2016 EMF Conference Part 13: The Strategic Role of Cyprus, Some Salient Lessons of History – Dr. Klearchos Kyriakides, Director ERPIC Rule of Law & Democracy Program 5-7 December 2016
EMF Conference Part 13: The Strategic Role of Cyprus, Some Salient Lessons of History
Dr. Klearchos Kyriakides – Director ERPIC Rule of Law & Democracy Program
EMF Conference 5-7 December 2016
The strategic role of Cyprus historically has been to serve the interests of two major powers: Turkey and the United Kingdom. As far as Turkey is concerned, the Island of Cyprus is an extension of the Anatolian Peninsula. Turkish perception and strategy towards Cyprus over decades have been consistent. It is reflected in the proposed solution of the Cyprus problem, which, if implemented, will guarantee physical separation and segregation of Cypriots into two ethnically and religiously defined communities – a variation of the Ottoman millet system. Such a solution will allow placing a post-settlement Cyprus under the control of Turkey. For the British on the other hand, the Island of Cyprus has formed part of the UK’s efforts to contain or confront Russia.
Christodoulos Pelaghias (C.P.): Good evening and welcome to the East Mediterranean Forum. My co-host again is Marta Murzanska, and our presenter this evening is Dr. Klearchos Kyriakides, the Director of the Law and Democracy Program at the European Rim Policy and Investment Council who will discuss the strategic role of Cyprus. As always, the views expressed are the speaker’s own. Dr. Kyriakides, good evening.
Klearchos Kyriakides (K.K.): Thank you very much for that kind introduction. Hello everybody. My purpose today is quite straightforward over the next twenty minutes or so. It’s to try to assess the strategic role of Cyprus with reference to relatively recent history. I’m going to go back to 1878 and the British acquisition of Cyprus. But I’m going to go even further back and look at the Ottoman conquest of Cyprus in 1571. Those two dates are key, because the strategic role of Cyprus historically has been in essence to serve the interests of two major powers on the world stage: Turkey and the United Kingdom. I’ll flesh out that argument over the next few minutes with reference to some images and some other sources, including declassified British and American documents.
Can we please turn to the next slide? By way of introduction, let’s just remember where the island of Cyprus is situated. It lies at the crossroads between three great continents: Africa, Asia and Europe. And as a consequence, Cyprus has been influenced by all three. And Cyprus also lies at the crossroads between three faiths: Christianity, Islam and Judaism. And in terms of political ideology, Cyprus lies at the crossroads between on the one hand liberal democracy, and on the other hand Ottomanism and its successor neo-Ottomanism, and what has recently been described as “Erdoganism” – an interesting concept which I’m not really going to explore today other than to note the existence of.
The next slide, please. The Ottoman Empire and Caliphate has overshadowed the history of Cyprus, both in the post-1571 period, when the Ottomans conquered and then occupied Cyprus, but also in more recent times. It’s really important to understand that the island of Cyprus was conquered, occupied, ruled and I would argue misruled by Ottoman Turkey from 1571 until the British arrived in 1878. This is important to understand because there was no process of democratization in Cyprus during the Ottoman imperial period. There was no process of the Enlightenment in Cyprus. There was no process of industrialization. There was no university in Cyprus. And as a consequence, the political culture here did not develop in a democratic direction. And we still see echoes of that today with the lack of transparency in Cyprus, the top-down method of governance, and the willingness of the political elites here in Nicosia, or some of the political elites in Nicosia to accommodate the interests of their former imperial rulers – the Turks.
Now, in 1914, it’s important to note, the United Kingdom declared war on Turkey. And on the same day, 5th November 1914, the United Kingdom annexed the island of Cyprus, which (inaudible) the United Kingdom and occupied with the permission of Turkey from 1878 until 1915. Turkey in turn issued a fatwa declaring jihad against their non-German and non-Austrian enemies, including the British. And there was a temporary rupture in the Anglo-Turkish relationship. So from 1914 onwards the island of Cyprus was to all intents and purposes British, both in terms of English colonial law and in terms of international law. And with the Treaty of Lausanne, in 1923 post-First World War Turkey recognized the British annexation. So from 1923 onwards until 1960 Cyprus was very much British, controlled by the British, dominated by the British, and exploited by the British. And it was in this period, particularly in the late 1940s and 1950s, that the British started to develop their military infrastructure on the island of Cyprus. This, of course, took place as a consequence of the expulsion of the British, or the withdrawal of the British from Egypt, and Palestine, and India, and other parts of the region within the immediate vicinity, or the general vicinity of Cyprus.
