The National Interest: Why is Cyprus still divided? – Analysis

18 April 2021
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The division of Cyprus is fast approaching the half-century mark. In fact, that division has now lasted longer than that of Germany.

Close to two-thirds of Cypriots were not yet born when Turkish troops first invaded the country.

The United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) maintains the separation between Greek and Turkish Cypriots but it has failed to stop (let alone reverse) Turkey’s ethnic cleansing of the northern third of the island. While the United Nations has sporadically sponsored initiatives to end the occupation, these have gone nowhere. There have not been any substantive talks for the last three years, nor will there be : The discovery of vast gas deposits in Cypriot waters makes Turkish forces less likely to withdraw. When Turkey and Turkish Cypriots do engage, they do so insincerely to keep the process alive, even as they work to undermine any permanent solution .

When a diplomatic strategy fails consistently, it is time to reconsider its logic. Turkey already has walked away from longstanding UN and European Union frameworks for a solution when, in recent weeks, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dismissed federalism and insisted on a two-state solution in which the international community would formally accede to the permanent division of Cyprus. Rather than empower Erdogan and Turkey’s puppet government in Northern Cyprus by treating it as an equal with the internationally recognized Cypriot government, perhaps it is time for the international community to embrace an Iraq model.

There is little difference between Kuwait in 1990 and Cyprus today. Saddam Hussein may have resurrected revanchist claims against his southern neighbor just as Erdogan now does, but Iraq invaded Kuwait primarily to loot its natural resources. The same now holds true for Turkey in Cyprus; Turkey’s original casus belli, protecting the Turkish Cypriot community against the Greek military junta disappeared within a week when Greece’s military regime collapsed and Greeks embraced democracy. Today, Freedom House ranks Greece completely free with a rating superior even to that of the United States. It ranks Turkey as not free, on par with Algeria and below the self-declared Republic of Artsakh in Nagorno-Karbakh in terms of rights and freedoms.

When Turkey invaded Cyprus, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a number of resolutions that were symbolic but toothless. They called for a ceasefire and deplored continued fighting and non-compliance. Since 1975, there have been more than four dozen additional resolutions, none of which have deterred Turkey from further consolidating its control of northern Cyprus. In effect, northern Cyprus reflects the United Nations at its most impotent.

Source: National Interest

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