Turkey's Destabilizing Role

With the current problems between Armenia and Azerbaijan and the continuous meddling of Turkey stirring trouble where it can-one cannot help but remember Cyprus and the way that beautiful Island was divided (1974) due to Turkish greed and a long time wish to reestablish the Ottoman Empire with a new face.

Cyprus pre-1974 was an island with a rising economy and status amongst world countries. Under the wise leadership of President Makarious it was navigating its way upwards.

Sadly the coup by the Greek Junta on President Makarious presented Turkey with an excuse to invade the Island-one that it had been searching for, for some time.

Syriatimes had the opportunity to interview Marinos Sizopoulos President of EDEK (a socialist Cyprus political Party).

 

 

1- Can you give us a brief overview of the Cypriot problem-maybe going back to the British occupation of the island of Cyprus

 

After the occupation of Cyprus by the British, the Greek Cypriots of the island, in their very first official welcoming speech to the British in July 1878, asked for enosis (union) with Greece. The enosis was the main and constant demand of the Cypriots, expressed in every official memorandum to the British, in articles in the newspapers and speeches in the Legislative Council. 

The main turning points in the history of the movement for union with Greece was the 1931 revolt known as «Oktovriana», the referendum of 1950 and the EOKA struggle of 1955-1959. Specifically, the demand of Cypriots for Enosis urged them to an impulsive and not organized public revolt in 1931. The aftermath of the 1931 revolt was that the Governor’s House, symbolizing the colonial rule, was set on fire and an autocratic rule was imposed immediately afterwards.

In 1950 the results of the referendum for union (“enotiko dimopsifisma” as it is called) was that 96% of the Cypriots demanded the union of the island with Greece. Five years later, the EOKA struggle began which demanded the unification of the island with Greece. The struggle was ended with the Zurich and London Agreements in 1959. Following the Agreements, Cyprus was recognized as an independent state, the union could no longer be promoted and Turkey, Great Britain and Greece were imposed as the guaranteeing powers of the Republic of Cyprus. 

Few years later, in 1963, the military coup of Turkey against the Republic of Cyprus emerged. The coup was the first attempt of Turkey to put in action its plan for reoccupying Cyprus. This plan was designed in 1956 and it aimed to overthrow the legitimate government of the island by military force and integrate Cyprus to the Turkish regime.    Almost ten years later, in 1974, the military coup of the Greek military Junta allowed Turkey to invade and illegally capture 37% of the island. 

Since then, EDEK, the Socialist Party of Cyprus, has been struggling to set Cyprus free from the Turkish army. We demand all refugees be allowed to return to their home land, all settlers that illegally have been transferred by Turkey in the occupied areas, and all Turkish troops leave the island immediately. 

2- Archbishop Makarious the third was a well known leader of Cyprus-what was his role exactly?

Makarios was a charismatic leader. The people who met him, in Cyprus and abroad, admired him for his personality and knowledge. This can be confirmed by the thousands of letters that he received by his fans and followers from all over the word. Even in the reports of the foreign diplomats held in the historic archives we read how clever he was and how he fought for the justice of his people.   

Makarios succeeded to give prestige to both the office of Archbishop and that of the President of the Republic of Cyprus. He spent his life doing charity and missionary work in Cyprus and abroad. He was struggling for the establishment and strengthening of the Republic of Cyprus. By calling the name Makarios, we refer to the person whose work reflects our flag, our land, our struggles for freedom, national dignity and survival as Greek Cypriots.

His role after the Agreements in Zurich and London was focused on his initiatives for strengthening the Republic of Cyprus as an independent state. He worked hard for strengthening the role of Cyprus in the international community and especially into the Non-Aligned Movement. He systematically tried to give Cyprus an important and significant role in this Movement. As it is very well known he developed some really strong and sincere friendships with the Arab countries of the region, and specifically with Syria and Egypt. 

3- How many political parties are there in Cyprus?

There are four parliamentary parties in Cyprus which have been active for a few decades now. Randomly a few more parties, movements or combinations are popping up, but their existence is just for a short period of time. EDEK, of which I am President since 2015, was established in 1969. It is the socialist party of Cyprus, the fourth political power in the Cyprus Parliament.

4- In your opinion what was the reason for the invasion of Cyprus by Turkey and did Greece play a detrimental role in this invasion?

Turkey's main goal, set since the 1950s, was to integrate Cyprus into Turkish territory in order to gain a dominant role in controlling the Middle East.

Britain sought to maintain its military presence and influence in Cyprus, in order to continue to exploit the island's geostrategic position to the benefit of its interests in the region.

The United States, which was acting within the context of the Cold War (as it was at its peak at the time), sought to avoid the internationalization of the Cyprus problem and, above all, the involvement of the Soviets in the island’s affairs.

The junta of Athens, subservient to American politics, contributed with various illegal political and military means to carry out the coup against Makarios and to enable Turkey to invade and occupy the 37%.

For the United States and Britain, the Turkish invasion was a way of resolving a chronic problem. A “resolution” which runs counter to international law and the UN Charter. 

5- What were the policies of the USA and Europe towards Cyprus after the invasion?

The main goal of the US and the European Union is not to clash with Turkey, with which their geo-strategic interests are particularly important. Thus, in violation of international law, European principles, resolutions and provisions of the UN Charter, they either maintain an equal distance, or push Turkey towards the realization of its goals. The United States does that by strengthening Turkey with military equipment, and the European Union by enhancing its trade relations and economic agreements with Turkey.

Editor-in-Chief Reem Haddad

Basma Qaddour