreements with Turkey. The European Union relies on NATO intelligence and other support to execute many of its missions, so a diminished NATO also diminishes the European Union.

Absent more focus on the Mediterranean, Ankara and Southern European NATO members may conclude that the alliance has become, de facto, exclusively focused on its eastern flank. These members may see to protect and pursue their own interests in the region as well, modeling Turkey’s behavior of ad hoc arrangements, new regional alignments, and reversible bilateral understandings, thus creating even greater regional instability.

Second, these tensions reveal troubling divergences between Turkey and the European Union. From the EU perspective, Ankara’s aggressive pursuit of energy interests, disregard for the rule of law within Turkey (which should concern NATO as well), and use of migrants to pressure the European Union and destabilize the European neighborhood are at odds with EU values and interests. In the case of Cyprus, the European Union cannot be an unbiased actor. It supports its member state Cyprus and its ability to advance its economic interests within its EEZ according to international law, as the European Union would with any country elsewhere in the world. And while Turkey is free to pursue its national interests at the expense of collective European interests, its actions move it away from a more constructive partnership or strengthened economic ties with the European Union. And a more problematic EU-Turkey relationship further complicates conflict resolution efforts in the Western Balkans, Ukraine, and the Caucasus.

Eastern Mediterranean Principles
The preamble of NATO’s Charter states that its members pledge to “promote stability and well-being in the North Atlantic area.” All NATO allies, including Turkey, need to promote stability in the Eastern Mediterranean. A first step would be to create an agreed set of principles to include: (1) ensure that all regional partners reap the benefits of energy exploration in the region, with a path toward equitable sharing of energy revenues acting as a confidence-building measure toward restarting the Cyprus peace process; (2) contain Russian influence and presence in the region; (3) ensure NATO’s freedom of action from the Black Sea through to the Mediterranean; (4) work toward regional stability in the Middle East and North Africa region, including counterterrorism efforts; (5) uphold international legal norms and UN resolutions, such as the UN arms embargo on Libya and efforts to reach a cease-fire, as well as countries’ territorial or maritime integrity (regardless of existing disputes); and (6) redouble efforts to avoid future maritime incidents in the Eastern Mediterranean between NATO allies by establishing new procedures.

Stronger U.S. political and security involvement in the region will help strengthen NATO’s resolve in the Eastern Mediterranean, be a bulwark against Russia’s growing military presence, and better balance tensions between France and Turkey. The European Union (and France in particular) will need to identify pragmatic ways to engage with Turkey on a range of issues and not simply denounce its actions. As Turkey’s economic situation deteriorates, greater economic opportunities, such as expanding the EU bilateral trade relationship with Turkey or increasing U.S. foreign direct investment, might encourage Ankara to participate in the development of a regional framework of principles. Unfortunately, these relationships have grown very fragile as tensions have risen, and Turkey’s unilateral actions have significantly destabilized the region. Hopefully, refocusing on a set of agreed principles and incentivizing progress can restore NATO unity and restore focus on protecting its southern flank.

Visits: 381

DEEP SEA RIVALS: EUROPE, TURKEY, AND NEW EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN CONFLICT LINES

The eastern Mediterranean is becoming ever more perilous as geopolitical fault lines steadily enmesh the region. These rifts emerge from the Cyprus ‘frozen conflict’, competition for valuable gas fields, and the increasingly entangled wars in Libya and Syria.

Overview: Fear and loathing in the Eastern Mediterranean

Asli Aydıntaşbaş Julien Barnes-Dacey Cinzia Bianco Hugh Lovatt Tarek Megerisi

In a world of pandemics, forever wars, and great power showdowns, it might come as a surprise that Europe’s next crisis is emerging from disputes over maritime law. In the eastern Mediterranean, a scramble is under way between countries in the region for access to recently discovered gas fields. Conflicting legal claims to the fields are merging with old and new conflicts, and have led to the creation of a new geopolitical front in the eastern Mediterranean that should cause Europeans substantial concern. At the heart of these tensions lies the unresolved dispute in Cyprus and long-standing antagonism between Turkey and Greece, around which a broader front of anti-Turkey forces is lining up. These disputes have also now grown to encompass the civil wars in Libya and Syria, and have drawn in states from as far afield as the Gulf and Russia.

The eastern Mediterranean’s potential for escalation was evident in February 2020, when France deployed its Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier to defensively stalk Turkish frigates sailing near to the contested gas fields close to Cyprus. The fact that NATO allies are staring each other down on the European Union’s doorstep should cause all Europeans to pay greater attention to the region. The escalating conflict in Libya and the rivalry between Turkey and its Gulf rivals now directly intersect with the European-Turkish disputes over gas and territory. What happens in the eastern Mediterranean is no longer a peripheral issue for Europe.

The EU has a direct stake in the matter, but remains divided on how to approach it. The bloc has a significant interest in upholding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Cyprus, securing its own energy interests, and advancing a political resolution to the conflict in Libya to manage refugee and terrorism challenges. The anti-Turkey front that has converged in the eastern Mediterranean is led by EU member states Cyprus, Greece, and France. They, in turn, are working with players from further afield, such the United Arab Emirates, whose intensifying competition with Turkey is a defining feature of the strained – and ever-more destabilising – situation in the Middle East. But, collectively, these countries’ activity risks entrenching geopolitical fault lines, with consequences for Europe as a whole, not least the crucial relationship with Turkey.

To address this, the EU and its member states need to change tack and pursue a wider, inclusive deal with Turkey. They will need to incrementally agree on the components of this new bargain and, critically, base it on pragmatic engagement with Ankara rather than escalatory measures against it. Europe’s decision-makers are aware that they cannot afford a complete diplomatic breakdown, much less a kinetic confrontation, with Turkey given the world of trouble already present on their eastern and southern flanks.

This awareness needs to translate into a policy shift in which Europeans remain committed to key policy principles – namely, the sovereignty of Cypriot and, therefore, EU territory – but also recognise the dangers of current tensions with Ankara, as well as the convergence of Middle Eastern conflict lines within areas of their dispute. This approach can only succeed if Turkey also demonstrates its support for it by scaling back its drilling activity and naval presence in the eastern Mediterranean. Europeans should incentivise Turkey to do so by dialling down the recent military and political measures they have put in place. This will help prevent the dispute from slipping into increasingly zero-sum and dangerous positioning, while dispelling the impression that Europe has ganged up on Turkey in a common cause with Arab states.

NEW GAS FIELDS AND THE ANTI-TURKEY CLUB
Cyprus is central to the eastern Mediterranean’s rising tensions. After more than 40 years of frozen conflict, over the past decade hopes rose that the discovery of significant gas reserves could improve the chances of a settlement between the island’s Turkish and Greek communities. In the process, gas exports from Cyprus would help the EU diversify its energy supplies and boost regional cooperation. In time, however, a different impulse took over – one that is now increasing tension between not just Cyprus and Turkey but also between wider regional players.

A collective interest in leveraging eastern Mediterranean gas reserves spurred increased cooperation between Greece, Cyprus, Israel, and Egypt, as well as key energy companies from Italy and France. This grouping has grown to encompass Italy itself, Jordan, and Palestine, culminating in the creation of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF) in Cairo in January 2019. Noticeably absent is Turkey – despite its overlapping maritime claims, vast domestic market, and potential as a transit route for eastern Mediterranean gas exports. This coalition has received the backing of the United States, whose relationship with Turkey is also strained due to divergences on a growing number of issues, most recently Ankara’s purchase of Russian-made S-400 air defence systems.

Although the desire to create a geopolitical hub that excludes Turkey was not the organisation’s founding purpose, it has grown to define the emerging coalition. Perceptions of the EMGF as an anti-Turkey club were bolstered when it extended its remit to include regional security cooperation and joint military drills around Cyprus. Greece and Cyprus have sought to leverage the undersea gas reserves and the creation of the EMGF grouping to improve their own political standing – at Turkey’s expense. The forum offers both countries a means to strengthen a broader alliance to counter Turkish influence. Israel and Egypt maintain acrimonious relations with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, while the forum’s anti-Turkey slant has also attracted the UAE, which is engaged in an acute regional rivalry with Turkey. Like Egypt, the UAE takes issue with Turkey’s support for Muslim Brotherhood movements across the region.

This fault line is starkest in Libya, where Turkey and the UAE provide military support to opposite sides in the deepening civil war. In November 2019, Ankara and the internationally recognised Libyan government struck a partnership agreement on a maritime boundary, which created an exclusive economic zone that cuts across Greek and Cypriot interests. The move seeks to preclude the proposed EastMed pipeline, which would bring gas to European markets from Israel, Egypt, and Cyprus. Turkey has also recently applied for licences to start drilling off the coast of Libya.

This agreement caused Cyprus and Greece to line up behind Abu Dhabi’s man in Libya, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, who France has long supported. But these fault lines also extend into Syria, with supporters of both sides of the civil war hiring Syrian fighters. This draws the Libya and Syria conflicts closer together – and gives Russia a greater opportunity to cement its position in the Mediterranean.

TURKEY: BACKED INTO A CORNER?
The Turkish government has long suffered from a chronic siege mentality, believing itself to be surrounded by hostile forces that threaten its core interests. The formation of the EMGF appears to vindicate such concerns.

Turkey has little room for manoeuvre to its south and west, despite having the longest contiguous coastline in the eastern Mediterranean. Ankara also believes that making concessions in this part of the sea would be tantamount to conceding to the Greek position on various maritime disputes between the two countries in the Aegean. Turkey’s difficulties are exacerbated by its failure to discover gas in its local waters. Given its own economic woes, Turkey will not cede the potentially lucrative exploitation rights around Cyprus without representation for Turkish Cypriots. Turkey has long favoured a model that allocates maritime rights based on continental shelves. But this differs from the approach adopted by European states, which is based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea), to which Turkey is not a signatory.

From Ankara’s perspective, there are clear links between this eastern Mediterranean coalition – as embodied by the EMGF – and wider regional conflicts, as well as the Emirati-led campaign against Turkey. Turkey believes that a slowly emerging superstructure of political, economic, and security interests will inevitably challenge its regional position. This has transformed an economic competition into an existential struggle. Turkey has responded in its traditional fashion – with escalation: namely, by increasing its military presence in Libya and concluding the maritime agreement with the Tripoli-based government. In parallel, Turkey has deployed naval expeditions to explore gas fields claimed by the Republic of Cyprus and to chase away research vessels operating under Republic of Cyprus licences.

NAVIGATING THE REGION’S CHOPPY WATERS
The EU’s current eastern Mediterranean policy centres on a ‘soft containment’ of Turkey, as marked by its introduction of new sanctions on the country in February 2020. These measures came at the request of Cyprus, Greece, France, and Italy in a bid to curtail Turkey’s predatory drilling expeditions. This dynamic was further highlighted in May 2020 in a joint declaration by Cyprus, France, Greece, Egypt, and the UAE, which “urged Turkey to fully respect the sovereignty and sovereign rights of all states in their maritime zones in the eastern Mediterranean … [and] strongly condemned Turkey’s military interference in Libya”. Turkey responded by accusing the states of forming an “alliance of evil” that would create “regional chaos and instability”.

Clearly, the EU is right to stick up for the sovereignty of the Cyprus and its maritime claims: the bloc’s non-recognition of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) is a pillar of its legal policy on the island. Nevertheless, the exclusionary approach towards Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean has contributed to escalation in Cyprus, as well as Libya, where European interests relating to migration and terrorism are directly under threat. This wider confrontation has also drawn the UAE more deeply into the Mediterranean theatre, a development that should be as much a cause for European concern as Turkey’s widening role. The threat of a confrontation with Turkey on Libya and wider eastern Mediterranean issues risks destabilising the long-standing refugee deal between Ankara and the EU. It could also weaken the EU position on Syria if, as has been mooted, some member states re-engage with Bashar al-Assad as a means of increasing pressure on Turkey, which maintains a military presence in northern Syria. More broadly, unless the pressure eases, this could further worsen Turkey’s relationship with the US, NATO, and the EU more generally.

