It would be inconceivable to imagine that in 2017 a European state, an EU member state no less, could possibly be illegally occupied by a foreign power.
Far from being inconceivable, it is reality for Cyprus, whose north-eastern territory remains occupied by illegal Turkish forces.
With President Erdogan continuing to bite off more than he can chew, Russia ought to use northern Cyprus as a bargaining tool in any offers of assistance that Russia may make to Erdogan to preserve his rule.
Although Erdogan hasn’t always been Russia’s friend, he owes his life to Russia for tipping him off about last summer’s coup whose perpetrators may well have killed him.
In Syria, after seeing his ambitions to overthrow the legitimate government in Damascus totally fail, he is also at the mercy of Russia, Iran and to a degree also of President Assad.
Because of this, Erdogan’s position is weak and this is before one offers a litany of his domestic problems.
Cyprus has few powerful friends. The EU has been antagonistic, Cyprus is located in one of the more volatile parts of the Mediterranean, and if not for Russian investments, the country might have faced even bigger economic challenges.
Because Russia is one of the few major powers with sympathies for Cyprus, Russia ought to do more for the island. Furthermore, if Russian-Cypriot relations became stronger, there is a possibility that Russia could use Cyprus as a permanent military base, so long as they are welcome there, which they likely would be for both economic and practical security reasons.
This would undoubtedly increase Russian prestige in the eyes of those around the world who have traditionally looked to Moscow for help against Western threats.
Russia owes it to the people of Cyprus to end the Turkish occupation once and for all. Indeed, the Turkish soldiers currently stationed in occupied Cyprus may prove to be more useful in the streets of Turkey fighting the surging terrorist threat than on suppressing the legitimate rule of Nicosia over the entire territory of the Republic.
Because of Turkey’s NATO membership, Cyprus was thrown to the dogs in 1974 by a US which didn’t care to defend the small state, as well as by Britain, which remained spiteful towards Archbishop Makarios – Cyprus’s President – for leading Cyprus’s independence struggle against Britain in the 1950s and winning.
An occupation illegal since its inception has been ignored for too long.
If Turkey becomes increasingly dependent on Moscow’s good will, Russia should do the right thing, and tell Turkey to withdraw from Cyprus.