Now, I’m going to just focus on Turkey for a moment, then we’ll come back to the United Kingdom. It’s important to understand that insofar as Turkey is concerned, the island of Cyprus is Turkish. That is the key to understanding Turkish strategy, Turkish thinking, and Turkish adventurism in relation to Cyprus. I’ll just offer you two sources of evidence in order to reinforce that point. The first is from the official statement made by Fatin Zorlu, the representative of Turkey at the Tripartite London Conference which was held in late August until early September of 1955. On the 1st September 1955, Mr. Zorlu representing Turkey said the following: “By its geographical structure [the island of Cyprus] is a prolongation of the Anatolian Peninsula of which the soil is Anatolian soil, of which the climate is Anatolian climate… ,” and on, and on, and on he went in a similar vein. It’s often been said by Turkish politicians and military officers that Cyprus is a pistol pointing at the heart of Turkey, that Cyprus is Turkish, and that Cyprus belongs to the soul of Turkey, or words to that effect. That’s really important to understand. Now, there are various reasons why Turkey has adopted this approach. One reason is that Turkey has not wanted Greeks, ethnic Greeks, or the Greek state to be in a position to encircle Turkey by means of the various islands that are dotted around Turkey to its south. But whatever the reasons may be, the fact remained that all of these decades after Mr. Zorlu made that observation, Turkey still considers Cyprus to be Turkish. Earlier today I went on to the website of the Foreign Ministry of Turkey and I found the following sentence: “The island of Cyprus is geographically an extension of the Anatolian Peninsula.” 3rd December 2016. In other words, the Zorlu thinking of 1955 is still the Erdoğan thinking of today.
Now I’m going to focus on the 1950s for a moment or two, because that’s my area of expertise. My doctoral thesis was on the British development of the British bases in Cyprus during the 1950s. I’ve worked in the National Archives in London and the US National Archives, and various other archives, and my focus has been on the fifties. And my view is that this period is key to understanding the present, together with 1914, 1878 and 1571, which I mentioned earlier.
Now, Turkey’s strategy towards Cyprus is remarkably consistent. There have been very few changes in terms of its perception of Cyprus, and in terms of its perception of the role of Cyprus. Here is, for example, a wonderfully lucid and clear summary or distillation of Turkish strategy as articulated by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Harold Macmillan on the 26th June 1958. Next to nothing has changed since 1958. This, I should emphasize, is a Turkish strategy that predates 1958. Its origins are in 1955, it crystallized in 1956, and here we see it fleshed out in the House of Commons by the British Prime Minister on the 26th June 1958: “The Turks, I am putting their view,” said Mr. Macmillan, “regard Cyprus as an extension of the Anatolian plain, a kind of offshore island with vital significance for their defense and their security. They say,” that is to say the Turks say, “this has been their argument up to now – that the Turkish Cypriot community must not be ruled by a Greek Cypriot community and they,” that is to say the Turks, “have advocated the physical separation of the two communities by means of a territorial partition.” Within this parliamentary statement by the British prime Minister one finds the crux of Turkish strategy. Firstly, in the eyes of Turkey Cyprus is Turkish. Secondly, in the eyes of Turkey the population is subdivided into two – and not more than two – “communities”, which of course is a variation of the Ottoman millet – the religious community. Thirdly, the “two communities” must be physically separated from one another by means of uprooting, ethnic cleansing, possible transfers, and other crimes, concrete to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and other instruments of international law. And fourthly, this Turkish strategy needs to be reinforced and cemented by a territorial partition, a phrase that has now been eclipsed and replaced by “federation” – the Turkish form of federation. So those, ladies and gentlemen, are the four cornerstones, or the tenets of Turkish strategic thinking in relation to Cyprus, since 1956. And nothing has really changed, notwithstanding the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus in 1960.
The next slide, please. What we have on the next slide is a remarkably prescient and vivid insight into Turkish strategy in 1964. This of course is shortly after the constitutional collapse of the bi-communal system introduced into the Republic of Cyprus in 1960, shortly after the inter-communal troubles which resulted in the unlawful killing of many people on Cyprus, from both of the constitutionally sanctioned “communities”, to use that phrase. This is what the US ambassador said on the 2nd December 1964. This is Taylor Belcher, he had long experience in Cyprus, he’d served as the American consul during the last phase of British imperial rule in Cyprus which came to an end in 1960, subject to two sovereign base areas, of course. And this is what the American ambassador said:
“Our analysis of [Turkish proposals]… is based on the following assumptions: federation of Cyprus really means partition of Cyprus and will therefore require force to be imposed… …Federation as envisaged by Turkish Cypriot leaders and we suppose by GOT [Government for Turkey] is [a] solution which might possibly be imposed temporarily at great cost by force of arms. …”
And now we come to the real meat in the sandwich.