There is no doubt that the EU needs a more functional relationship with Turkey to protect its core interests in migration, energy, and the Middle East. The EU should now adopt a different approach – one that recognises the need for more constructive engagement with Turkey, and that highlights their shared interests in trade, energy, and regional security. This does not have to involve a miraculous resolution of the Cyprus conflict – or, at the other end of the scale, a move towards the two-state solution supported by hawks in Turkey and Turkish Cypriots. But it might involve the recognition of some Turkish claims around the rights of Turkish Cypriots to the region’s energy spoils. And it should certainly include a rejection of active European participation in the destabilising regional conflict between Ankara and Abu Dhabi. The EU needs to carefully advance the following confidence-building steps that are in sync with core EU principles.

Cyprus
The highly contested, internationalised, and multilayered nature of problems in the eastern Mediterranean makes it impossible to address all sources of tension in one go. Instead, the EU should view the Cyprus conflict as the symbolic heart of the crisis and as a potential way to advance wider de-escalatory measures. While holding firm to its core principles, the EU should explore avenues for addressing technical issues related to gas exploitation. These are easier to engage with and resolve than more ideologically charged political questions around a final resolution of the conflict or maritime law. Besides allowing for meaningful headway on important issues, this approach would build much-needed confidence between the parties.

Firstly, European states should push the Cyprus and Turkish Cypriots towards technical-level discussions, with the goal of ensuring that all Cypriots can benefit from the island’s gas reserves – whether they live in the north or the south. Turkish Cypriots can be represented without needing to recognise the TRNC or legitimise the Turkish military presence on the island. As the EU and the UN already regard Turkish Cypriot leaders as interlocutors on intercommunal issues, they should bring them into discussions on hydrocarbons. This process could be underpinned by a moratorium on gas exploration in Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone, while Turkey would need to pull its drilling ships and navy out of the area.

Bring Turkey into the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum
A wider agreement with Turkey would have to include Turkish access to the regional gas network, both in its current form and in future infrastructure developments. The current configuration of the EMGF as a conduit for political and security developments is aggravating regional tensions. For energy, security, and economic reasons, Europe and Turkey have similar imperatives to reach a deal with each other. The EU should propose Turkish access to the EMGF as an entry point to a wider deal. This would also help improve relations between Turkey and Egypt, and ease exploration and development tension between the EU and Turkey.

Linking up Libya
Enhanced European cooperation with Turkey on Libya is another necessary dimension of a more effective EU approach to the eastern Mediterranean. Turkey’s deal with the Libyan government has angered much of Europe. But Europe’s current response risks marginalising it in the region – and will only prolong the war in Libya, given Turkey’s centrality to any resolution there.

Europeans need to adopt an approach that not only presses Turkey to take a seat at the negotiating table but also provides it with incentives to do so. Europe should simultaneously ask the same of Haftar’s external backers, who in many ways bear greater responsibility than Turkey for the recent escalation in Libya.

The EU should use the assets of its recently deployed naval operation and the opening created by Tripoli’s Turkish-backed military gains to press the UAE to agree to a ceasefire and meaningful political talks. Europe should express frustration with not only Ankara but also Abu Dhabi for its role in escalating the regional conflict. This step would help convince Turkey that the EU is not singling it out. A balanced European approach to Libya, including an impartial attempt to monitor arms-embargo violations, would help persuade Turkey that the southern Mediterranean is not turning into another arena to exclude Turkish influence.

Progress on wider maritime talks would also help advance this effort, given that Turkey’s position in Libya is partly driven by concerns that other actors are looking to squeeze it out in the Mediterranean.

The EU can take steps to ease deepening eastern Mediterranean tensions in accordance with European interests. It should adopt a broad-based approach that recognises and seeks to reconcile the complex linkages that now criss-cross the eastern Mediterranean. The EU has the capacity to ensure that the accumulated benefit of a wider deal prevents backsliding elsewhere. Ultimately, a wider EU approach would aim to turn the current situation on its head, taking advantage of the highly interconnected nature of the issues and of shared interests to create a mutually acceptable stabilising track. The depth of the problems means that no single, all-encompassing bargain is possible. But Europeans could stitch together a patchwork of more self-contained deals as they work towards establishing a ‘new bargain’ with Turkey.

Given the potential for instability in the eastern Mediterranean to affect core EU interests – migration, counter-terrorism, energy security, sovereignty, and more – European states not directly involved in the overlapping conflicts should help improve the relationship with Turkey.

Countries such as Germany have highlighted how they could work to support the political process in Libya. Berlin has already provided a neutral forum for all states to try to agree on core principles. But so far it has failed, partly because of a lack of European consensus on broader eastern Mediterranean issues and relations with Turkey. This was demonstrated most recently by Turkey’s recent pressure on Malta to withdraw its support from the EU’s Mediterranean mission, Operation IRINI. As is so often the case, a lack of unity is fatally undermining Europe’s attempts to become a relevant actor, and is creating further space for other actors beyond Turkey and the UAE – namely Russia – to fill the void.

 

This article taken from www.ecfr.eu

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Cyprus: Situation Status Quo

Cyprus: Situation Status Quo

By: Seyfi Tashan

In his article that appeared in the Hürriyet Daily News of February 4th, 2020 columnist Yusuf Kanlı analyzes the pre-Presidential election programs of political parties in Northern Cyprus and informs us that a great majority of party leaders support federation as a solution to the Cyprus problem.

On the other hand, the Greek Cypriots also support a federal solution. But the contents of federation claims on both sides contrast each other. While Turkish Cypriot federation supporters demand a federation based on the principle of absolute equality, the Greek Cypriot side wants to put the role of the Turks to a minority status under the title of federation. Many countries in the world support the Greek interpretation while the UN’s attitude is unclear and shifting all the time, postponing a clear decision since the leaders of the two peoples in the Island began to negotiate a solution almost 70 years ago. Under these conditions and due to the firm attitude of Turkey on equality in Cyprus even though not clearly declared support of the Western World the current situation cannot be expected to change in the near future.

It is likely that hydrocarbon discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean have made it more lucrative for Greeks to not to change their position and a s a result this complex situation in Cyprus cannot be expected to change in the near future. Therefore, the current situation in Cyprus, a Turkish Cypriot State in the North and a Greek Cypriot State in the South, seems to have become the status quo and we must look at the future accordingly.

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CYPRUS AND THE EUROPEAN UNION: THE RELEVANT FACTORS – ANDREW MANGO

CYPRUS AND THE EUROPEAN UNION:

THE RELEVANT FACTORS (*)

                                                                           ANDREW MANGO

              There are no examples of the reconstitution of multiethnic societies, after these have broken up into separate ethnic components.

 

Negotiations are continuing between the European Union and the government of the Republic of Cyprus – a government which is composed exclusively of Greek Cypriots and which rules the southern two-thirds of the island inhabited by Greeks. According to a statement made on 19 March by Günther Verheugen, EU Commissioner for Enlargement, the negotiations are one third complete. At its meeting in Helsinki on 10-11 December 1999, the Council of Ministers of the European Union declared that “the Union should be in a position to welcome new member states from the end of 2002…” The (Greek-controlled) Republic of Cyprus is one of these states, since the EU promised in 1995 “to incorporate Cyprus in the next stage of its development”. In the Helsinki declaration the Council of Ministers underlined that “a political settlement will facilitate the accession of Cyprus to the European Union.” But, it added: “If no settlement has been reached by the completion of the accession negotiations, the Council’s decision on accession will be made without the above being a precondition. In this, the Council will take account of all relevant factors.” What are these factors at the present time?

The most important relevant factor is, surely, the de facto situation on the Island. Contact between the Greek and Turkish communities was severed in December 1963. As a result, for the past 36 years Greeks and Turks on the island have lived separate lives. They do not learn each other’s language in school; they do not fraternize; they do not cooperate either in the public or the private sector. Moreover, since 1974, the communities have regrouped in two ethnically homogeneous areas, where they have ruled themselves in a stable and democratic manner. There are de facto two separate states in Cyprus.

 

The second relevant factor is that there are no examples of the reconstitution of multiethnic societies, after these have broken up into separate ethnic components. True, the international community is currently trying hard to reconstruct multiethnic societies in Bosnia and Kosovo. But results have been meagre.

In Bosnia-Herzegovina, the European Union has set itself a limited aim: to form a weak central government and allow the federated states a maximum of self-rule. But even within one of these federated states, which, to complicate matters, is itself a federation of Catholic Croats and Muslim Bosnians, the EU has not been able to reunify the city of Mostar. There is some progress, but it is both limited and slow. It is proving impossible to revive the past pattern of ethnic settlement.

In Kosovo, the situation is worse. Not only have the international authorities on the ground been unable to re-establish former settlement patterns, but the geographical separation of the two main ethnic communities is becoming ever more pronounced.

So much for the two attempts to reverse the flow of history – a flow that in the last two centuries has moved steadily in the direction of homogeneous nation states.

Elsewhere the realities produced by conflict have been accepted: Germans are not returning to Czech Sudetenland or to western Poland, Muslim and Hindu refugees are not moving back across the partition line in the Indian sub-continent; Palestinian refugees are not returning to what has become Israel.

Accepting the reality of the break-up of multiethnic societies does not, of course, mean that one should do nothing in the face of ethnic cleansing. One should prevent it or stop it when it is still possible, precisely because its nature is irreversible.

The third relevant factor is that a federation – the system of government, which the international community has in mind for Cyprus – requires the support of the inhabitants of its constituent parts. Where this is lacking, the federation breaks up. This has happened in the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia and elsewhere. As President Denktaş has said “a federation is the end of the road – not the beginning”. In other words, communities, which are to come together in a federation, must first of all develop the will to federate. The UN formula that any solution of the Cyprus problem must be viable and acceptable to both sides takes cognizance of this fact. The Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou has said that he did not want a successful divorce in Cyprus, but a happy marriage. A marriage cannot be valid, let alone happy, without mutual consent. At present this consent in lacking in Cyprus: the Greeks, who violated the 1960 Cyprus constitution in order to gain full control of a unitary state, have accepted a federal solution, at least for the time being. The Turks want a confederation of two sovereign states in Cyprus.

This leads us to the fourth relevant factor, viz. that a confederation of two initially sovereign Cyprus states does not preclude an eventual closer union. If a confederation functions well, it could lead to a federation.

The fifth relevant factor is that the absence of bloodshed in Cyprus, achieved since 1974, is a boon to be treasured. There has been no bloodshed because the Island’s inhabitants are secure in their lives, homes and property, and because men of violence have been kept apart. To put it crudely, there has been no inter-communal violence because there has been no inter-communal contact. Any settlement, which jeopardizes this security, born of separation, is likely to lead to a renewal of violence.

More specifically, any attempt to reunite Cyprus without a preliminary agreement on the borders of the two national areas, on reciprocal property claims and on the criteria of citizenship would be a recipe for conflict.

The sixth relevant factor is that there is no Cyprus nation, as anyone who has been to the island knows full well. What is called a “Cyprus identity” is nothing more than the fading memory of eighty years of British rule. Otherwise, there is no Cyprus nation any more than there is a Cretan nation in Greece or a Cilician nation in Turkey. There are Greeks and there are Turks, and their two motherlands, Greece and Turkey: two peoples with different languages, cultures and aspirations.

Today Greece is a member of the EU. Turkey has only recently been designated a candidate for membership, with no date set for the beginning of membership negotiations. If Cyprus preceded Turkey in membership of the EU (an outcome which the current timetable presupposes), the two motherlands would have unequal access to the island, and equality between the two communities would be impossible. To give one example, if Cyprus became a member of the EU at a time when Turkey would still not be a member, any Greek from the mainland would have the right to go to Cyprus, buy property, settle and start a business there. Turks from the mainland would not enjoy any of these rights, unless there were special provisions, which, however, would be difficult to reconcile with basic EU rules.

This would upset the balance between the two communities established by the 1960 agreements under which an independent Cyprus Republic was set up. According to Article 1 of the Treaty of Guarantee, the Republic of Cyprus undertook not to participate, in whole or in part, in any political or economic union with any state whatsoever. Article 50 of the Cyprus Constitution gave the Turkish Vice-President the right to veto the membership of Cyprus in any international organization, unless both Greece and Turkey were members. EU lawyers have expended a great deal of ingenuity in arguing that these legal provisions do not invalidate the application for full membership of the EU made by the Cyprus government without the approval of the elected leadership of the Turkish community. But no amount of ingenuity could disguise the fact that the consequences of Cypriot membership at a time when Turkey is not a member of the EU would run counter to the spirit of the 1960 agreements.

