In remarks which pre-empted the announcement of the Geneva talks aiming to create a lasting peace settlement in Turkish occupied Cyprus, I wrote about the injustice of Turkish occupation of Cyprus, an EU state which Brussels has thrown to the dogs when it comes to preserving her ‘territorial integrity’, let alone her economic well-being.
Today however, in one of his classic outbursts, Turkish President Erdogan said
“We have told Cyprus and Greece clearly that they should not expect a solution without Turkey as guarantor. We are going to be there forever”.
As with much of the inanity which springs from Erdogan’s mouth, this could be directed as much towards domestic critics to whom he wants to posture as a strong man, as towards Cypriots and the wider world.
Nevertheless, the statement is not only irresponsible, it demonstrates how difficult it is working with a flippant man with dictatorial ambitions when it comes to finding a meaningful solution to any crisis.
For Erdogan, the danger of spreading himself too thin is becoming ever more pressing.
At home he is facing troubles from a lethal combination of Gulenists, ISIS/Al-Qaeda/moderate beheader style Islamists, disgruntled Kemalists, a resurgent Kurdish movement and disillusioned Europeanists.
This of course is before one gets to his pro-jihadist quagmire in Syria and Iraq.
His threats against Greek islands and Cyprus may seem fanciful for a man who cannot even digest the food already on his plate, but Ergodan is infamous for biting off more than he can chew.
Although it would not be in the Cypriot interest to come to the negotiation table angrily after the first meaningful peace talks in years, Cyprus cannot just accept bullying from Ankara.
The fact remains that according to international law the Turkish occupation of Cyprus is illegal and all the Sultan’s bullying and all the Sultan’s threats cannot re-write international law nor diminish the pangs of this injustice towards Cyprus.
Greece too must remain firm in supporting Cyprus. They both have a common antagonist in Turkey and both Greece and Cyprus have been equally abandoned and abused by Brussels, which has proved to be a friend to neither country.
With Erdogan increasingly caught between the rock of internal opposition and the hard place of having to cooperate with Russia or else lose the only international ‘partner’ still willing to show any respect for him, the Turkish President’s angry words come from a position of weakness not strength.
The Cypriots must realise this and not be afraid to stand up to an injustice which has raged since 1974.