“Geographic separation of most of [the] two communities with boundaries cutting Famagusta [on the east coast] and Nicosia [in the center], and running west to Kokkina [on the northwest coast] is Turkish Cypriot meaning [of federation] …”
To all intents and purposes this is “federation a la Turque.” In other words, Turkey imported the word “federation” as a smokescreen to disguise what it really meant, which is partition. And the origins of this are to be found in the late 1950s. But from 1964 onwards Turkey and their colleagues in the leadership of the Turkish Cypriot community have been consistently pressing for the federalization of the Republic of Cyprus. They’ve been consistently pressing for the separation and segregation of the “two communities”, and they’ve been consistently pressing for the preservation of the “two communities”. This, I want to emphasize, is something that predates the Turkish invasion. In fact, in so far as I can judge, the primary purpose, or one of the primary purposes of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, was to implement the strategy that Macmillan sketched out in 1958, and which the American ambassador outlined in his memorandum to the State Department in 1964.
The next slide, please. And now we come to 1974. Turkey of course used the pretext that was laid on a plate for them – the coup d’état in Nicosia. Turkey invaded the Republic of Cyprus in two phases, in July and August 1974. But the upshot was the implementation of the Turkish strategy on a de facto basis. Firstly, the “two communities” were retained. Secondly, the “two communities” were separated from one another into two separate segregated zones, the north of which had been ethnically cleansed of Greeks, and the southern zone had been ethnically cleansed of Turks. A territorial, de facto territorial partition arose and Turkey continues to press for federation.
Now, it’s important to note that Turkey occupied not just 36% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus. Turkey ended up occupying 57% of the coastline. So the occupied area, including the occupied coastline of the occupied area, effectively became a Turkish base. The Turks of course built military bases and other military sites in the occupied area. But the north became a Turkish-occupied base. The north enable Turkey to assert to all intents and purposes a supremacy over much of Cyprus. And the Turks were able to control the coastline and thus much of the territorial sea of the Republic of Cyprus. All this of course was unlawful, but the United States, the United Kingdom, and the United Nations, and other great powers around the world turned a blind eye to this and they appeased Turkey. And what we’re seeing today with the growing tyranny of Mr. Erdoğan, what we’re seeing with the alleged blackmail of Europe by Mr. Erdoğan is really a natural consequence of the appeasement of Turkey going back to the seventies and before. It’s a salient lesson of history. We know it and we’ll say it again: appeasement never pays. Appeasement can bring about short-term gains, but in the long-term appeasement can backfire on the practitioners of appeasement. And what we’re seeing today all these decades later is the bitter fruit of the seeds planted in the 1970s by the appeasement of Turkey.
And here we have on the next slide the Anglo-American agreement of the 27th August 1974 to endorse the Turkish objective, and to promote the idea of a bi-regional federal Cyprus. You can read the slide on your own to see that the British diplomat Sir John Killick agreed with Dr. Kissinger, the then American secretary of state, that a bi-regional federal Cyprus was to be the proposed settlement of the de facto partition and the dispute over Cyprus. And as you can see, the British diplomat accepted that there would have to be an exchange of populations as part and parcel of any such arrangement. So there’s a lot of misguided speculation as to why the Turkish invasion took place, and who was responsible. I’m really interested in the objective of the Turkish invasion. The objective of the Turkish invasion was to produce a bi-communal bi-zonal federation. And that objective was endorsed by the United Kingdom in the driving seat, and the United States in the passenger seat, immediately after 1974. And as you can see from the slide, this was actually agreed on the 27th August 1974. I have to acknowledge here the insistence of Ms. Fanoula Argyrou who unearthed this document in the National Archives of the United Kingdom.