Most inhabitants of Cyprus, whether Greek or Turkish, would like to become citizens of the EU. But Turkish Cypriots desire also security and equality. They can achieve both within the EU only if Turkey became a full member.

By designating Turkey as a candidate, the EU has implicitly declared its belief that Greece and Turkey can establish the kind of relationship, which two member states must entertain with each other. A dialogue has begun between the two countries, and, at the time of writing, some peripheral agreements have been reached. It is to be hoped that the two countries will also reach an agreement on Cyprus which would be acceptable to the two communities on the island, or, more properly, that the two communities will be able to agree among themselves and that their two motherlands would thus see their conflict over Cyprus resolved. Until this happens, the best course is for Greece and Turkey to put the problem of Cyprus to one side, and pursue agreement in other areas.

In practice, this is what is happening at the present time. Several years ago, Greece and Turkey had agreed on a similar approach at a meeting in Davos. But “the spirit of Davos” soon evaporated, as the Greek government, for domestic political reasons, tried to link progress on Cyprus with progress in other areas. Now, too, in spite of the realistic understanding that the Cyprus problem should not figure in the present phase of bilateral negotiations, there is always the danger that continued disagreement in Cyprus may involve the two motherlands.

Similarly, the problem of Cyprus does not figure directly in the current negotiations between the EU and Turkey. These negotiations concern the text of the Partnership Accession document, which will chart the way for Turkey’s convergence with the EU. Cyprus will be taken up in the next stage – the political dialogue that will follow agreement on Partnership Accession. But, as we have already seen, the EU is concurrently negotiating with the Republic of Cyprus on the subject of the island’s accession as a full member. Inevitably, negotiations with the Greek Cypriots will have a bearing on negotiations with Turkey. The effect could well be damaging.

There must be consistency in the aims, which the EU sets itself. This, surely, is the most relevant factor, which the Council of Ministers has to bear in mind as it pursues its negotiations with the (Greek) Republic of Cyprus. Accepting Cyprus as a member state in advance of a settlement would create problems both in Greek-Turkish relations and in the new relationship between the EU and Turkey. If the EU wants Greece and Turkey to get on, if it wants to see Turkey eventually as a member, and in any case as a constructive partner, it should at least delay accepting the Greek part of Cyprus into the fold of  full   memhership.  Otherwise,   the.   EU  would   negate   its   own purpose.

A Cyprus settlement needs a great deal of time. Instead of pressing for a quick settlement, the EU (and the international community) should seek preliminary agreements (on borders, property, de facto mutual recognition, etc.), until, with the passage of time, the wish for a closer association develops in both parts of Cyprus.

In his statement on 19 March, Commissioner Günther Verheugen has again appealed to Turkish Cypriots to take part in the negotiations with the EU, and has warned that there would not be a second set of negotiations. But this is putting the cart before the horse. Turkish Cypriots cannot take part in the current negotiations because this would mean, first, recognizing the validity of the application made by the Greek-controlled government of the Republic of Cyprus and its validity as the interlocutor of the EU for matters concerning the whole of Cyprus. It would mean secondly, accepting the consequences of accession, which, in the present circumstances and in the absence of a preliminary intercommunal settlement, would endanger their security and their title to their homes. Logically and practically, the slow search for a settlement on the island must precede any change in the attitude of Turkish Cypriots.

In the meantime there are steps, which can usefully be taken to reduce tension in Cyprus. One such step would be the creation of a permanent liaison committee on which the authorities of the Republic of Cyprus and the TRNC would be represented. If this were done, meetings between the two sides would not have to be arranged ad hoc by the United Nations. A UN official could, if necessary, chair a permanent liaison committee. The committee would deal with current problems and also seek to eliminate obstacles to closer contact between the two communities. There have been several meetings organized ad hoc and preceded by laborious preparations, between private citizens from the two communities – businessmen, trade unionists, politicians (usually opposition politicians), etc. The time ha now come for authorities from the two sides to come together on regular basis. A permanent liaison committee would foster habits of working together without which no federation or even confederation could function.True, the representation in the liaison committee of the sets of authorities on the island would imply mutual de facto recognition. But even the current proximity talks carry implication, for they would have been both impossible and pointless unless Presidents Clerides and Denktaş recognized each other as leaders of their respective communities. A permanent liaison committee, which would embody this existing implicit recognition, could become with time the nucleus of a confederal and, if intercommunal confidence allowed it, eventually of a federal government

The reduction of antagonism between national communities requires a great deal of time. Europe has waited for more than fifty years for Poland, the Czech Republic and Germany to begin thinking of an association, which would allow their respective citizens to own property in each other’s country. More than a century after Schleswig-Holstein dispute between Germany and Denmark, there are still restrictions, which apply to Germans wishing to settle north of border. So the idea that communities, which have fallen apart, quickly come together again is not only unwise; it is dangerous. It is a recipe for trouble. Whole generations must pass, before memories conflict – particularly if there has been bloodshed – can be forgotten, and a new spirit can arise.

There is no comparison with the reunification of Germany Germans on both sides of the border were kept apart forcibly by Soviet power. They were one nation, which reunited once the Russian  army – the force that had kept them apart – had departed. In Cyprus there are clearly two nations, and the Turkish side wants the continued protection of the Turkish army. So there is no similarity between people who had been artificially kept apart and people who want to stay apart in order to be free and safe in their homes. Two conclusions follow from this premise:

First, any attempt to hurry the process would be self defeating, and any arrangements based on the false presumption that antagonism no longer existed would be built on sand.

Second, transitional arrangements are needed to keep the peace and foster habits of cooperation while antagonism gradually simmers down.

I am not content, however, with the pessimistic observation that Greeks and Turks in Cyprus cannot be reunited today. What I want to stress is that in the meantime one must reduce the danger of antagonism, and set up a mechanism to reduce tension, while recognizing facts on the ground. More generally, one must stop Cyprus from being a bomb, which could explode at any moment. The destructive potential of the Cyprus dispute is greater than its intrinsic value. It is a danger to world peace.

Some years ago a Greek Cypriot politician was quoted as saying “I do not want Cyprus to start a Third World War. But if that is the price for winning our just cause, so be it.” This is not a price, which any of us should be willing to pay. We do not want Cyprus to start a world war, or even a Greek-Turkish war. So measures are needed now to defuse the bomb. I suggest that the creation of a permanent liaison committee bringing together the representatives of Greek and Turkish authorities on the island would help defuse it.

I believe that the EU should facilitate such transitional arrangements, instead of forcing the issue by conducting accession negotiations with a government which exercises authority in one part only of the candidate country. Recently there have been some signs of realism: President Denktaş, has been received by the German Foreign Minister; the fact that the government of the Republic of Cyprus does not rule the Turks on the island has been admitted. On the other hand, as we have seen, pressure is continued to be brought on the Turks in Cyprus to enter negotiations against their will and against their interests. The sooner this approach is abandoned, the better.

This does not mean renouncing forever the aim of accepting into the Union the whole island of Cyprus, but postponing it until the population of the island reaches agreement on its future governance. For, in the last resort, the EU cannot decide what kind of Cyprus it is to accept within its ranks. Only the people of Cyprus, Greeks and Turks, defined pragmatically as the permanent residents of the island, can take this decision.

(*) Published in the fpi Quarterly “Foreign Policy”, Vol.25, Nos.3-4

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Turkish Stand on the Gulf Crisis, Middle East and Europe – TURGUT ÖZAL

Turkish Stand on the Gulf

Crisis, Middle East and

Europe (*)

TURGUT ÖZAL

Neither the European Community nor the Western European Union may reach their netural and logical boundaries without Turkish presence.

 

It is a great pleasure and honor for me to be with you  today in Paris. I wish to express my sincere thanks to President Robert Pontillon for inviting me to address one of Europe’s three most important international parliamentary plat­forms.

In his letter of invitation, President Pontillon indi­cated that, he and his colleagues were particularly impressed by the firmness of the Turkish stand throughout the Gulf Crisis and the War. He invited me to express my views on two sub­jects; first, on how to tackle the problem of establishing a just and durable peace in the Middle East and second how I see the new configuration of Europe in a profoundly modified inter­national environment.

The Middle East has always been a region of con­flict. The Arab-Israeli problem which has come to surface in the balances among the parties has tipped to one side or the other during the period in between. This conflict has given rise to other negative developments and tensions in the region as well as in the world. Terrorism is the foremost among them.

Differences among the Arabs have added to the gravity of the situation in the region. These differences made it very difficult, if not possible to achieve the Arab unity desired by many.

On the eve of the Gulf Crisis there were several Arab groupings.

The small but rich Arab countries of the Gulf had established the Gulf Cooperation Council. On the other hand Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Yemen came together in the Arab Cooperation Council.The third group consisted of the Maghreb countries. I also have to mention other Arab countries like Sudan and Somalia which had varying relations with each Arab group. Among these countries there are also those with large populations, high population growth rates and low incomes. I don’t think I need to name them.

The Iran-Iraq War brought new dimensions to this state of affairs. This war had both positive and negative effects on inter-Arab relations. All Arabs did not act in unison during this war. For example we all know that Syria was not among the Arab states supporting Iraq. There were also some North African countries like Libya which chose to stay neutral.

This war had as consequence low oil prices. It also led to the allocation of a substantial part of the oil income to war expenditures of Iraq through the financial assistance of the Gulf countries to that country. I should also mention here that Iraq perceived this assistance as its own right.

The East-West rivalry in the region aggravated the differences among the Arab states and fuelled the arms race in the Middle East.

Inter-Arab differences together with the Arab-Israeli conflict and the East-West competition as well as the presence of extremist factions and the adversity between different sects led to a much more complicated picture of the region on the eve of the Gulf Crisis. Lebanon has been a model of such a picture since 1975. One could witness all the factors I have just mentioned in that country. The events in Lebanon could be the ominous forebearers of such a picture with much greater dimensions in the future.

 

It would be an understatement just to say that these are difficult problems to solve. In fact some of them have been aggravated by the Gulf War and even new ones have been created.However we beleive that in the aftermath of the Gulf crisis we have a historic opportunity to cover substatial grounds towards the solution of some of these problems and especially the Arab-Israeli conflict.

In this context I must mention the great prestige gained by the United States after the Gulf Crisis and the rap­prochement between the United States and Soviet Union with the end of the Cold War.On the other hand, at present, resis­tance from extremists and terrorists to efforts to solve the Mid­dle East conflict are not as strong as it used to be in the past.

One main problem area in this picture is the in­fluence that extremist religious elements have on the Israeli government. The fact that Secretary Baker finds a new settle­ment in the occupied territories at each visit he makes to Israel is a manifestation of that influence on the Israeli Government.

I believe that the presence of this influence of extremist religious elements on the Israeli Government is one of the most important barriers for Israel to live peacefully in the region.

Our policy regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict has always been clear, consistent and balanced. We recognise the legitimate rights of the Palestinians, including the right to es­tablish their own state. We also recognise the right of all states in the region, including Israel, to live within secure and recog­nised borders.

At this highly critical juncture of peace making in the Middle-East, maintaining the present momentum is of crucial importance. If such a settlement can not be reached within a reasonable time scale, the frustrations of the people of the region and especially of the Palestinians will increase the anti-western sentiments among the people of region. It may also create further complications for the moderate and conservative Arabs and add to the already substantial inter-Arab differences.

Israel is also in a position to make the most of the prestige it has gained during the Gulf Crisis. Saddam Hussein’s attacks against Israel by scud missiles; and the restraint shown by the Israeli Government against these attacks have strengthened the standing and the negotiating posotion of Is­rael. Israel should now determine how far it can go during the negotiations and should contribute to the solution of the prob­lem within those parameters. Otherwise it may confront greater problems in the future.

