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Issue #1852      December 12, 2018

Cyprus – a pregnant stalemate

End the occupation, end the division!

The 1974 invasion and occupation by Turkey’s military of almost 40 percent of Cyprus followed the failed military coup organised by far right Cypriot nationalists supported by the (1967-1974) military junta of Greece. The idea of the super patriotic nationalist group – Eoka B – was to force a union of Cyprus with Greece by overthrowing the popular, non-aligned, President Makarios.

The goal and interests of foreign powers throughout the ages has been to control the strategically located Mediterranean island and this was once again realised by the 1974 failed coup d’état. The coup quickly became the pretext Turkey had been waiting for to invade and occupy northern Cyprus and to realise its own plans for annexing northern Cyprus.

The short-lived independent and unified Republic of Cyprus, which had been created in 1960 following centuries of Ottoman and then British colonial rule, was thus undermined and Cyprus was occupied by Turkey and divided on a manufactured pretext.

This pretext of irreconcilable inter-ethnic conflict between Greek and Turkish Cypriots was continually fuelled in the 1960s and early 1970s by the Greek Cypriot ultra-right Eoka B and their military junta supporters in Greece. It also had the tacit support of British and US imperialism which continued to want to utilise Cyprus for their own interests in the region and saw new possibilities of reversing Cyprus’s new found independence and its non-aligned status.

The Turkish occupation of Cyprus since the 1974 invasion, remains an unresolved tragedy for the Greek and Turkish Cypriot people who cannot return to their homes, who live in two artificial ethnic communities and cannot pursue their national and sovereign interests.

At the same time, it continues to enable Turkey, the US, NATO and the European Union to utilise Cyprus in pursuit of their economic and aggressive geo-political interests in the Middle East and the Mediterranean regions behind a smokescreen of the “insoluble intercommunal-ethnic differences” between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

The present status quo is that the northern third of Cyprus is occupied and ruled by Turkey in internationally unrecognised limbo, and the southern Republic of Cyprus is a member of the European Union.

The recent discovery of gas and energy reserves in the seas around Cyprus has added another complication to the Cypriot people’s struggles. With these discoveries there have emerged new inter-imperialist rivalries involving Cyprus and focussed on who will control this potential wealth. Behind these rivalries are the monopoly interests of multinationals like, DELEK, EXXON Mobil – QATAR Petroleum, ENI-TOTAL, STATOIL and CAIRN-DELEK-AVNER, etc.

Imperialism’s grand designs

Individually and together the foreign imperialist states, alliances and their monopoly masters, objectively continue to have interests in contradiction with those of the Cypriot people, both Greek and Turkish Cypriots. Their agenda and their actions operate against the realisation of a single united and sovereign state, free from foreign interference.

Their interests have nothing in common with those of the Cypriot people who want their homeland re-united. They have no desire to attack other people in the region, or to allow the exploitation of their sovereign national wealth for the benefit of multinational monopolies.

It is becoming increasingly self-evident that in today’s regional and international political and economic conditions, the Cyprus stalemate will not be easily resolved in the interests of the Cypriot people of all ethnicities and backgrounds. The co-Federal solution desired by Turkey, and the more likely, Federal bi-zonal, bi communal solution on the UN negotiating table, both harbour enormous risks formalising and locking in a divided Cyprus.

Neither of these options is likely to realise the hopes of the Cypriot people to become once again one independent country or to directly benefit from the potential of the gas and oil deposits in their territorial waters. They both hold the potential to plant the seed for a “fake” resolution in the interests of Turkey, NATO, the US and the EU by giving the appearance of an end to the occupation while allowing it to continue in a de facto form.

From this basis it will be possible for Turkey and NATO to continue to manipulate events including, the accession of Cyprus to NATO, its use as a launching pad for imperialist aggression in the region and to serve the interests of foreign monopolies’ control of the newly discovered Mediterranean gas and oil resources.

For decades foreign bases on Cyprus soil have been used to spy for the US and to launch attacks from British bases in Cyprus on countries in the region, including Syria and Libya and others who are standing in the way of the geo-political strategy of US imperialism.

Today a complicated political scenario has developed in the Middle East, which is being expressed through the military, economic and political rivalry between imperialist states and alliances and which sees Cyprus playing a key role.

Imperialist blocs and states are attempting to redraw national boundaries, (Turkey’s grab of part of Syria and of one third of Cyprus is only one example), and the installation of puppet regimes in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere that will help to resolve imperialist competition in favour of one side or the other.

The growing inter-imperialist rivalries in the region are also being played out by the efforts to encircle Russia, which is actively pursuing its own economic interests in the region. Players in this game include the US, Israel, Turkey, NATO, the EU and Russia. No solution of the Cyprus question can afford to ignore this reality and at the same time hope that it can bring harmony and progress to the Cypriot people in their interests.

Class interests reveal the motives

For the last 44 years the Cypriot people have worked within the framework of the United Nations to reach a negotiated solution acceptable to all. In recent years a “compromise” agreement based on a Federal, bi-zonal, bi-communal Cyprus, without Turkish occupation and without the interventionist rights of Turkey, Greece, and the United Kingdom over Cyprus, has been the preferred option of AKEL, the Progressive People’s Party of Cyprus, and the Cypriot people. International pressure and solidarity have been a cornerstone in the struggle to force an intransigent Turkey to the negotiating table.

Today the conservative Nicos Anastasiadis government (Greek Cypriot) is muddying the waters and even hinting at accepting a co-federal or “two state solution” for Cyprus, as previously proposed by Turkey and rejected by the UN. These deliberate tactics are aimed at moving Cyprus even further away from becoming one country without foreign interference by delaying and even defeating the UN sponsored reunification efforts.

The Anastasiadis governments’ reluctance to contribute positively to the resumption of the UN negotiations, which stalled over a year ago, has led to fears the UN will withdraw from Cyprus creating instability and insecurity as 40,000 Turkish occupied troops are presently stationed in the north.

These are dangerous developments for the people of Cyprus and the region. They further play into the hands of NATO and US imperialism by simultaneously taking the focus away from Turkey’s ongoing responsibility and by opening the way to further foreign interference and the permanent division of Cyprus.

Once again the Greek Cypriot right wing are opening the doors to imperialism’s plans for Cyprus. Any solution that allows the continuation of a divided Cypriot community and state, holds within it the danger of enabling the absorption of 37 percent of Cyprus into Turkey and opening the way to Cyprus’s accession to NATO.

These outcomes will not benefit the Cypriot people and will benefit the foreign powers and monopolies who are seeking to redraw the political, economic and national borders of the region and exploit its wealth.

A lasting solution in the interests of the Cypriot people lies on a different road. First and foremost, it is based on the complete withdrawal of Turkey from northern Cyprus with an end to its military occupation. This has been allowed to continue with NATO’s undeclared stamp of approval and because of the inaction of the big imperialist powers and alliances including the US and the EU.

Secondly, the closing of British and US bases on Cyprus is necessary to ensure Cyprus’s sovereignty and independence is guaranteed.

Thirdly, self-government by the entire Cypriot people, Turkish Cypriot, Greek Cypriot, Armenian, Latin and Maronite of one country, independent of foreign interference and any foreign system of guarantees is essential.

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