And now we come to the months after the Turkish invasion. And we see here quite clearly the essence of Turkish strategy in the aftermath of the invasion. Turkey wanted the occupied part of Cyprus to remain under firm Turkish control and therefore to fulfill a role in support of Turkey. And the Turks also wanted a federal settlement, so that they could utilize the treaties of 1960 and the organs of federal government through the Turkish Cypriot leadership as a means of having a say in what was going on in the post-settlement federal Cyprus as a whole. That’s why the Turks didn’t want what was called at the time “double enosis”. They didn’t want Greece to assert sovereignty over the south, with Turkey asserting sovereignty in the north. What Turkey wanted was a federation so that the Greeks could be neutralized, so that Turkey could control the north, and so that through the federation Turkey could have a say in what was going on throughout the federal republic, or the proposed federal republic of Cyprus. And here we have it. This is a document I unearthed over the summer when I went into the National Archives of the United Kingdom in London. It says it all. This is what the talks, the secret talks in Nicosia and Switzerland are all about today in 2016. The British embassy in Ankara points out to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London the following, on 25th March 1975: “The Turks have very largely already attained all they really need in the island [of Cyprus]. What they lack is a) the recovery of Turkish Cypriots still in the south and b) Greek acquiescence in a weak federal system.” So it’s a) the recovery of Turkish Cypriots still in the south, and that’s what the Turks managed to achieve in the aftermath of the invasion with the assistance of the United Kingdom, and b) Greek acquiescence in a weak federal system. That is the primary objective of the so-called United Nations peace process which I interpret as a surrender process, because its primary objective is to meet the objectives of Turkey as endorsed by the United Kingdom and the United States. And I say that really with a heavy heart, because the United Kingdom and the United States were the architects together with France and the Soviet Union of the post-1945 legal order. They were the architects of the United Nations Charter. They were the architects of the Genocide Convention, the architects of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They were the architects of so many of the treaties which have humanized international law and promoted justice, and promoted the virtues of good governance and fundamental rights, and the dignity of the individual. And yet, these very same countries that have a proud record of supporting democracy, the rule of law and human rights have been the primary supporters of a Turkish strategy, which is the antithesis of all of those values, and norms, and instruments of international law.
And we come to the present. The next slide, please. We come to the present. This is the fulfillment, the apotheosis of Turkish strategy. We have the joint declaration – so-called – of the 11th February 2014 in which the “two leaders” of the “two communities” – to use those phrases that United Nations enjoys using – in which the “two leaders” of the “two communities” envisage the transformation of the Republic of Cyprus into a bi-communal bi-zonal federation consisting of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots and two proposed states: a proposed Greek Cypriot constituent state and a proposed Turkish Cypriot constituent state, adjacent to two sovereign base areas. In other words, as per the Annan plan – the United Nations ill-fated Annan Plan of 2004. So Turkish strategy has reached the edge of a cliff. We’re on the edge of the cliff now. The negotiations are taking place, Turkey have achieved everything they want de facto, all they now need is a piece of paper with a signature on and with two referenda, the approval of two separate electorates voting separately and simultaneously in line with the requirements of Turkey, as approved by the United States, the United Kingdom, and the United Nations. And this of course begs an interesting legal question as to whether or not the United Nations is acting fairly, reasonably and lawfully. And if not, whether circumstances exist in which legal proceedings may be brought against the United Nations. That is an exceptionally tall order because of diplomatic immunity and because of the UN Charter and all the other impediments. But there is a growing school of thought in certain academic and legal circles that the time is perhaps ripe for the immunity of the United Nation to be somehow challenged. And maybe Cyprus could be the case study. In my view, this process, this attempt to legitimize the illegalities of Turkey are unconscionable, they’re unethical, they’re certainly, in my view, immoral. Whether they are unlawful or not is not for me to judge. That’s ultimately for a court judge in an appropriate case if one was to come into existence.
I’m drifting away somewhat from the strategic role of Cyprus. But if there is a settlement along the lines of the United Nations plan of 2004, and along the lines of the joint declaration, Turkey will have achieved its strategic objectives and the strategic role of Cyprus will be to be a satellite of Turkey, to be an offshoot of Turkey, to be an offshore island of Turkey, and to be closely connected to Turkey, perhaps through an energy pipeline, perhaps through pipelines connecting freshwater from Turkey to Cyprus, and so on.
I’m going to just race through the next few slides because I appreciate I’m running out of time. I’ll just make this observation with regard to Turkey. Turkey has invaded Cyprus on three occasions. The first occasion was in 1570, which resulted in the Ottoman conquest of 1571. The second invasion was on the 20th July 1974, and the third invasion was on 14th August 1974. One of the great judges in England Lord Bingham in a court case, when he was a High Court judge, referred to the two Turkish invasions of 1974 – even though most judges refer to the Turkish invasion in the singular in their judgments – and that of course is a respectable an appropriate phrase to use. I’ve been influenced by Mr. Justice Bingham, as he then was, and I’ve distinguished the second Turkish invasion of the 20th July 1974 with the other Turkish invasion on the 14th August 1974. So on that basis, if there were three Turkish invasion of Cyprus, could there be a fourth in the future, or a fifth? I raise it as a question, I raise it merely as a question. History teaches us to be wary of countries that invade and occupy other countries. History teaches us to be wary of countries that are governed by tyrants, or tyrants wearing democratic clothes. History teaches us to be wary of bullies, people who abuse their power, people who don’t honor their word, people who threaten, who engage in rather unscrupulous conduct.