The Middle-East already has an enormous stockpile of military equipment. For a lasting peace in the region, we must move swiftly to devise arrangements to curb excessive arms sales to the Middle-East. Weapons of mass destruction need to be swept away from the region. The CFE arrangements might to some extent constitute an example for the area. Of course the entirely different conditions of the region need to be taken into consideration. Success in this area also depends on success towards a settlement of the region. Success in this area also depends on suc­cess towards a settlement of the Arap-lsraeli conflict.

I personally believe that the most important factor for the achievement of peace in the region is to develop a system that would increase economic interdependence and meaningful cooperation among countries of the Middle East.

The countries of the region can collectively open up their markets to one another and increase trade exchanges and tourism. They can together build and improve the in­frastructure in the Middle East. Part of the region’s oil revenues could be pooled in an economic cooperation fund to finance such projects.

Cooperation along these lines would create an at­mosphere of deeper understanding and enhanced good will. It

would also serve the well being of all the nations in the region.lt would help narrow the income gap between the richer and less wealthy. This would contribute to a relaxation of social tensions underlying political unrest.

I believe that the most important requirement of the Middle East for the years to come is water. The need of the countries of the region is now even more greater because of the pollution in the Gulf. In this respect I should remind you of my proposal of a multi-lateral venture for the purpose of build­ing a “peace-water pipeline” to deliver water from Turkish rivers, down to the Arabian peninsula. This pipeline would benefit all countries involved, in this context may I draw your attention to an initiative I have undertaken to convene an International Water Summit in Istanbul from 3 to 9 November 1991, to dis­cuss related problems.

The winds of democracy may be reaching the Mid­dle-East soon. We really see some signs to this effect.

Turkey is a drawbridge of Europe’s fortress of con­temporary civilisation and its gateway to the Middle East. As such we consider that democratisation ought to go hand in hand with efforts aimed at increasing economic interdepen­dence in the area. This is the only way to guarantee that the region keeps pace with the exigencies of a new global order based on peace, justice and progress. The achievement of democratisation in the Middle East should be regarded not only as a desirable goal for the region itself, but also as a component of Europe’s well being and peace of mind.

We cannot expect to have a democracy in the region with western standards at the initial phase, although each country may reach different stages in time.

Turkey, with its secular democracy and free market economy can constitute an example to the countries of the region in this respect.

 

Turkey together with Iran and Pakistan is on the way to giving a new life to the trilateral “Economic Cooperation Organisation”. The three countries have agreed to accord trade preferences to each other, to establish a joint investment bank and to cooperate on infrastructure projects. A summit is being planned for autumn of this year to seal these decisions. We are hoping that these developments might have some influence to encourage similar cooperation in the region.

We believe that the situation in Iraq is more serious than may be appreciated from the outside. Iraq has suffered a great and a humiliating defeat. The war has caused great damage on the country. The wound is yet fresh and warm and the pain is not so obvious. But as time passes the situation in Iraq might become worse. I believe there has also been great loss of life in Iraq during the war. As the prisoners of war return to their families and homes, the gravity of the situation will weigh on the people of Iraq. The civil war in that country has also created additional damage and loss of life. It has in­creased tensions between the regime and the people of Southern and Northern Iraq. It would not be correct to think that peace has finally come for the people of Iraq. A sparkle might lead to other tragedies in that country.

I believe that a quick political solution is required to bring an end to the sufferings in Iraq. Embargo by itself is not enough to provide this solution. It is up to the international community to come to grips with this problem. Otherwise the present problems might achieve new dimensions.

Now I want to outline my views on the develop­ments in Europe.I believe the most important development in Europe have been the ending of the Cold War and the enormous chan­ges in the Soviet Union, the collapse of communism in Europe, the unification of Germany and coming into power of democratic governments in the countries of East Europe.

 

On the other hand, the decision by the European Community to achieve a single market by end of 1992 is a very significant development for Europe. The attraction of the European Community for the non-member countries increase every passing day as the community draws closer to this ob­jective. There may be differences in the pace towards an inter­nal market in various sectors, but it is a fact that this objective will be achieved in the end and will be a significant building block in the new European architecture.

I would now like to go a little further into some of the developments I have just mentioned.

The lifting of the heavy hand of the Soviet Union over the countries of Central and Eastern Europe led to the revival of democratic currents in those countries, and to the collapse of old economic systems. As a result it brought them face to face with colossal new problems. There was a mistaken belief in those countries that with democracy, prosperity would be within easy reach. However the most important characteristic of a free market system is that it requires hard work for individuals as well as for nations to achieve prosperity.

The lifting of the Soviet pressure also affected the ethnic problems in the Balkans. These problems which were not much visible because of Soviet pressure came to surface. This has led to tensions between the countries of the Balkans and between different ethnic groups in almost every Balkan state. This sitiation might lead to new and greater complication if not handled with due care. Turkey is in a situation to play a positive role also in this respect. It has a great deal of ex­perience in the Balkans going back to the Ottoman period. It is a country of the region enjoying excellent relations with Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Yugoslavia and Hungary. It has problems only with Greece. I am not going to take up the reasons here. I should however mention that their solution will be much easier if the European Community does not become a party to these problems.

The Soviet Union itself, in some respects resemble the Balkans. Outside the Russians which constitute the core of the Union, there are Christian and Moslem-Turkic republics and scores of minorities in those republics. It is noteworthy that those which refuse to join the Union Treaty are only the Chris­tian Republics. This situation might give rise to difficulties to achieve a further rapprochement between Europe and the Soviet Union in future.

I believe that the process towards democratisation in the Soviet Union is irreversible. Therefore, the West should help the Soviet Union in this period of transition.

However, the real effort and sacrifice must come from the people of Soviet Union themselves. Turkish ex­perience in passing to a free market economy has verified this. We had to pool almost ninety percent of our resources to achieve this objective. The European Community did not pro­vide even the insignificant sum of 600 million Ecus foreseen by the fourth financial protocol. I believe, at this stage, the Soviet Union will mostly need support without political strings at­tached, and assistance for the education and training of people required to run a free market economy.

During the last few years substantial steps have been taken for the security of Europe. NATO has played a very important role in the ending of the Cold War. It is a well estab­lished and an efficient organisation. It is important to maintain this organisation and to make the necessary changes within the organisation in parallel with the developments in Europe and the world.

The challenges facing us in Western Europe are no less serious than those which confronted us forty-five years ago. To avoid the risks of failure, common sense urges us to envisage an interlocking network of relationships based on NATO, the CSCE, the European Community and other European institutions.

 

As far as NATO’s role in the future security architec­ture of the continent is concerned, Turkey supports the evolu­tion of a stronger European dimension. Such a development ought to reinforce the Atlantic Alliance and bring about a more equal distribution of leadership and responsibilities within it. In our opinion, if the EC nations decide to form an exclusive club, the new European architecture cannot benefit from the new prospects and meet new challenges. It would leave some European allies like Turkey and Norway, who are yet to join the Community, marginalized on the flanks. Hence, a European defence identity should be conceived as the “European Security Pillar” of NATO and in the manner endorsed at the London Summit in July last year.

The Atlantic Alliance, the CSCE and the European Community are three specific secular pillars of the continent, each will make its own contribution to the new European ar­chitecture. An important aspect of European cooperation will be in the framework of the European Community. Military\Security integration and Atlantic security cooperation should remain the job of NATO. In this context cooperation with and support of the United Statets is imperative for an Atlantic balance. We should refrain from attempts to reduce the United States’ presense in Europe. Western European Union ought to develop to become the European pillar of the Transatlantic system by embracing all the fourteen European members of the alliance.

Lastly I wish to make a few points that should cor­rect lingering misperceptions in the minds of some Europeans about Turkey’s role in the new configuration of the continent.This role can be properly assessed by taking due account of historic, geopolitical and economic factors.

Eastern Thrace and particularly Anatolia are exten­sions of the European continent. As such, the course of their history has always been inseparable from that of Europe. These were Alexander’s springboard towards world dominion. Rome stretched her power to the borders of Persia and to Mesopotamia across the Bosphorus and the Taurus Moun­tains. Taurus, Iconium and Ephesus served as stepping stones for the spread of the message of Christ into Greece and Rome. Islam followed the same path in reaching the peoples of the Balkans. For five centuries, Istanbul provided the home base from which the Ottomans, as successors of Byzantium, control­led Europe as far as Budapest.

Imperial Turkey was formally admitted to the “Con­cert European” in 1856. The entire history of the Ottoman reform movement consists of an unbroken chain of attempts to reorganize the state and the society on the European pattern.

Yet Turkey’s European vocation found a modern, concrete and absolute expression with Kemal Ataturk’s revolu­tionary achievements. The record of the Turkish Republic in all walks of life -from public and civil law, politics, economics, cul­tural and social orientation to military and defence matters- bears out the nation’s European credentials. In fact, the suc­cess of Turkey’s emergence as a modern and secular state bears witness to Turkey’s historic course oriented to Europe. The Turkish bid to join the Community and the Western European Union should be seen as the culmination of a process which lasted for centuries.

Throughout the last decade, Turkey registered a great success with regard to economic restructuring. A sound economy, capable of being integrated to the world economies, has thus emerged. The transformation was brought about in a democratic environment.

Turkey had no access to huge grants and extensive subsidies. We, nevertheless, managed to create a healthier economy that could produce consecutive current account surpluses until the Gulf Crisis. I should also mention here that the free market economy we now enjoy helped us overcome the adverse affects of the crisis with a minimum loss. We ser­viced our foreign debt repayments on schedule. Today, Turkey is in a position to extend credit lines to many countries. She has been able to achieve a sustained annual growth rate of not less than 6 % over the last decade. The Turkish Lira has be­come fully convertible and foreign exchange reserves have reached an all-time high level. Exports have more than quad­rupled. There are no restrictions pertaining to the foreign exchance regime and an effective stock-market is steadily expanding. Privatization is going on at full speed.

Turkish experience towards achieving a free market economy is being followed with great attention by the countries of the region. Indeed, Turkey, with most developed free market economy and a trained, experienced bureaucracy, has a lot to share with the countries of that part of the world. It could share its experiences in the liberalisation of trade and encourage free movement of people, capital and services.

This is also true for the Black Sea region and the Balkans. I have put forth the idea of a “Black Sea Economic Cooperation Zone”. This Zone would include, besides Turkey, the Soviet Union, Romania and Bulgaria. Six Soviet republics would also participate, these are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldavia, Russia and the Ukraine. We believe, proposed joint measures to liberalize trade in the Area and to cooperate in establishing the infrastructure necessary for facilitating trade among the participants. We are not aiming at a Black Sea Common Market. We only want to create a medium through which goods, capital, people and services can move more free­ly. During my visit to the Soviet Union, I saw that president Gor­bachev and the leaders of the republics were favorable to this idea.

The dramatic developments in the Gulf must always remind us of the breadth of the problems besetting the Muslim world and the dangers of the revival of an age-old conflict between Muslims and Christians. Power hungary people exploit even the smallest differences among nations and fractions to achieve their objectives. In the past, economic frustrations forced many people to seek ways of liberation. They resorted to communism and revolutionary methods. We now know that, those methods are not the cure.

The changes in Eastern Europe and Soviet Union have resulted in the revival of religion in these regions.

People believing in God build stronger societies. History confirms this. The important thing is that religion should not border on extremism. To prevent this, societies and in­dividuals need to be more tolerant towards each other. One should not forget that religions which believe in one God are based on same principles.

If we are to avoid the dark ages when religions were at war with each other, we must be very careful. In a world which is so much smaller today we cannot ignore the economic difficulties of others. We need better programmes of cooperation and assistance to other developing countries.

Today the Muslim population in the world is more than a billion. In the Soviet Union alone the Muslim population is nearing 80 million. The birth rate is high. No one can say from now the effect of a number of political problems that will be created if these people are to come under the influence of militant ideologies.

The Moslem populations world over, not only in the Middle East but in the Soviet Union as well, are in fact at the threshold of making historic decisions in their search for a viable alternative which would fundamentally determine their future.

The fact that Turkey is a secular Moslem country sharing western values enriches the Turkish Model with an added dimension. This dimension proves to the Middle Eastern nations, as well as to the Islamic world in general, that an Islamic country can evolve into a democratic and modern society on the western pattern. On the other hand it also con­stitutes a model to be emulated by the Eastern and Southern Soviet Republics.

