[Photo credit: PA, via the BBC]
By Joshua Tartakovsky, 28 January 2017
After a fairly successful meeting with US President Donald Trump, UK Prime Minister Theresa May is now in Ankara.
Officially, May is in Turkey to discuss bilateral trade in the post-Brexit era, and security arrangements in the war against ISIS. Turkey has been both a trade and security partner of the UK. But according to The Economist, May will also be pushing for a compromise in Cyprus: An end to the division between northern Turkish-Cyprus and Greek-Cyprus, a multinational state with a rotating presidency, a unification of the island.
Most young Greek-Cypriots oppose such a plan, however. Turkey has occupied north Cyprus in 1974 and as a civil war ensued the island has been artificially divided.
If to judge by the case of multinational Bosnia and the deadlock between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Republika Srpska, a multi-national state run in tandem by rotating presidents is highly unpopular and ineffective in creating a strong, common national identity. In the case of Cyprus, a international police force may be stationed there. Why the need for an unpopular international force if the island has been peaceful for decades?
The Economist states that the 1960 independence settlement for Cyprus entails that Britain, Greece and Turkey have the right to intervene militarily in the island if the constitutional order of the country is in danger. The Greek-Cypriot majority has called for the removal of Turkish forces from the north of the country as well as for the removal of the security guarantees by Britain, Turkey and Greece.
President Erdogan, however, has opposed a settlement that would unify the island and turn it into a multinational state.
Dimitris Konstantakopoulos has argued in Defend Democracy Press that May wishes to convince Erdogan to agree for a solution for Cyprus that would involve an international police force. In his view, May is working to solve the Cyprus problem for the EU. Significantly, northern Cyprus, currently under Turkish control, is not part of the EU. If Cyprus is united, it will be.
But since May is keen on leaving the EU, why should she concern herself with what takes place in Cyprus? The UK has security guarantees to the island. But why would May want to strengthen the EU, a body UK citizens just decided to leave, by adding northern Cyprus to the EU at a time when EU leaders are threatening Britain with economic ruin for leaving? Konstantakopoulos does not provide an answer.
Is it possible that May wishes to hand over northern Greece to the EU and destabilize Cyprus by opting for an unpopular peace plan, in order to secure better terms for Britain’s future trade with European Union? Is Cyprus the down-payment for Brexit?
This is an interesting moment for the Hellenic civilization. If until now Greece was a debt colony, perhaps the time has now come for Cyprus to be occupied by an international police force.
(Konstantakopoulos also argues May is working to bring Turkey into the EU. He does not provide concrete evidence to substantiate this claim. However, if true, then perhaps May is working to appease Merkel by handing over both Turkey and northern Cyprus in order to secure a smooth Brexit deal).