A few days ago I was rather horrified to read the following in the Cyprus Mail. In the context of the Republic of Cyprus, which of course Turkey doesn’t recognize, president Erdoğan reportedly used a vivid yet derogatory and rather menacing metaphor to describe the Republic of Cyprus. He said, “A hungry chicken thinks she is in a wheat barn.” Well, we know what happens to chickens in barns. I leave it at that and let the listener or viewer of this recording draw their own conclusions. That’s rather a worrying thought.
Little bit on the British. The British have been part of the landscape of Cyprus since 1878, as I’ve already noted. The United Kingdom annexed Cyprus in 1914 and it was in the 1950s that they developed their network of bases and sites on the island of Cyprus. This of course includes the headquarters of Episkopi which was built in the aftermath of the decision to vacate Egypt in the early 1950s, and RAF Akrotiri that was built during the mid-1950s. There are also British installations and sites and other military establishments dotted around the two Sovereign Base Areas, as they’re now called, in the south, and of course in various parts of the Republic of Cyprus, including Mount Olympus.
The next slide, please. Just a quick point about Russia. It’s been a consistent theme of British strategy since 1878, with the partial exception of the First World War and the Second World War, that the United Kingdom has tried to use Cyprus as a means of checking Russia. The original acquisition of Cyprus in 1878 was a product of the Russian-Turkish wars and the Disraeli strategy of trying to prop up Turkey against an increasingly strong Russia. And we see this sort of Anglo-Turkish friendship with a view to checking Russia repeating itself throughout history. We saw it of course during the Cold War – that’s a National Archives map of the Cold War Europe that you’re seeing on the screen – and we’re seeing an echo of that with regard to Syria, for example where the British without any doubt endorsed President, then the Prime Minister Erdogan’s strategy of toppling Mr. Assad in Syria back in 2011. So this is a theme of history that the British and the Turks get together with the view to checking Russia.
The next slide makes the point as well with regard to the 1950s. This is a wonderful poster that was published in United States – let me just see – it was published in the United States in the 1950s, late 1950s, to promote the perceived virtues of what was then known as the Baghdad Pact. The reason I like this poster is that it completely omits Cyprus, even though the British had an aircraft stationed in Cyprus in support of the Baghdad Pact during the late 1950s. Now, why am I showing you this and what relevance does it have today? Well, it demonstrates that from the 1950s onwards, the British and the Americans were trying to knit Turkey to Iran, to Iraq and Pakistan as a means of checking Russia, or as it then was the Soviet Union. And this tapestry gradually came apart. Firstly, with the withdrawal of Iraq from the Baghdad Pact which necessitated it’s renaming as CENTO, and secondly, of course, with the Iranian Revolution in 1979, if I remember correctly, which resulted in the end in the demise of CENTO, as the Baghdad Pact was later renamed. But this of course is the area that today is the (inaudible) of instability and turmoil in the region. I needn’t go any further than that. But Cyprus has always had a role to perform in support of British and to some extent American strategy in support of this sort of a CENTO or Baghdad Pact tier strategy.
Next slide, please. The other point I want to really emphasize in relation to the United Kingdom and the strategic role of Cyprus is that the British military bases and the British military infrastructure on the island of Cyprus have played a major role in support of a number of expeditionary operations and other military operations throughout the past few decades. Remember, the British have used the sovereign base areas and the Republic of Cyprus in the post- 1960 era, and before 1960 the British just used the island as a whole because it was a colony of theirs. On the slide I refer to just a sample of operations which have involved the British using Cyprus in support of overseas operations. The examples include: Suez in 1956, Jordan in 1958, Kuwait – 1961, Cyprus itself from 1964 onwards in relation to the UN peacekeeping mission, Lebanon – 1983-84, Kuwait – 1990-91, Afghanistan – from 2001 shortly after 9/11 until the British wound down their presence to all intents and purposes in 2014, Iraq – 2003-2009, Lebanon when there was an upsurge of trouble there in 2006, Libya in 2011, and in relation to the campaign against the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) from 2014 onwards.
So what this teaches us is that whenever there’s trouble in the Eastern Mediterranean or the Middle East, the British tend to use Cyprus as a stepping stone to somewhere else. The big switch that happened, or the exceptions to that, are Egypt 1956, and ISIL – so-called ISIL – from 2014 onwards, where Cyprus has been used as an offensive base rather than as a stepping stone. So that’s an interesting development that we’ve seen in the last couple of years also – the use of the British bases in Cyprus for offensive purposes rather than just as a hopping off a point or a staging post.