Turkey applied to the European Community in 1987. The Commission rendered its opinion on Turkish membership in 1989 at a time of unprecedented mutation in Europe. These were the welcome changes which marked the end of the Cold War. The EC was seen as a pole of attraction by all Eastern European countries. However, today, we see that a lot of time is still needed for many of the East European Countries to come up to the standards of integration with the Community. Turkey is very near to those standards. It is in fact at a better position than some of the member states.

Turkey has also reached an economic standard above other Islamic countries. Turkish membership will make it possible for the EC to establish better relations with the Islamic world. There are those who believe that the EC is a Christian club. Such tendencies only contribute to polarisations in the world.

Turkey’s historic experience and knowledge of the Balkans, the Black Sea Region, West Asia as well as the Middle East and the excellent relations it enjoys with almost all the countries of these regions places Turkey at a unique position. Turkish membership in the European Community and the Western European Union would no doubt enrich these two or­ganisations and would contribute to the improvement of their political, cultural and economic ties with that part of the world.

Turkey will also serve as an engine of growth in an expanded Europe with her developing economy offering new market opportunities for Western European exporters. Enriched with Turkey’s young and dynamic workforce, Western European capital and enterprise would be in a position to tap the vast economic potential of Anatolia.

As far as the Western European Union is concerned, I would first underline one of the prioties of Turkish foreign policy, namely that of participating in all spheres of the European integration process.

We agree that efforts towards strengthening European role in the field of security and defence should be pursued with energy and vigour. Yet, it is our firm conviction that one cannot and should not create two different categories of European members within the same alliance; those who are within the EC and WEU, and trrose who are only within NATO. On the other hand Turkey should not be expected to accept only the responsibilities of the defence of the continent without parpicipating fully in the making of the new Europe.

I would like to sum up my message as follows: Turkey, as a persistent and unswerving adherent of the humanitarian values of Europe, is long overdue for political, economic, cultural recognition by her natural partners. Neither the Community nor the Western European Union may reach their natural and logical boundries without Turkish presence. She constitutes a European bridge to a far wider consensus between Europe and the Middle East. As such, she is a political asset for Western Europ.

All European nations have contributed to a rich and diverse European identity. Turkey, with all the civilizations that have enriched Anatolia and its people is one of the Mediter­ranean heirs to that very identity in equal share to her future EC and WEU partners. We claim that heritage.Turkey and Western European Union have common goals and common responsibilities to discharge. Therefore, no special consultative arrangement can be regarded as a per­manent substitute to Turkey’s eventual full membership in the Union.

With these thoughts in mind, I wish you every suc­cess in your future work.

(*)     President Turgut Özal’s address to the WEU Parliamentary Assembly in Paris on May 5,1991 was published in the fpi Quarterly “Foreign Policy” Vol. 16, Nos. 1-2

 


 

Visits: 218

THE CYPRUS PROBLEM – RAUF DENKTAŞ

                    THE CYPRUS PROBLEM (*)

                                             RAUF DENKTAŞ

      The search for a settlement of the Cyprus problem through inter-communal talks has been in progress since June, 1968. The success of the intercommunal talks must necessarily depend on identity of views on the diagnosis of the Cyprus problem.

 

The search for a settlement of the Cyprus problem through inter-communal talks has been in progress since June, 1968. United Nations Secretary-General, U Thant’s view of the talks in his last report (Do­cument S/10005 of December 2, 1970) is not very encouraging; the Greek Cypriot press has virtually established its position against the talks, calling for recourse to the U.N. General Assembly; the Turkish Cypriot press is equally despondent, and suggests from time to time that the guarantor powers (Turkey, Greece and Great Britain) and the two communities should tackle the problem; the countries which pay for the U.N. peace-keeping operation in Cyprus, or contribute men to the Peace Force, are showing increased impatience at the slow progress of the intercommunal talks. Yet the quest for peace continues; the two sides have not thrown in their hands, and in all Cypriot hearts, Tur­kish and Greek alike, the hope for “a just and permanent solution” beams on and off, like a search-light in the middle of a turbulent sea.

The success of the intercommunal talks must necessarily depend on identity of views on the diagnosis of the Cyprus problem. At pre­sent it is difficult to maintain that such identity has been reached.

The Independent Republic of Cyprus was not the desired aim of the Greek Cypriot leadership’s 1955-58 EOKA struggle. Because of Turkish Cypriot resistance to the desired Greek Cypriot aim of ENOSIS (union of Cyprus with Greece), and the consequent intercommunal strife which brought Turkey and Greece to the verge of war, the set­ting up of an independent republic became, for the Greek Cypriot leadership, the only way of attaining a feasible solution without abandoning the desired aim of ENOSIS. The Turkish Cypriot leadership was thus handicapped from the very beginning. All acts and declarations by the Greek Cypriot leaders during the 1960-63 period were tested in the light of the knowledge that the Greek Cypriot leadership would destroy the feasible solution of independence which was reached for the sake of their desired solution – ENOSIS. This was the background to the 1963 events. It was difficult for a political partnership to function where one of the partners continued to aim for a political end (ENO­SIS) completely alien to the spirit of the partnership.

The events which were to erupt in December, 1963, thus had a philosophy behind them, and they were neither accidental nor inevit­able. They were carefully planned, and formed the last link in a chain of calculated events designed to remove all those aspects of the agree­ments which forbade any move in the direction of ENOSIS. A Greek Cypriot document, now known as “The Akritas Plan” has since been published in the Greek press giving full details of the Greek Cypriot motivation as regards the 1963 events  (1).

 

It can thus be seen that the independence of Cyprus which was found to be the “just and permanent solution” to her problem was to be used for the same end (ENOSIS) which it purported to have prohi­bited as a sine qua non of peaceful cooperation between the two communities. The Turkish Cypriot fear that this intention still underlies all Greek Cypriot actions and proposals in the intercommunal talks conti­nues to be the greatest stumbling block. Unfortunately neither the Greek Cypriot press nor the statements made by the Greek Cypriot lead­ers help to alleviate these fears  (2).

 

  • Greek Cypriot daily Patris, April 21, 1966. See also Conspiracy to Destroy the Republic of Cyprus — Cyprus Turkish Information Office, 1969
  • Makarios: «I shall prove that I have never deviated from the national path, i.e. Enosis» Eleftheria, January 22, 1970.

But fears have to be cast off and suspicions curbed if a peaceful solution is to be found. Much depends on the attitude of the Greek Cypriot side. Passing off the Greek National Anthem as «the National Anthem of Cyprus» each time a foreign diplomat presents his credenti­als to Archbishop Makarios, playing this anthem as the closing-down tune on Cyprus television each night, having the word «ENOSIS» boldly printed in blue and white on all camps of the Greek Cypriot Army, the removal of the Turkish language from all road signs, and refusal to solve the problems of 20,000 Turkish Cypriot displaced per­sons are but a few of the overt Greek Cypriot acts which daily exas­perate the Turkish Cypriots. It is with this background that the search for peace continues.

What does the Turkish Cypriot side hope or wish to achieve in the intercommunal talks?

The answer to this question is simple. Turkish Cypriots want to retain the community’s political and juridical status as laid down in the 1960 agreements – a status of partnership with vested and undeniable rights in the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Cyprus. “The independence and sovereignty of Cyprus was won by our exertions and because of our resistance to Greek demands to colonize the island by uniting it with Greece. But for our resistance to ENOSIS during the 1955-58 period there would have been no Independent Republic of Cyprus”, say the Turkish Cypriots. It is because of this deeply embedded belief that the Turkish Cypriot side is averse to any move to treat the Turkish Community as a minority on the island- a move which forms the axis of all Greek Cypriot offers, and is hammered in daily by the Greek Cypriot press.

From the Greek Cypriot point of view, the problem can be resolv­ed “once the majority rule principle” is accepted. To them majority rule also includes “the right of the Greek Cypriots to decide the fate of Cyprus”, in other words, to decide on the union of Cyprus with Greece.! According to them, the fault of the 1960 agreements lies in the fact that ENOSIS is ruled out., and the independence and sovereignty of Cyprus are fully guaranteed.

The Turkish Cypriots’ partnership status and the community’s  recognized rights and    interests  in  the  independence,    sovereignty and territorial  integrity of the island give juridical   backing to these guarantees. That is why the Greek Cypriot side feels inclined to continue the present situation rather than endorse the rights of the Turkish community which, they know, will continue to bar the way to ENOSIS.

The intercommunal talks began in June, 1968, in the wake – and probably as a result – of the 1967 November crisis. Two Turkish villa­ges, Boğazköy and Geçitkale, had been attacked by combined Greek and Greek Cypriot forces as part of the pattern of overall Greek tactics to eliminate all Turkish Cypriot points of resistance one by one, Turkey’s
reaction  was quick;  a Greco-Turkish war became imminent.    At this stage Greece agreed to withdraw from Cyprus its occupation   forces – numbering some 12,000 men  – together with General Grivas,    their commanding officer    who was then at loggerheads    with Archbishop Makarios. The Greek Cypriot administration, on the other hand, promised full compensation to the Turkish villagers – a promise which  has only partly been fulfilled to this day!

In other words, the armed struggle of December, 1963 – Novem­ber, 1967 yielded no results. The 1960 Agreements, which the Greek Cypriot side thought would be thrown into the wastepaper basket, were still recognized as valid agreements throughout the world. Turkish Cypriot resistance was still continuing; no military victory had been achieved, and the de facto Greek Army presence in Cyprus had now been withdrawn. It was obvious, therefore, that to solve the Cyprus problem by armed force was an impossibility as long as the Turkish Cypriots resisted ENOSIS and Turkey backed them up in this resistance.

At the initial stages of the talks, it was necessary to eliminate subjects whose discussion would lead the negotiations nowhere. ENO­SIS, partition, and any solution based on geographical separation were included in this category. What remained to be discussed was inde­pendence and the means of cooperation between the two ethnic com­munities in running a joint enterprise. As there was neither victor nor vanquished, mutual concessions appeared to be the key to success.

Now, almost three years after the beginning of the talks, both sides claim to have come to the limit of the concessions which they can reasonably make. These talks were said to be of an unofficial and exploratory nature, and secrecy was considered essential for their suc­cess. Consequently, in discussing the difficulties encountered in the intercommunal talks one has to be careful not to cross the boundaries of discretion, or to divulge anything which has not so far been disclosed by both sides.

From 1960 onwards, the Greek Cypriot propaganda machine told the world that “amendment of the Constitution was essential for the better functioning of the state machinery”. Their ostensible reason for the 1963 troubles was projected as “crisis due to constitutional abnormalities”. In fact, of course, their main objective was to remove all those parts of the Constitution prohibiting any move towards ENOSIS by giving specific rights to the Turkish Cypriots. At the intercommunal talks, the Turkish Cypriot side showed willingness to accommo­date the Greek Cypriot demands for certain amendments, provided a) that they did not erode the Communal Status of the Turkish Cypriots, and b) that ENOSIS continued to be effectively barred. Another impor­tant question for the Turkish Cypriots was that of security of life and property. The Turks wanted a guaranteed regime which would prevent the tragedy of December 1963 from being restaged by the numerically greater Greek Cypriot side. The checks and balances introduced into the 1960 Constitution in the form of vetoes, etc. proved inade­quate, and the December 1963 events were planned and staged in spite of them. Now the Turkish Cypriot side, in considering a future arrange­ment, wanted “more real” guarantees in the from of full autonomy in local affairs.

It has been agreed that:

a)The two communities shall share the responsibility of running the government in proportion to the population ratio (80 % Greek Cypriot and 20 % Turkish Cypriot);

  1. Local autonomy shall be given to the two communites.

General agreement has been reached on the functions of autono­mous local bodies, although a few questions remain in abeyance on these. The difficulty seems to be in the interpretation given to the term “local autonomy” by the two sides. To the Turkish Cypriots it implies what it says: Autonomy in its proper sense. The Greek Cypriot treatment of the subject falls far short of this understanding. Hence the difficulty in resolving the conflict.

