Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Ottoman Empire Still Lives in Cyprus

"Eide [Espen Barth Eid, UN envoy] should understand that statements or threats will produce results contrary to the goal of reunifying Cyprus ... the less is said, especially on his part, the better."
Greek Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades

"The peacekeeping operation in Cyprus, from 1964 to today, is one of Canada's longest and best-known overseas military commitments. A large Canadian contingent served on the island from 1964 to 1993, and a small Canadian Armed Forces presence remains there today as United Nations (UN) peace efforts continue."
"In total, more than 25,000 Canadian Armed Forces members have served in Cyprus over the decades. Many of them served in Cyprus more than once, participating in several rotations."
Veterans Affairs Canada 

Turkey languishes in misery at the constant memory of what it lost in prestige and territory when the Ottoman Empire fell. It cannot restore what it lost in its entirety for obvious reasons, but there is an island geography that Turkey feels should, at the very least, be returned to its guiding influence and tender care. On Cyprus Turks and Greeks faced off on one another with murderous intent when Turkey decided to invade. To this day, Turkey maintains 35,000 of its troops on the island. Essentially, Turkey 'occupies' the northern third of Cyprus and has, since 1974.

This is the Turkey whom its President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, ascribes nobility to, as a force for peace and stability throughout its region. This is the man who sneers at the indefensibility of the Israeli occupation of  'Palestine'. The man who regards the terrorist group Hamas, as the very epogee of responsible government. This same man decries the installation of the wall separating Israel from the Palestinians who without the presence of the wall, committed countless murderous assaults on Jewish civilians in Israel. Erdogan bemoaned the fascist Jews committing a holocaust on Arabs.

Blocked and barbed. Time stopped at the old Nicosia airport in the summer of 1974, at the height of the conflict between Turkish and Greek Cypriots.
Blocked and barbed. Time stopped at the old Nicosia airport in the summer of 1974, at the height of the conflict between Turkish and Greek Cypriots. (Turgut Yeter/CBC)
There were 'disappearances' and mass graves, and thousands of deaths on Cyprus because of the Turkish invasion. Now Turks and Greeks live separated lives for fear of violence restoring the period of aggression and counter-aggression on the island, a place divided against itself for the past 43 years. There were hopes the island could be reunified. Mustafa Akinci, the Turkish Cypriot leader, and Nicos Anastasiades, his Greek counterpart, appeared to get on well together.

The future of Cyprus, at the time of the UN and the EU dismantling obstacles toward reunification, was envisioned as a democratic federated republic. Its Christian and Muslim communities viewing one another as equals, finally. But then, at the turn of the year in Istanbul, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: "Turkey will be in Cyprus forever", when he was asked of the disposition of the illegal presence of the 35,000 Turkish troops on Cyprus.

That bald statement began a descent in Cyrprus' fortunes once again when following the declaration of a state of emergency post-coup attempt, Erdogan was led to dispatch naval frigates to conduct 'military exercises' in Cypriot waters. In the process harassing Cypriot ships busy with seismic research off the Cypriot coast, they being within the Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was informed by the Cypriot government that Erdogan's behaviour was sabotaging reunification talks.

Even before that, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias complained that the UN envoy Espen Barth Eide was demonstrating biased behaviour favouring the Turks. So now Cypriot opposition politicians demand he be removed from his post. A thousand UN troops remain on Cyprus, patrolling the 1974 green line demarcating the territory controlled by the Republic of Cyprus, the internationally-recognized portion of the island, and the northern third, illegally invaded and occupied by Turkish troops.

Four-fifths of the population of Cyprus is comprised of Greek Cypriots. One-fifth of the population represents Turkish Cypriots. Before the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, Greeks and Turks were neighbours and behaved civilly toward one another. Erdogan is busy stirring the black pot of poisonous malice as only he knows how to do. Where are UN peacekeeping troops deployed all over the world? Where Islamist threats are rife.

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