The next slide, please. And here’s a ministry of defense photograph published on the Royal Air Force section of the ministry of defense website which illustrates RAF Akrotiri from the sky. It just shows you what an important military installation, military base this is. And I think the point I want to make here is that the infrastructure that the British have is dependent upon the cooperation of the Republic of Cyprus, both in terms of the citizens and other lawful residents of the Republic of Cyprus who go and work in the Sovereign Base Areas, and also in terms of the cooperation that’s extended to the Sovereign Base Areas by the Republic of Cyprus’ government, for example in relation to the supply of water, the supply of electricity, supply of services, goods and so on. And I just asked this question if the government of the Republic of Cyprus ever falls into hostile hands, or ever falls into the hands of a post-federal regime that is hostile to the United Kingdom, how reliable will the Republic of Cyprus be as an assistant to the United Kingdom? I pose that as a question because one of my arguments over the years has been that British policy towards Cyprus has not been serving British interests. And the British are trapped in the mindset of the past, when they should be looking at Turkey and the dangers flowing from Turkey and revisiting their strategy in relation to Cyprus.
The next slide, please. And this is another photograph published by the ministry of defense. It illustrates the role of the Royal Air Force in support of operations against the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Note the phrase “the Levant”. And that underlines another point that’s worth making that the jihadist organizations to the east of Cyprus are not just a threat to the poor people who are suffering in Syria and Iraq and elsewhere. Those organizations are a threat to the Levant as a whole, and that includes the Republic of Cyprus. So the Republic of Cyprus needs to think about what sort of structures of government it needs in order to defend itself and to promote its counterterrorism strategy, to promote its national security, to promote the health and safety of its citizens and other lawful residents. In a post-federal Cyprus – will the counterterrorism strategy function effectively? Will there be a national security strategy? Will the health and safety of the citizens and other lawful residents be in a position to be protected? I raise that as a question and I will go no further.
Next slide, please. I’ll finish on this thought. The British have been involved in regime change of one sort or another on a number of occasions in recent decades. And on some of those occasions – and here are five examples – on some of those occasions Cyprus has had a direct or indirect part, either in terms of preparing the regime change, de facto or otherwise, or dealing with the aftermath of the attempt at regime change. Now of course the United Kingdom government would say they didn’t engage in regime change in any of these cases or didn’t try to engage in regime change. But there is a school of thought that suggests that in each of these instances the objective was regime change. I mean, that’s a matter of historians and lawyers to argue over. I just make the following point. The attempted, or the successful regime change procured in Iran in 1953 – which was partly hatched in Nicosia in 1953 – backfired, because it resulted in the Iranian Revolution of 1979. The British invasion of Egypt with the assistance of the French in 1956 was in a way an attempt to bring down the Nasser regime, even though it was dressed up in a different manner. That gave rise to Mr. Morsi a few years later coming to power temporarily in Egypt. 2003, there was the invasion of Iraq and the toppling of Saddam Hussein. Well, I needn’t do anything other than refer you to the report of inquiry produced by sir John Chilcot and his team which was published in the summer of 2016. The Chilcot inquiry goes into graphic detail on the inadequate nature of the preparations and the inadequate nature of the post-invasion operations in Iraq in 2003. And what we’re seeing today with the devastation that has been wrought in Iraq is a direct consequence of that attempt at regime change, if indeed it was regime change in law. We see further evidence of botched attempts at regime change in Libya in 2011 and the downfall of the Gaddafi regime, and Syria 2011. All of those five case studies serve as a warning.
This is now where I come back to Cyprus. What is being proposed in Cyprus today with the proposed transformation of the Republic of Cyprus into a bi-communal bi-zonal federation in line with the requirements of Turkey is in a way regime change, or proposed regime change. It’s an attempt to dismantle the Republic of Cyprus and to replace the Republic of Cyprus with this oddity, this Frankenstein’s monster, as Aris Petasis has called it, and bring about the fulfillment of Turkish strategy going back to 1956. And I pose the question. If all of these attempts at regime change produced catastrophic consequences in the short or long term, what will regime change in Cyprus achieve, in either the short term or the long term?
So I’ve reached the end of this presentation and my objective has really been to try and sketch out the strategic role of Cyprus in support of the United Kingdom and Turkey. I just hopefully managed to achieve that objective in the limited time available. And I’ll just leave you with this thought, and it’s nothing other than a thought. Cyprus is situated, as we know, at the eastern edge of the West. It’s the last front, the last place where we have any semblance of liberal democracy before we reach Syria to the immediate east. It’s the bulwark – to use a Cold War term – it’s a bulwark in support of liberal democracy. It’s a bulwark in support of Europe. It’s a bulwark in support of the citizens and lawful residents of Europe. And if Cyprus is sacrificed and handed over to Turkey, by means of a settlement which is on all fours, with the four cornerstones of Turkey’s strategy going to 1956, will Cyprus remain a bulwark? Or will it be a domino, to use another Cold War term? And if it’s a domino which falls to Turkey, who will be next? Thank you.