Other difficulties stem from the Greek Cypriot side’s refusal to reendorse the “functional federation” image of the 1960 agreements, under which the Government was shared between the two communites in agreed proportions, while each community had its separate Communal Administration for “communal matters”. It is this functional federation arrangement that has enabled the Turkish Cypriots to de­fend the independence of Cyprus from December 1960 to this day. The only concession that the Greek Cypriot side is willing to make is to “allow” the Turkish Cypriot side to retain its Communal Administrative set up – the Turkish Communal Chamber – without re-establishing its Greek Cypriot counterpart. Turkish Cypriot proposals for some solu­tion to this question of retaining the “functional federation” image have been turned down, thus increasing Turkish fears that what the Greek Cypriots are hoping for is the creation of a Greek Cypriot state – which the Turkish Cypriots will be treated at best as a “privileged minority”. The Turkish Cypriots feel that acceptance of such a status would gradually move the avalanche of ENOSIS, under which they would sooner or later be crushed. For the Turkish Cypriot side, there­fore, the preservation of the 1960 image of functional federalism is a sine qua non of any future agreement. “If the Greek Cypriot aim is not to use any future agreement as a ‘springboard for ENOSIS’, they should have no difficulty in accepting our proposals on this issue”, argue the Turkish Cypriot leaders. And this, really, is the crux of the whole mat­ter. The Greek Cypriot approach to the problem is alien to the establish­ment of an independent Cypriot State. In the absence of a Cypriot nation, any attempt to base the State on one of the two communities while treating the other as a minority would, in fact, be an attempt to create a new transitional Greek State in the Mediterranean as a prelude to union with Greece, it is this Greek Cypriot tendency “to make Cyprus Greece” which caused the 1963 troubles, and continues to hamper the progress of the intercommunal talks. If Cyprus is to con­tinue as an independent country, its government and administrative set-up have to be based on the recognized and agreed rights of the two ethnic communities.

The persistent attempt in Cyprus to gloss over this reality and to confuse the issue by importing into it questions of minority-majority rights do not infuse the Turkish side with confidence. Akritas’ Plan is still on record, and actions taken in accordance with its terms are not yet past history. The Turkish Cypriot side’s attempt to underline the community’s rights and status and to provide for adequate mea­sures for protection of life and property must be viewed in the light of an existing Greek Cypriot plan to Hellenize Cyprus by hook or by crook, and to bring about ENOSIS by using any agreement which falls short of it as simply a transitional one, called “the feasible solution” which is to be used toward the desired objective of ENOSIS.

In short, the difficulties which lie ahead cannot be minimized; questions of principle on cardinal issues are still far apart, and the chances of bridging them in the near future seem rather dim. But the fact that a “search for peace” still continues, and that guns have been silent in the Island while the intercommunal talks have been in prog­ress, nourish the hope that a solution to this thorny problem will be found through peaceful means – as, indeed, it must.

 

                 (*) Published in the fpi Quarterly “Foreign Policy”, Vol 1, No. 1

Visits: 159

REMINISCENSES ON CYPRUS – NİHAT ERiM

REMINISCENSES ON CYPRUS (*)

NİHAT ERiM

A prominent Turkish Statesman, Prof. Nihat Erim, who later becamethe Prime Minister of Turkey, has been involved with various phases of the founding of the Cyprus Republic and subsequent crises. Some of his personal recollections as given to the editor of “Foreign Policy” quarterly  in a special interview will no doubt become a significant contribution to the writing of Cyprus history.

 

My first involvement with Cyprus dates back to 1956. The then Prime Minister Mr. Adnan Menderes asked me, as a professor of law, to study and elaborate an internationally acceptable legal basis for our position on Cyprus, which had  then become a national issue. I went to the Foreign Ministry and studied the file. Up to then our official claim was based on the Treaty of Lausanne : We argued that we had trensferred Cyprus to Great Britain by the Treaty of Lausanne. If Britain wanted to leave the island it should be returned to its original owner, i.e. to Turkey. I considered this legally inadequate even though it could be sustained politically on the ground that the Lausanne Treaty had established a Turkish-Greek equilibrium in the Mediterranean where Cyprus played a pivotal role. From the legal point of view, however, if the sovereignty of territory was uncon­ditionally transferred to another country, the original owner could have no control over the new sovereign regarding the fate of that land.

In studying the subject, I recalled a certain provision of the United Nations Charter, in the formulation of which I had taken part at the San Francisco Conference in 1945. This clause was discussed and prepared at the committee which I had attended : Paragraph (b)| of Article 73 stated: «… to develop self-government, to take due account of the political aspiration of the peoples”. Much discussions had taken place at the committee whether to use the word “people” in the singular or in the plural. In the end a consensus was reached that in many countries which had not yet attained self-government not only one but more than one people lived, whose aspirations had to be taken into account separately. Therefore, the plural form “peoples” was preferred.

In my report to the Government I stated : «lt is quite obvious that today in Cyprus two seperate peoples live. Admittedly Greek people on the island constitute the majority, but there is also a Turkish people with separate religion, separate language, separate past, separate future, separate hopes and aspirations that cannot coincide with those of the Greek people. While self-government demands of the Greek people were to be satisfied, the aspirations of the Turks had also to be taken into account and satisfied.”

The Government adopted this thesis and I was assigned with the task of presenting it to our delegation to the United Nations. As a result, this point was included in the Turkish presentation to the United Nations General Assembly of 1957 as an addition to our arguments based on the Lausanne Treaty, and the Assembly resolution of that year referred to a solution acceptable to “all parties concerned”, which without mentioning the term specifically, included both Turkey and the Turkish Community in the island.

Even before the United Nations discussions, upon the demand of the British government a draft constitution was prepared by Lord Radcliffe in 1956. His proposals were based on the existence of two separate communities in Cyprus which were to be co-partners within a dual government with two heads. At that time I visited Cyprus, discussed the situation with the then British Governor – General Sir John Harding and with the leaders of the Turkish Community and presented our counter­proposals to the Radcliffe draft. But due to the Greek hopes that they could obtain better terms from the United Nations, progress could not then be achieved on the Radcliffe draft. Later on in 1958, Mr. Harold Mac Millan put forward another plan which was  rejected by the Greek Government and by Archbishop Makarios. However, the Radcliffe constitutional proposals inspired the subsequent London and Zurich Agreements and the constitution we prepared in 1960 for Cyprus.

I was not involved in the preparation of the London and Zurich Agreements, but I was in the preparation of the Cyprus constitution. Prime Minister Menderes asked me to head the Turkish delegation at the mixed committee to prepare the constitution. We began our work in Cyprus and we worked for a while in Lausanne because the neutral advisor of the committee, Prof. Bridel, could not leave his chair at the University of Lausanne. The constitutional preparations lasted from the beginning of 1959 to March 1960 and during one year we spent 183 days in Cyprus. The crucial point on which it was difficult to agree was the rights of the executive organ. Achbishop Makorios was unable to reconcile himself to the notion that he had to share his Presidential powers with a Turkish Vice-President. The chief Greek Cypriot negotiator was Mr. Clerides and Makarios pushed him aside and wanted to negotiate with me directly. After a certain time he led the discussions to a rupture and I left Cyprus. Eventually Athens and Ankara agreed on the necessity that the clause in the Zurich Agreement relating to the powers of the executive be included in the constitution without change. This settlement was included in toto in the constitution which was at last accepted by Makarios. The aim of the Archbishop was to dilute the Zurich Agreement by including provisions favorable to himself, and we did not allow this to happen. I believe this point is extremely important since it explains all further actions by the Archbishop. After Cyprus became an independent state, all the faits accomplis he tried and the disputes he created have been based on his initial opposition to allowing the Turkish Vice-President to become his partner in running the state and sharing his authority. In 1963 he visited Ankara and during his discussions with Prime Minister İnönü he objected to the existence of seperate municipalities, the right of the Turks to veto the budget, etc., etc… While the constitution was being negotiated he had wanted to eliminate all these provisions. The Turkish Government responded to him that these were points on which agreement had been reached in the course of the London and Zurich negotiations and had become part of the Cyprus constitution; therefore, they could neither be diluted nor reinforced and he had to live with these provisions and share the Cypriot state with the Turks.

Nevertheless, ever since the Cyprus Republic became an independent and sovereign state he has attempted to upset the dual balance in his own favor by unilateral action. I must point out that the principal aspi­ration of Archbishop Makarios and most of the Cypriot Greeks is Enosis, that is to unite the island some day with Greece. Makarios hoped in 1963 that he could achieve this through a fait accompli by benefitting from the domestic problems of Turkey. But the attitude of Turkey and the heroic resistence of the Turks on the island prevented him. He repeated his action once again in 1967 when Mr. S. Demirel was Prime Minister of Turkey. He also stood firm and Makarios failed again. After 1967 the United Nations increased its interest in Cyprus and provided for intercommunal talks which continued on and off until 1974.

However, between the preparation of the Cyprus constitution in 1959 and Prime Minister İnönü’s visit to Washington in 1964, I was not invol­ved with developments or decision making on Cyprus. On this trip Prime Minister İnönü asked me to travel with him as a parliamentary advisor and I accepted. As is known, in the beginning of 1964 President Johnson had prevented a Turkish landing in Cyprus through a rather strange, harsh and threatening letter which had caused much resentment in Tur­key. In order to erase the effects of this letter President Johnson made an effort and invited the Turkish and Greek Prime Ministers to Washington, and stated that he wanted to settle this problem in a manner that would satisfy the Turks. He said that for this purpose, he would appoint Mr. Dean Acheson, one of his much trusted aides, and asked Prime Minister İnönü to appoint a similar Turkish personality to talk with him. Prime Minister İnönü said he wanted to designate me as his representative. Prime Minister Papandreou of Greece would arrive two days after us in Washington and would also be asked to appoint a negotiator for the Greek side. The original proposal of President Johnson was that the rep­resentatives of the three countries should be closeted at Camp David and kept there until they reached an agreement, say within two or three weeks, if necessary. İnönü accepted this proposal. Mr. Acheson was intro­duced to Mr. İnönü. The meeting took place on a yacht on the Potomac River and a declaration was prepared. As written by Mr. Acheson, the declaration reaffirmed the validity of existing agreements as a starting point for a new solution mentioning «…the binding effects of treaties”. Makarios wanted to change the constitution and we did not object to changing it, provided the binding effects and results of the treaties in force were taken as a basis. We accepted this and left Washington for New York. Mr. Papandreou arrived in Washington while we were in New York. We were told that Mr. Papandreou accepted the principle of tripar­tite discussions to take place among Turkish, Greek and American rep­resentatives; however, he wanted the discussions to take place under the United Nations umbrella. The United Nations Secretary General should appoint the mediator, who would be Mr. Tuomioja of Finland, and the discussions were not be held at Camp David but at Geneva so that they would not carry an American label. President Johnson accepted the proposal of the Greek Prime Minister.

While we were in New York we received the news that General Grivas had landed on the island and we were shocked to hear this news. We were told, however, by our American colleagues that this should not be considered a bad development since General Grivas had gone there to fight Communists and we should not worry about   his activities.

Soon afterwards we arrived in Geneva to start discussions; there we were to meet again another Greek demand. The Greek Government stated that their delegate could not attend a tripartite conference. They would negotiate individually with Mr. Dean Acheson and we should also talk with him alone. Mr. Acheson should try to reach a conclusion through these separate talks. The Turkish Government was agreeable also on this point, because what was important for us was Mr. Acheson’s propo­sals, and we accepted the Greek suggestion. Acting with remarkable good will and appreciating the political and legal justifications for the Turkish case, and Turkey’s desire not to resort to the use of force and security requirements, Mr. Acheson put forward a proposal which has bean known as the First Acheson Plan. This Plan provided a line from Akantou Pass, East of Kyrenia to the east of Famagusta — this portion of the island — and East and North of this line was to be left to Turkey. Turkey would have the right to maintain in this zone a military force of  divisional strength, thus assuring its security. Furthermore as the Turkish settle­ments were spread all over the island in such places as Paphos, Lymasol, Larnaca, Kyrenia, Omorpho, Famagusta, and Nicosia as well as many other localities, the creation of approximately eight Turkish cantons was also envisaged in the plan. I took this plan with me to Ankara. A Coun­cil of Ministers meeting was held in which I also participated. Our Go­vernment accepted it and authorized me to discuss it. The discussions lasted for some time. We had accepted the principle of a geographical separation, but we had certain qualms about placing a military force of a division within such a small area, where there would be little elbow room and no space for an air base. Yet all these points could be dis­cussed  further once this   principle was accepted by the  Greek  side.

