By YUSUF KANLI
A visit to the Greek Cypriot sector of the divided Cyprus by the European Union’s chief diplomat, Josep Borrell, demonstrated once again not only how irrelevant the EU has become in peacemaking in Cyprus, but also how shortsighted European diplomboats might be in calculating the consequences of what they do, or worse, what they decide not to do.
Pro-EU federalist Turkish Cypriots rushed to find an excuse for Borrell’s failure to pay even a limited courtesy call on the Turkish Cypriot leader and senior political figures, a probable product of his ignorance if not a show of enmity to demonstrate solidarity with the Greek Cypriot side.
Former Prime Minister Ferdi Sabit Soyer, for example, claimed that Borrell was unable to visit North Cyprus because the government did not allow even the U.N. envoy on grounds of COVID-19 measures. Soyer must have been away from daily politics and realities and probably unaware that excluding just three all crossings between the two territories on Cyprus were opened almost a week ago.
There is no need to play the “who to blame” game regarding why Borrell limited his Cyprus contacts only with the Greek Cypriots. The EU high representative for foreign affairs and security policy must have been aware that when the EU admitted Cyprus, the island was divided and there was a Cyprus problem – a product of the pertinent decades-old Greek Cypriot aspirations and bloody campaign to annex the island to Greece – continuing at least since the “Bloody Christmas,” when Greek Cypriots attempted but failed to kill all Turkish Cypriots within one night on Dec. 21, 1963.
While I was pondering what to write and answer to the ignorance of Borrell, I notices that from all over the world my readers pounded my mail box with my articles published in the Daily News over the past few years. Two were my rare serial-commentaries published in Dily News on July 17 and 18, 2018: “Who wants a deal on Cyprus?” In two articles I tried at the time to explain that while demanding a settlement and asking for a lasting deal have become a national position for Turkish Cypriots as long as the Greek Cypriot people continue maintaining the utopia of kicking Turkey out of Cyprus, “restoring” their rule all over the island and patching Turkish Cypriots to a Greek Cypriot-administered Cyprus Republic, there will never be a Cyprus settlement.
In a May 18, 2018 article, I was focusing on the “Mentality problem in Cyprus” I was concentrating again on the mental hitches that have been marring a Cyprus settlement since the 1968 start of the Cyprus talks. The summary of that article might be: “When and how can there be a Cyprus deal is the crucial question we need to ask if we genuinely want a resolution. There can be no Cyprus deal of any sort unless Greek Cypriots agree that this island is not a Greek island, but a place shared by the two ethnicities, languages and religion. There can be no resolution unless they don’t see that it is not only the U.K. – who still has two sovereign bases on the island — and Greece that have strategic interests in the country. Cyprus is of great strategic interest for Turkey too. How will there ever be a resolution if Greek Cypriots do not come out of their centuries-old delusion that they are the masters of the island and the Turks were just tourists that came to the island 500 years ago but forgot to return. The two peoples of the island lack confidence and the ability to develop a shared vision. To achieve progress, the Greek Cypriot mindset needs to change.”
To sum it up, on April 7, 2018, I wrote in the Daily News that “Federation in Cyprus is dead and buried” because “Fifty years of on-off Cyprus intercommunal negotiations must be enough to understand that one of the two parties to the problem has never had any intention to compromise and share power on the basis of political equality… If reaping the benefits of the resources of the island on the basis of the 1960 partnership terms is so difficult for the Greek Cypriot side, how can there ever be a federal partnership state? It seems the concept of federation is now finally dead and buried.”
Probably Borrell must read in detail the Cyprus file at his office before declaring to his Greek Cypriot friends, “My message is a message of strong solidarity. Cyprus’ concerns, your concerns, are the European Union’s concerns.” With that mentality, sorry to say, the EU not only failed to play the role of catalyzer for a settlement – a pledge made in 2004 accession – but further aggravated the Cyprus problem and became a part of the quagmire.