C.P.: Thank you very much for your presentation. A couple of questions, if you may. One on what you just mentioned. As you pointed out, we’re approaching a Cyprus settlement that satisfies Turkish claims and effectively gives Cyprus’ strategic advantages over to Turkey and Britain to enjoy. Do you see a closer post-Brexit British regional cooperation with Turkey, especially in view of the renewed Russian challenge in the Eastern Mediterranean?
K.K.: Simple answer is yes. Again, we go back to the history. History suggests that there has been consistently for much of the last two hundred years a close Anglo-Turkish relationship with a view to challenging Russia. I didn’t mention the Crimean War of the 1850s, but I could have done. So history suggests that the British and the Turks will cooperate with one another. I have to declare an interest here. I was a supporter and I remain a supporter of Brexit together with 52% of those who bothered to vote in the referendum in the United Kingdom. So I am a supporter of Brexit. But one concern that I do have is that the United Kingdom will continue to build this close relationship with Turkey and at the same time undermine British interests. My view is that the interest of the United Kingdom in the long term, and the values of the United Kingdom are not served by accommodating, or appeasing Turkey in the way that the current foreign secretary Boris Johnson and many of his predecessors have done. I’ve got no insight into what’s going on behind closed doors in Westminster or Whitehall, but there seems to be an effort underway by Mr. Johnson, the new foreign secretary, to build a network of cooperation with Turkey.
Marta Murzanska: Why does the United Kingdom endorse this Turkish strategy of partition if it doesn’t serve its interest?
K.K.: Well, that’s a very good question. Well, the British have been trapped by their policy of the 1950s, which was to back Turkey and prevent Greece from establishing itself in Cyprus. And British foreign policy, to use a simple analogy, it’s rather like an oil tanker: it’s very difficult to change direction. They’ve been heading in this direction for so many decades that first of all they’ll end up with egg on their face if they suddenly wake up and say, we’ve made a mistake. And secondly, they’ve managed to persuade the United Nations Security Council to issue a succession of Security Council resolutions, which endorse Turkish strategy. So the British for those reasons are reluctant, no doubt, to change direction. They also don’t want to offend Turkey because they are engaged in a decades-long appeasement of Turkey. So the Brits are stuck with their own policy. Of course, if there is a settlement along these lines in Cyprus which entrenches the “two communities” and legalizes the criminality which resulted in the two de facto zones, then of course this will establish an exceptionally dangerous precedent, which could return to haunt other member states of the European Union, including for the time being the United Kingdom. That’s a subject for another day. But I think the point I wanted to emphasize is that what the United Kingdom is pushing for is not in the interest of the United Kingdom, and it’s not in harmony with the democratic values of the United Kingdom. In short, British policy towards Cyprus is un-British.
C.P.: The details of the Cyprus settlement are not yet out, so this discussion may be a little premature. But how will the type of settlement that you envision, or you describe, affect the strategic interests of other states in the region?
K.K.: Well, first of all, the reason we don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors is that there has been a decision taken to conduct secret negotiations behind closed doors well away from the citizens. So the citizens are just being shut out and they will eventually, if the Annan plan of 2004 is a precedent, they will eventually have dumped on their heads thousands of documents and they’ll be given a few days to approve them. That, in my view, is deeply unfair, unreasonable, and undemocratic, yet in line with what Turkey wants. And it’s also designed to prevent people like me, and other academics, and other lawyers, and others from having a look at whatever is being cooked up in secret. So of course we can’t comment on what’s going on behind closed doors because we haven’t seen any documents that have been drafted behind closed doors.