In Geneva Mr. Acheson informed us that Mr. Papandreou had also accepted this plan, but since it was going to be carried out by Arch­bishop Makarios his view and concurrence had also to be obtained. Prime Minister Papandreou invited Archbishop Makarios to Athens. As soon as I heard of this invitation I lost all my hopes for a settlement because I could easily guess, on the basis of my experience with him during the constitutional talks, what his reactions would be. Indeed after a few hours of discussions with the Greek government in Athens the Arch­bishop left the meeting and told journalists that this plan was ac­tually a partitioning of the island even though its real name was not mentioned. He categorically refused to accept it. He denigrated Mr. Acheson as “a self-invited mediator” and claimed that a solution could only be found by the United Nations. Mr. Acheson was very upset, but there was another fait accompli.

After a few months, on August 8, 1964, the forces of Archbishop Makarios again attacked Turkish settlements in the area of Erenkoy-Mansoura, and we attacked these forces with our aircraft. The Greek forces were scared and they halted their operation. The United Nations Security Council met and asked Turkey to stop its operations. Yet Ma­karios could advance no  further.

We returned once again to neutral Geneva, and Mr. Acheson one day invited me and presented a proposal which he said was not his own but that of the State Department and of President Johnson, and he began to read from a telex message. The proposal rescinded comp­letely the original Acheson plan. There was no longer to be a separate geographical area belonging to the Turks, but merely a very small mili­tary base to be leased to Turkey just north of the British base at Dikelia. There was to be no turnover of sovereignty, and the base was to be leased by the Cypriot government. I had with me our military advisor, General T. Sunalp. As soon as we heard this we said that there was no point in elaborating further on a proposal which we would be unable to discuss, because our authority was confined to the original proposal. Mr. Acheson requested us not to reject the proposal then and there. The plan was being at that moment presented to the governments in Athens and Ankara, and they could reject it. Our discussions terminat­ed on this point and the proposal was rejected the same day by Prime Minister İnönü when it was presented to him by the United States Ambas­sador to Ankara.

During these discussions and the subsequent ones I reached the impression that there were two schools of thought which clashed in the State Deportment. One was represented by Mr. Dean Acheson, who had told me during a visit to Washington that Turkey was the only strong and stable country which the United States could depend on in this part of the world. All other considerations must remain secondary. He believed that Turkey’s legitimate demands should be satisfied, and she must be strengthened. It was with these considerations in mind that he had actively worked for Turkey’s admission to NATO yesterday and that he had prepared today his original plan for the future of Cyprus. On one occasion he had jokingly confided to me that the State Department considered   him  as   an  old-fashioned   Nineteenth  Century   diplomat.

The other view, which I believe was that of Mr. Dean Rusk, conside­red that the United States policy should be to keep both Turkey and Greece on the same footing, without hurting the feelings of either. I also believe that Mr. Kissinger’s policy has been similar to and even stronger than that of Mr. Acheson.

Much later, in 1971 when I became Prime Minister, I was once again interest – this time as political decision taker – in the Cyprus problem and I received a favorable response from Mr. Papadopoulos. My thesis was the following one: We are nearing the end of the Twentieth Century. Relations between states cannot be run in accordance with the menta­lity of Archbishop Makarios, who is basically a Nineteenth Century priest wishing to run a chauvenistic state. We have an excellent opportunity. On Cyprus two communities live side by side in a de facto federation. How nice it would be if they could make it operate. Turkey and Greece have so many points of common interest and have so much reason to be friends and allies that it would be a great pity to ignore these simply to please Makarios. Twenty years later the statesmen of both countries would laugh at us and scorn our policies. Let us not create such a situation. Through our Ambassador in Athens and through the Greek Ambassador in Ankara, Mr. Papadopoulos informed me of his agreement and expressed his similar thoughts: but his response stipulated that we improve upon Turkish-Greek relations without awaiting a solution to the Cyprus question (‘). I informed him that this was not possible. So long as there remained a Cyprus issue Turkish-Greek relations could not possibly be improved. In Cyprus the Greeks had shed much Turkish blood, Greece has to clean this blood away. Neither I, nor any other Turkish Prime Minister could succeed in developing Turkish-Greek re­lations before the restoration of the legitimate Turkish rights in Cyprus, I knew that our interests demanded the improvement of Turkish-Greek relations, but I did not have power to do anything about it before some­thing was done in Cyprus. Messages kept being exchanged between myself and Mr. Papadopoulos through our Ambassadors with solemn expressions of good will. You will recall that during this period significant quarrels took place between Makarios and Papadopoulos. I do not know what was the real cause but I have a feeling that these exchanges had some effect on those quarrels.

Again at about the same time, that is in the fall of 1971, a Swiss pub­lisher by the name of Mr. Nagel asked to see me to present a message from Archbishop Makarios. He said that he was a close friend of the Archbishop and had seen him in Nicosia in September. The Archbishop had told him that he appreciated my qualities as a statesman since he knew me during previous negotiations and that he believed a solution could be found to the Cyprus problem if he and I could meet, and he was ready to come to Turkey to see me. I gave him the following reply: “This is all very interesting. I know his qualities as well, since I negotiated the Cyprus constitution with him for three months. The Archbishop I know pretends that Turks on the island are a minority and he does not accept the principle that the Cyprus state is based on Turkish-Greek partnership. He claims that he signed the constitution under duress and he wants to get  rid of it”. I, therefore, asked the bearer of the message: ”Has Makarios changed his views? Does he admit that the Cyprus state is ba­sed on Turkish-Greek partnership ? If he does, we can meet at any time and indeed we can find a solution. But, first of all, I would like to receive an answer to my questions”. Mr. Nagel said that I was quite right, and I heard nothing further from him or from the Archbishop.

 

I took up this matter further during an offical visit to Paris in the beginning of 1972. During that trip at a reception in the Turkish Embassy I met Makarios’ envoy to Paris, Ambassador Modinos, whom I knew very well. I told him about Mr. Nagel’s visit and my reply to Makarios. He said that he did not know anything about it. But I insisted that he should con­tact the Archbishop and raise the matter with him; he promised to do so and to inform the Turkish Ambassador in Paris. As far as I recall, there was no response from him and this initiative failed to bring any reaction from Archbishop Makarios.

 

(1)  Editor’s note :   For a comprehensive Greek view see :    “Turkish-Greek  Rela­tions”, loannis Tzounis.  Foreign Policy, Vol. I. No. 2.

 

       (*) Published in the fpi Quarterly Foreign Policy, Vol. 4, Nos. 2-3

Visits: 262

Aegean: Renewed Turkish – Greek Dialogue Seyfi Taşhan – 13 March 2002

Aegean: Renewed Turkish – Greek Dialogue

Seyfi Taşhan – 13 March 2002

After many years of refusal to talk with Turkey on the Aegean issues, the first encounter on these issues took place yesterday between Turkish and Greek diplomats in Ankara and will continue next month in Athens . Certainly this development is an achievement of the foreign ministers of the two countries whose policy of rapprochement brought the Greek diplomats who refused to talk nothing about the Aegean except taking the issue of the delimitation of the continental shelf in the Aegean to International Court of Justice. Until 1997 Turkey categorically rejected going to international arbitration on the continental shelf unless there were negotiations on all the contentious issues in the Aegean Sea. Basically, these issues were Greek initiatives taken over many decades upsetting the balance established between the two countries with the peace treaty of Lausanne signed in 1923.

It is true that in 1960s and 1970s these problems were discussed between the two sides under the shadow of the major Cyprus dispute that concerned not only the Turkish and Greek Communities in the island but also the two mainland. After 1980s with advent to power in Greece of the father Papandreu, all dialogue between the two countries were terminated, and people of Greece were led to believe that there was a Turkish military threat against Greece. Two points of view were advanced in the Greek public opinion. One the view argued that  Cyprus formed the crux of the dispute between the two countries and before its shadow was removed Greece could not discuss anything in the Aegean. The second was even more chauvinistic and defiant in simply refusing to discuss anything on Aegean which they considered was Greek.

The dialogue and contacts that began between the two countries several years ago and the initiation of direct talks between the two communities in Cyprus may have created the necessary atmosphere for renewed dialogue on the Aegean. Yet, it might be too soon to expect speedy solutions to all the problems on which the two countries and public opinions have hardened views and attitudes.

Let us take the continental shelf which the Greeks still consider as the only contentious issue that could be solved through resort to the International Court of Justice. Had the only problem in the Aegean been only the continental shelf delimitation it could have been possible to accept immediate joint recourse to international arbitration. However from the Turkish point of view other issues of dispute are directly or indirectly related and inter-linked with the continental shelf issue. Take for example, the question of territorial waters in the Aegean, a semi-closed sea dotted with many islands. Currently, territorial waters are limited to six miles.
This breadth of sovereign area leaves a substantial part of the Aegean as international waters (see map). Under the Law of the Seas Convention of which Turkey is not a signatory , the territorial waters of the islands may be extended up to 12 miles.
If Greece decides to use this right generally applicable in open seas it will take most of the Aegean under its sovereignty and Turkish and other flag ships will have to pass through Greek waters to cross the Aegean. In case of Turkey passage from one Turkish port to the other will also have to pass also through Greek waters. Greece currently reserves the right to extend their territorial waters to twelve miles. If she chooses to do so before or after arbitration on the continental shelf there will be no case to go bring to arbitration because there will be no international continental shelf to be divided. It is for this reason that Turkey declared the possible extension of the territorial waters in the Aegean  a “causus belli” in order to assert the vital importance of this issue and to demonstrate that he such a move could prejudice other issues of contention in the Aegean. Among other issues such as the current air space of 10 miles is an odd Greek practice recognized by no one. The fate of the rocks and uninhabited islets in the international waters is also an issue linked with the delimitation of the continental shelf and of the territorial waters. The sheer violations by Greece of the Lausanne Treaty that demilitarized the Greek islands in the proximity of the Turkish coast and of the Italian Peace Treaty that transferred the Dodacanese islands Greece but kept them disarmed are also very important security concerns for both Turkey’s coastal regions and also for the safety of the sea traffic and cannot be ignored on the basis of the Greek claim that this is a matter that concerns only the Greek sovereignty.

Since the dialogue has begun several years ago between the two governments and the civil sectors of both countries,  many  statesmen  as well as significant portions of public opinion in Greece have come to the conclusion that Turkey can no longer be considered a threat to Greece, and that the two countries have significant interest in bilateral cooperation not mention their common interests in the Balkans, the Black Sea region and in the Mediterranean.

If we recall that in 1930 the treaty of alliance and friendship between the two countries gave the right to each party in international conferences to represent the other if he could not attend that meeting, it would not be terribly difficult both for the Turks and the Greeks to adopt the liberal European integrative approach in their bilateral relation.

The international conditions are quite suitable for the success of this newly begun dialogue on the Aegean and we have practically no reason to be pessimist for the eventual outcome.

Visits: 202

TURKISH – GREEK RELATIONS REVISITED (SEYFi TAŞHAN-REŞAT ARIM-OKTAY AKSOY)

TURKISH – GREEK RELATIONS REVISITED

(SEYFi TAŞHAN-REŞAT ARIM-OKTAY AKSOY)

Seyfi Taşhan – In recent weeks there has been certain developments in Turkish –Greek relations. This development began with the election of Young Papandreou as the Prime Minister of Greece. He was known to be in favor of good relations with Turkey. He had made friendship with the late Foreign Minister Ismail Cem. In fact  what he did was coming to Istanbul after elections where he paid a visit to his tomb. These gestures of friendship on the part of Greece did not fail to create a positive reaction in Turkey. The positive reaction was that the Prime Minister of Turkey wrote a letter to Mr. Papandreou and made a number of suggestions, the contents of which have not yet been disclosed. But it seems that these suggestions were concrete and to the point and that  the initial Greek reaction was a positive one. Apparently it offered a new method of dialog between Greece and Turkey, to solve the problems joint efforts were needed and it suggested that Turkey would provide every support for a solution. This was followed by a visit to Athens by the Turkish State Minister in charge EU affairs and Chief Negotiator Mr.Egemen Bağış. He also made very friendly statements while in Athens and  everyone hoped that these relations will show a change. But when and how and what changes are to be made remain as a question.

