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    Irrationality around defensive doctrine

    It is not enough that the unified defence doctrine offers absolutely nothing to the real problem of the defence of Cyprus, makes the solution of the Cyprus problem more difficult and favours Turkey.

    By George Koumoulli

    Nikos Christodoulides repeated several times before his magnificent electoral victory that he would revive the “Unified Defence Doctrine”. He explained that it is not just a slogan, but a vision that will be realized. In an interview with a radio station, he said “… not to say nice words… flying (Greek planes) over Cyprus once every six months and feeling good and good. I am talking operationally, I have also discussed it with the Prime Minister of Greece.”

    According to defence doctrine, if one of the two countries, Greece or Cyprus, is attacked by a third country, then it is perceived as an attack on both countries, which will coordinate their response to repel the enemy. The danger, of course, in this case for Greece and Cyprus comes from Turkey. It follows, therefore, that Greece will consider any Turkish attempt to advance into free Cyprus as a cause of war (casus – belli). Similarly, if Turkey attacks Greece, e.g. in Evros, the logic of the doctrine dictates that Cyprus will … declare war on Turkey.


    Do I need to remind you of the danger of war between Greece and Turkey? The Turkish war rhetoric against Greece may now have ceased with the earthquakes, but it is certain that it will rekindle over time. And if unbeknownst to him, such a war breaks out, Cyprus will be Turkey’s primary target if this doctrine is finally implemented. Did its devotees ever think about this aspect of defence doctrine? Of course not!


    The creation of the Unified Defence Area doctrine was decided in 1993 by the governments of Glafkos Clerides and Andreas Papandreou, and supposedly operated from 1994 until the Imia crisis in 1997, which collapsed humiliatingly, proving that the doctrine was just an illusory dream. The Imia crisis peaked in the early hours of January 31, 1996, bringing Greece and Turkey to the brink of armed confrontation. Our ministers, faced with the spectre of the Greek-Turkish war that would drag Cyprus along, gathered in those morning hours at the Presidential Palace where an atmosphere was created… Last Supper. Of their anxiety about what would become of Cyprus if war broke out, they did not sleep at all that night. In vain Clerides tried to communicate with Gerasimos Arsenis, the then Minister of National Defence of Greece, who was, by the way, the most ardent supporter of the doctrine. Arsenis’ phone was ringing incessantly, but he wouldn’t answer it! Out of fear? Out of shame? Out of embarrassment? Out of guilt? Lord behold! It was, however, obvious that the Greek minister abdicated all responsibility for the decisions of the Cypriot government. Such a defensive doctrine happen to you!

    But why is the Unified Defence Doctrine nothing more than a romantic declaration? The answer was given by Konstantinos Karamanlis half a century ago: “Cyprus”, he said, “lies far away”.

    Unfortunately, some people do not realise that the reason why Turkey did not pay the whole of Cyprus in 1974, and why it has not tried to pay it since then, is political and not military. The harsh reality is that the EF alone cannot prevent any advance of Turkish troops towards southern Cyprus. My intention is not to instil pessimism or defeatism, but rationality and realism. Only if we arm ourselves with rationality – and not with sentimentality, populism, ostriches, patriotic crowns, chauvinism, with ancestral worship – will we be able to weigh wisely the pros and cons of strengthening the National Guard and take decisions in the national interest.

    Returning to the main issue, it is not enough that the unified defence doctrine offers absolutely nothing to the real problem of the defence of Cyprus, makes the solution of the Cyprus problem more difficult and favours Turkey, which is planning the de jure partition of Cyprus. For how is it possible to convince the international community that our problem is indeed international, it is a problem of the occupation of an independent and sovereign state – something that we have been trumpeting since the long-winded disgrace of 1974 – if Cyprus is treated as a “single space” with Greece? It is reminiscent of nationally harmful and dangerous notions of the existence of a “national centre”, which we have paid dearly for. In short, with this attitude we are giving the impression that the Cyprus problem is just a Greek-Turkish dispute, and this is being exploited by Turkey to promote the two-state solution. At the same time, the unified defence doctrine will make rapprochement even more difficult, because it is certain that the moderate Turkish Cypriots will interpret such an approach as our desire to give a military character to the solution of the Cyprus problem.

    The application of the unified defence doctrine implies modernization in military equipment. That is to say, an increase in expenditure by hundreds of millions of euros, which is urgently needed by education, public health and other sectors. The tragedy is that the needy and the ignorant will pay with their bloody shortfall for others to “save” blood and “save” dollars/euros/yen/gold, which they will eventually double lock into safe vaults in the Seychelles, Panama, Virgin Islands and elsewhere.

    In summary, for military, political and economic reasons, it is imperative that we do not proceed with the implementation of the single doctrine.



    *Opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of CypriumNews.

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