As far as the second part of your question is concerned, what are the other actors in Cyprus? I didn’t have time to explore that matter. But first of all, of course, there’s the United States. The United States is directly or indirectly involved in Cyprus. Now, I’m not an expert on American foreign policy. But the question that the new Trump administration has to ask itself is, does the Trump administration want to endorse American values? Does it want to protect British interests? If so, they shouldn’t be supporting the settlement that they’re pushing for. The same applies for the European Union. The European Union as a bloc have chosen to endorse Turkish strategy, they’ve chosen to endorse the proposed bi-communal bi-zonal federation. I ask the question: if there’s a bi-communal bi-zonal federation in Cyprus, what’s to stop Turkey calling for a bi-zonal bi-communal federation in Germany, where there is a “Turkish community” as Turkey describes it, where Turkey is already meddling in the internal affairs of Germany? What’s to stop the Turkish government calling for a bi-communal bi-zonal federation in Bulgaria or in other parts of the European Union? I’m speculating here, but my speculation is based on two phrases that I keep on seeing emerging from the lips of Turkish politicians. The first phrase is the ‘Turkish community’. That’s a phrase you can go onto the website of the Turkish foreign ministry and you’ll see repeatedly used in the context of Germany, in the context of other parts of the European Union and other parts of the world. And the second phrase that has been lifted from the terminology of Cyprus and applied elsewhere is the guarantor. Remember, under the 1960 treaties Turkey together with the United Kingdom and Greece became guarantors of the Republic of Cyprus. In January of 2015, if I remember correctly, the then Prime Minister of Turkey Mr. Davutoğlu described Turkey as the guarantor of the Turks living in Europe. I’m speculating here, but I wonder why Turkey has decided to proclaim itself the guarantor of the “Turkish community” of Germany, or the “Turkish community” of other parts of the European Union? What is in the mind of Turkey? What could happen in Germany, or in France, or in the Netherlands, or Belgium, or Sweden that could activate the self-proclaimed Turkish guarantee? How could Turkey respond to any – and I hate to see this happen – how would Turkey respond to any “inter-communal” troubles which erupt in Germany or other parts of the European Union? That’s another phrase of course lifted from Cyprus.
C.P.: The point of my question though was not so much how the settlement would affect the Europeans or others, but how the fact that the strategic advantages of Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean, which now would be the beneficiaries, would be essentially Turkey and Britain, and such potential advantages would be denied to other regional states. There is, there was some talk, at least, of cooperation between Israel, Cyprus, and Greece, also Egypt, Cyprus and Greece. That took into a consideration the fact that the Republic of Cyprus would essentially control the advantages of Cyprus seas and provide those advantages to its other parties with whom it cooperated. Under the new settlement this will not be the case. What is your take on that? Is that a valid line of thinking, or will the other countries in the region reconcile themselves to the facts and cooperate with Turkey, essentially?
K.K.: Well, you’re inviting me to speculate. It’s an excellent question. I’m reluctant to speculate in the absence of seeing any of the documents that have been cooked up in secret. What I will say is – if I remember correctly – the ill-fated Annan Plan of 2004 included two rather curious provisions. The first included the constitutional obligation on what would have become the “United Cyprus Republic” to endorse the accession of Turkey to the European Union. That provision, if it’s replicated today, will effectively neutralize the post-settlement Cyprus and turn into an agent of Turkey in the European Union. In other words the European Union… Let’s just go back a bit. If there had been a settlement in 2004, the Republic of Cyprus, or whatever it would have been called – the “United Cyprus Republic” – would have been a Turkish agent in the European Union today. And thanks to those who voted against the Annan Plan, the Annan Plan wasn’t implemented. And Mr. Blair and the other advocates of the Annan Plan ended up with egg on their face back in 2004.
The second curious provision in the Annan Plan, which is potentially going to reappear in the secret process that’s unfolding today, concerns what was described in the Annan Plan as international military operations. If I recall correctly, the Republic of Cyprus, or the “United Cyprus Republic,” would have been prohibited from making its territory available to international military operations without the consent of Turkey. In other words, the sovereignty of the post-settlement Cyprus in 2004 would have been completely undermined and Turkey would have had a veto on how the Republic of Cyprus, or the post-settlement Cyprus, would have used its territory. Now the implications of that for what is going on in the region is enormous, because it means that the Republic of Cyprus, to use that phrase I used earlier, would have been back in 2004 a fully-fledged agent of Turkey. Now, if any such provisions are being negotiated in secret today – I don’t know. But that reinforces why we need to see the documents. We need to see the drafted legal instruments, we need to… Now, what are those draft legal instruments? If Annan Plan is any guide, there are three constitutions: one for the federation, one for one constituent state, one for the other constituent state. We’re talking about federal laws. We’re talking about constitutional laws. We’re talking about various other supporting documents. The answers to your question Christodoule may be found on page 243 of annex ‘E’ of document ‘X’. That’s why it’s so important that we see the documents and there is transparency in the process.
To summarize. Whatever is going to happen to Cyprus is inevitably going to have an impact upon Lebanon, upon Egypt, upon Israel, upon Greece, upon Malta, upon the rest of the European Union. And I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. In my view, the proposed double referendum in Cyprus is not enough. There should be a referendum in each and every one of the twenty eight member states of the European Union for each and every one of the twenty eight member states of the European Union to approve the transformation of the Republic of Cyprus into an agent of Turkey, to approve the implementation of the strategy of Turkey going back to 1956. And to approve the appeasement of Mr. Erdoğan, President Erdoğan, as he unfolds his de-democratization of Turkey. That’s a thought for everyone to think about.
C.P.: Klearchos, thank you very much. As always, a very great presentation. Thank you very much.
K.K.: You’re welcome. Thank you.