Reşat Arım –  Turkey is trying to have good relations with the all its neighbors. Therefore, it is normal that this opportunity was not lost on Turkey, that is to say, election of a new Prime Minister Mr. Papandreou. Of course, we remember that in 1999 when  Turkey’s candidate status was accepted at the Helsinki summit of the European Union, Mr. Papandreou, who was the Foreign Minister at the time, came to Ankara and made good speeches saying that he would be willing to support  Turkey’s membership in EU. Now, this time, of course we have the Aegean problems and of course the Cyprus issue. These two problems will have to be taken up when the climate will be alright for the two parties.

Oktay Aksoy – It is true that we have declared  our intention to have  zero problem with all our neighbors, as you have mentioned. It is no surprise that we had also a positive approach to the new Greek government. The earlier Mr. Mitsotakis government was a bit hesitant  to further relations with Turkey and they were satisfied with positive developments only in the economic field. But, the issues related with the Aegean and Cyprus remained and we are now approaching the EU summit, where Turkey-Cyprus relations will be considered. Papandreou’s  coming to power  has given us an opportunity to try to improve relations as he is known in Turkey as someone who would be helping Turkey’s EU bid. But of course, when Turkey’s candidate status was approved in Helsinki in 1999 the governments in power in the EU countries were more social democrat than at present. We have Great Britain and Greece now who can collaborate. And although not a social democrat, the government in Sweden is also supporting Turkey’s accession process and as the term President may be helpful. But we will see how things will develop.

Seyfi Taşhan – Of course, the EU aspect  is an important part of the Turkish- Greek relations because if we recall the history, Greece entered into EU to the detriment  of  Turkey’s relations with EU. And it has blocked  Turkey’s relations with EU from 1981 to 1992, really, when EU decided to establish custom’s union with Turkey. However, if we look at the content of the problem, the Aegean, it is simple to say  that the Aegean is the problem, as EU did, it is simple to resolve the territorial  disputes. It is easy to say that the Cyprus problem can be resolved. For an  outsider these are simple issues but for the insiders each of these issues has many dimensions. I believe to isolate Cyprus issue from Turkish- Greek relations is not possible. Because the birth of the Cyprus issue finds itself in Greek nationalism and Turkish reaction to it. So the basic problem to my mind is to prepare the psychological terrain and the mutual confidence. But before the Cyprus question is resolved, do you think it is possible to create this psychological atmosphere for furthering these relations. We remember well that Papandreou and İsmail Cem tried to revive the peace process or  understanding or agreement between Greece and Turkey but they failed miserably because of the public opinion resistance to any sacrifice on the part of the Aegean. Actually Aegean requires mutual sacrifice for a solution. Now if we look at the specific problems in the Aegean, they are not easy to resolve. Also the Cyprus question is being negotiated for a long time and still there is no solution. Now how can we create this psychological atmosphere?

Reşat Arım – Of course, it is difficult  because the main thing is to have a dialog between Turkey and Greece. To obtain the climate of dialog, it seems that Cyprus is the main impediment. Of course, if we look back to the 1950s, Turkey and Greece had very good relations. Then the Cyprus question came to the fore when United Kingdom wanted to relinguish its sovereignty on the Island. Turkey and Greece  had demands on Cyprus and because the climate was  right for mutual compromise, the Prime Ministers of Turkey and Greece came together to find a formula whereby an independent state was created. However, that was during Cold War conditions, there was the Non-Aligned Movement, etc. Cyprus kind of went afar from the domain of Turkey and Greece, of course the Greek side had the advantage because of  the United Nation Security Council resolution, because the Turks were ousted from the Government in Cyprus. But I believe that two governments had a disadvantage in having a decision on Cyprus.

Seyfi Taşhan – I would like just to add one point. You are absolutely right that Cyprus problem is a sine qua non in relations between Turkey and Greece. However up to now it was Greece’s attitude that Cyprus is an independent state and it has no persuasive  power or persuasive role on the Greek Cypriot government for any kind of solution with  the Turkish part of Cyprus. So, will it be possible to solve the Cyprus question without Turkey, Greece and both sides of Cyprus and probably also the other guarantor power, the United Kingdom? If there is no four party dialogue  and  understanding towards a solution, the problem remains. At least these four parties can agree on the fundamentals of a solution, leaving the details between two communities. I do not know if Mr. Papandreou, in spite of his desire to resolve the problems with Turkey, is capable of assuming such a responsibility with Cyprus issue. May I ask you to comment of this?

Oktay Aksoy – What degree of influence he may have on Greek  Cypriots is not clear but one thing is definite, both the Greek Cypriot leader, the Turkish Cypriot leader and  the Greek Prime Minister are left leaning politicians. So they may find a common ground in that respect and may find some support from other EU leaders. But I am not sure if they will use this influence to find a solution. Greece’s interest in having Turkey as a member of the EU rather than drifting away from Europe may also play a role.

Seyfi Taşhan – Well, you brought an interesting subject. Would the foreign relations of a country be affected by the political leaning of  the party in power? S, if we say the Greek Cypriots are socialist, Turkish Cypriots are socialists and the Greeks are socialist, we may be hopeful. But against that, the current Turkish government which seeks most for the solution of the problem is a right wing party. That contradicts, I am sorry to say, your argument to a certain degree. The point is that negotiation stage of Cyprus at the moment seems to be not encouraging so it is also dubious if the two sides can reach an agreement on the substantive issues of sovereignty of  the two communities, although they say two states must be formed, but what sort of two states would be accepted?  What will be the form of the republic? They say that it would be federal republic but what sort of a federation it will be? So, I believe the Cyprus issue is also, even if we  assumed  that  the two leaders of Cyprus have all the desire to reach a solution, the solution is hampered by the double hat of the Greek Cypriots. While on the one hand they are community, on the other, they are the state of Cyprus. So, this is  anomaly certainly affects, it has a great bearing on the outcome of the negotiations. So, that is why I said, will Mr. Papandreou have enough influence on Greek Cypriots? Otherwise, Greek Cypriots may not see an advantage on a solution simply because they are the Republic of Cyprus and that in the eyes of the European Union and in the world, when there is a solution they will be sharing Cyprus with the Turkish Cypriots. So, I do not know what encouragement or what incentive they will have for reaching a solution. That is a realist approach. Certainly they also may have a desire to have a peaceful Cyprus in which both sides will be cooperating toward the welfare of Cyprus,  of all the island. So far I do not see  the demonstration of such a desire on the part of Greek leadership.

Reşat Arım – To get out of this impasse maybe we have to introduce the concept of conjuncture, in the international system as it evolves, we see that countries are more amenable to solving their problems and on the whole it is the soft power that is commending the actions of  the states. Between Turkey and Greece we had many good times for example in the 1930s between Atatürk and Venizelos. To come to a compromise  solution on Cyprus, the two countries can make an effort. Also, they may encourage the two sides in Cyprus to make all the effort possible. There is serious discussion of all aspects of the problem under the Good affices Mission of the UN Secretary General. Certainly, it would be a pity to let this opportunity press.

Visits: 148

A second ‘non-dialogue policy with the EU?’ Prof. Dr. Hüseyin BAĞCI – 20 November 2000, Turkish Daily News

A second ‘non-dialogue policy with the EU?’

Prof. Dr. Hüseyin BAĞCI – 20 November 2000, Turkish Daily News

Turkey is heading with great political speed for another “non-dialogue” with the European Union. In particular, Turkish public opinion is very angry about the decision of the European Parliament to accept the decision that Turkey should recognize the so-called Armenian Bill and that Cyprus has become another political criteria for EU-membership. Also, some modifications of Turkey’s borders and Kurdish television and radio broadcasting were other issues which created heavy debates among political leaders. Therefore, the good atmosphere which was achieved in Helsinki has been spoiled. Was such a situation expected before the intergovernmental conference? No doubt those who are against Turkish membership of the EU and those who are against EU-membership in Turkey made their points and they made obvious, at least for the moment, what they wanted: the continuation of the non-dialogue.

The main differences between Turkey and the EU will remain the Cyprus, Armenian and Kurdish issues. But why at the last minute make the European Parliament put those two critical issues into the Morillion Report and create such anger? Even Morillion did not accept this change and resigned. Is this not then a fait accompli towards Turkey? Also, the Cyprus question suddenly becomes another political criteria. What is the real purpose behind this? Do they think that Turkey can accept such moves? It seems neither diplomatically, nor politically correct behavior by the European Parliament. Then, the discussions last week centered again on how the EU is not reliable: these have one aim, to destroy Turkey, and get Turkey away from the EU. Even one of the most important criticisms came by the chairman of the parliamentary Foreign Relations Committee, Kamran Inan, when he said, concerning Cyprus, “They [the EU] want to get Cyprus into the EU because one part of the island belongs to their religion and culture,” indicating Southern Cyprus.

For Turkey, in the words of Ambassador Volkan Vural, Cyprus is a matter of political dialogue and Turkey will further support U.N. Secretary General Cofi Annan in his search for dialogue, but certainly neither Annan nor the EU is a referee in this issue. Cyprus is irrelevant for Turkey’s national program which will be submitted to the EU. Therefore, the Greek government put it in the “political criteria,” and in the letter to Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit by Finland’s Prime Minister before the Helsinki summit. Accordingly it did not contain anything. Now, all this happens and the Turkish government is upset. Then, like Cyprus, they did not expect the so-called Armenian genocide to be accepted by the European Parliament. It gave a signal to all other national parliaments in Europe, as indicated by the French and Italian parliaments’ decisions. It is expected that the Scandinavian parliaments will follow suit. Another important development happened on Friday when Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lind visited Turkey for four hours and told her counterpart Ismail Cem that Kurdish education must be started and that just making a few television and radio broadcasts will not be enough. As is known, Sweden will take the EU term presidency in January 2001 and no doubt Sweden will create more headaches for Turkey.

It is not so important whether Turkey will accept those “unofficial political criteria” by the EU or not. The real question remains whether Turkey will keep its enthusiasm for EU membership. Recent developments show that Turkey is losing its hope for a new dynamic and also its European vision. The modernization process in Turkey will be interrupted again if there is another “second non-dialogue policy,” and this time it will be longer. Then, no political party can support closer EU relations if the EU continues to act in such a way that the Turkish nation is degraded and demoralized. A new, in the words of Cem Duna, “Luxembourg syndrome” is emerging. This time with far more negative consequences for each side. For those who are do not want to see Turkey in the EU it is a great success; but for those who look forward to union membership it must bring great disappointment and resignation.

What will happen then? No doubt, it will not be the end of the world. Deputy Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz said that Turkey can renounce EU membership and that Turkey would not be seen to accept anything the EU requires of it. Maybe he is now the only political leader who does not have it easy. Two political leaders in the coalition, Prime Minister Ecevit and Deputy Prime Minister Bahceli, stated long ago that, as concerns the Cyprus and Ocalan issues, Turkey has done as much as it can. Now, as a result, Turkish nationalism will experience another rise and anti-EU forces will win another battle, if not the war. The EU is also making it difficult for Mesut Yilmaz, who seems determined to get into the EU. But Foreign Minister Cem is now under very strong pressure because all his diplomatic moves seem like trees without fruit. Now, the Aegean question has raised another political criterion. This means that his sincere policy towards Greece became another disappointment for Cem, but a success for Papandreou.

Far from being a highway for Turkey the EU road map seems rather like a city street full of barriers. The sincerity of the EU and EU institutions is called into question again and membership seems unreachable. It is a pity that the good atmosphere has lasted only one year. The tension between the EU and Turkey has just started and a political solution is not there. Certainly, it will be a cold winter for both sides despite the fact that in Ankara it is as sunny as ever.

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