For more than two decades, at various formats, Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership have been warning Greek Cypriots that unilateral exploitation of the potential hydrocarbon riches off the island would be a blatant breach of the terms of the 1960 agreements that created the bi-communal Cyprus Republic from a British colony.
As former secretary generals, Perez de Cuellar and Kofi Annan –whose name was signed to the 2004 UN-brokered peace plan accepted by Turkish Cypriots but killed by Greek Cypriots – the relationship between the two Cyprus communities has never been one of minority and majority but rather has always been one of two peoples sharing the same homeland. There has never been a Cypriot nation, and the 1960 system was built on the political equality of the two people of the island on a seven-to-three basis in favor of the Greeks.
The very fact that unconstitutionally, against the founding agreements and without getting the consent of Turkish Cypriots, the Greek Cypriots – which forced Turkish Cypriots out of government offices and parliament in 1963-64, unilaterally abrogating the articles related to partnership rights of Turkish Cypriots – cannot negate the rights of Turkish Cypriots.
All the arrangements Greek Cypriots have undertaken unilaterally against the rights and privileges of Turkish Cypriots are null and void and fall contrary to the 1960 agreements guaranteed by Turkey, Greece, and Britain.
Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders verbally agreed many times to a moratorium on taking any action regarding the hydrocarbon riches of the island until a resolution was found to the Cyprus issue.
Even fascist Tassos Papadopoulos respected this moratorium to a great extent.
However, socialist President Dimitris Christofias (or Hristofiasco) captured by greed, walked over the verbal moratorium and resumed hydrocarbon provocations.
He was laid to rest last week, but he left behind a very bad legacy. Could a center-right leader stop hydrocarbon activities if a socialist resumed it and found not a negligible amount of gas? That is a dilemma.
The Turkish Cypriot side made many diplomatic overtures and suggested formulae one after the other. All fell on deaf ears on the grounds that exploring gas and oil was a sovereign right of the Greek Cypriot-run Cyprus Republic and they would not compromise but would give the Turkish Cypriot share if there ever was a settlement on the island.
It’s very much like the story of the Nasreddin Hodja. Hodja owed money to someone.
He had no money to pay his debt. The lender was pressing hard to get his money. One day a frustrated Hodja tells the man, “I will pay your money in cash.” The man asks, “How? When?” Hodja shows a bush he just planted in front of his house and says, “Passing by sheep will leave their wool on the bush once it grows up.
I will collect the wool, sell it and pay your money.” The man starts laughing in anger. Hodja replies, “You saw cash payment. Start laughing in pleasure.”
Greek Cypriots kept on saying some sort of a Hodja tale to Turkish Cypriots while they continued consolidating their positions and pushing ahead with hydrocarbon activities.
During the presidency of Derviş Eroğlu, Turkish Cypriots offered Greek Cypriots a way out.
In letters to the United Nations secretary-general, he suggested the creation of a bi-communal ad-hoc committee to oversee hydrocarbon activities and furthermore, said hydrocarbon revenues must be primarily allocated to fund a Cyprus settlement.
His offer was flatly rejected by the Greek Cypriot side. Why? Hydrocarbon was their “sovereign right.” It is not. That mentality is why we have a Cyprus problem today. Cyprus is not Greek. It was never Greek.
That offer of Turkey to create an ad-hoc, bi-communal committee was recently renewed. But that apparently fall on deaf ears again, because Greeks believe they have all the rights alone. They have to wake up. Without recognizing the Turkish Cypriot rights, there will not be hydrocarbon benefits for Greek Cypriots either.
That is what Turkey is telling Greek Cypriots and the EU, which further exasperated the Cyprus problem by surrendering to Greek blackmail and in order to achieve eastern expansion, allowed Greek Cypriot unilateral entry in 2004.
Now, can I, the EU, the Americans or anyone else stop Turkey from showing its muscle and telling Greek Cypriots it has decided to take every needed move to protect Turkish and Turkish Cypriot rights? Sanctions? Statements condemning Turkey?
Let’s be serious. Look at the mirror before you blaming Turkey of doing wrong.