by Aris Petasis, via Defend Democracy Press
The Cyprus problem is a Russian problem as well. The current purblind negotiations, ostensibly between the two Cypriot communities (82% Greek and 18% Turkish), are strictly directed by NATO under the watchful eye of 40,000 Turkish occupation troops that hold 37% of Cyprus’s land and 54% of its shores. At every major juncture in Cyprus’ recent history one finds the obsession with Russia of Britain and its successor in the Eastern Mediterranean (EM), America.
The Russia factor featured strongly in 1878 (and before of course.) In that year the Ottomans ceded Cyprus to Britain in exchange for United Kingdom’s military support to the Ottomans (read: Turkish) should Russia attempt to take possession of territories of the Ottomans in Asia. So, we see the people of Cyprus treated as commodity; Turkey and Britain acting as traders and Russia as collateral. With the start of WWI Cyprus was put under British military occupation (1914-1925) and then became a British crown colony (1925-1960.) During WWI when the Turks joined the losing side, Britain promised to cede Cyprus to Greece, just as it did in 1864 with some Greek-populated islands. But Britain reneged on its promise perfidiously because of its obsession with keeping Russia in check in the EM. The Treaty of Lausanne of 1923 established the new Turkish state which in turn formally recognized Britain’s sovereignty over Cyprus (article 20).
The British distrust the Greeks because of favourable Greek sentiment towards Russia. Beyond the cultural links between Greeks and Russians, Russia deservedly earned the appreciation of the Greeks. In 1770 at Catherine the Great’s behest, the Orlov brothers attempted unsuccessfully to free the Greeks from Turkish bondage. The Greek General Alexander Ypsilanti, who fought against Napoleon as officer of the Russian Cavalry, led the Greek war of independence against the Turks. A Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ioannis Kapodistrias, was the first Governor of liberated Greece. The battle of Navarino of 1827, that saw the crushing of the Turkish navy, was initiated by Russia (with Rear-Admiral Lodewijk Heyden of the Imperial Russian Navy) and then, so as not to be left out, France and Britain (with philhellene Vice-Admiral Edward Codrington) joined the fray. This led to independence in 1829 for some Greek territory. Just after WWII, when the issue of Cyprus was raised again, the British toyed with the idea of ceding Cyprus to Greece. The project was stopped when the British (and Americans) brought up cunningly the imaginary danger of Greece falling under communism and ultimately siding with the Soviet Union (read: Russia). Of course the Yalta agreement had put paid to such eventuality (Greece went to the West by 90%) whilst the massive military support the British and Americans gave the anti-communists (many of whom were shadowy characters and collaborators) had sealed the communists’ fate. Here again the legitimate ambitions of the Greeks of Cyprus were thwarted largely on account of the West’s obsession with Russia.
Years later, and after Cyprus was given fettered independence by the British in 1960, NATO accused Cyprus’ president of close relations with Cyprus’ “communists.” In response, NATO started to work tirelessly towards the dissolution of the Republic of Cyprus (RofCy) for fear that Russia would use the “communists” as the thin edge of the wedge to gain entry into Cyprus. All this was of course nonsense. So, the British and the Americans set their sights at replacing the RofCy with a new amalgam to be run 50-50 by the 18% Turks and the 82% Greeks, ushering in minority tyranny and government paralysis. This was meant to meet NATO’s two objectives in Cyprus: (a) to set up a regime that would be paralysed by minority Turkish vetoes so that the Greeks would never be able to side with friend Russia and (b) to establish in Cyprus a second NATO (Turkish) presence (in addition to Britain’s).
The Americans want, in this order, Cyprus, Crete and Greece as military staging posts against anybody that dares oppose the American line. In the last twenty years, NATO & Co have used the British military bases in Cyprus regularly to bomb a multitude of countries. Now, NATO is just a step away from meeting both objectives. The first objective has already been met in that the Greek nomenklatura of the last 8 years accepted the dissolution of the RofCy and its replacement by a 50-50 Frankenstein state. As regards the additional NATO military base on Cyprus, all guns are now trained on the already browbeaten Greek representatives. NATO remains optimistic. In this way NATO hopes to seal Russia’s and Greece’s fate in Cyprus; but not yet because what has been agreed to date will need to be put to a referendum. If the plan goes through, the Greeks will be put on a path of emigration. Uncertainty will reign, conflict will rule and violence and intimidation against the Greeks will probably be organised from Turkey. In the absence of a serious central government, mass colonisation from Turkey will follow immediately after since controls will all but disappear.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova was right to accuse recently the West of persistent attempts to speed up negotiations and to push for a solution at all costs. She warned of a repeat of the 2004 fiasco when the disastrous NATO-initiated Anan plan (masquerading as a UN plan) was rejected massively by the people of Cyprus and blatantly supported by those in power now. The same sources continue to support the current NATO plan.
Thankfully there is a huge chasm separating some in the political elite of Cyprus and the people, as the people want a democratic rather than a NATO solution. Incidentally, the current administration in Cyprus called repeatedly on NATO to accept Cyprus in its ranks, forgetting that NATO’s primary objective is the encirclement of Russia. Russia now needs to stand firm on the side of a democratic solution. Using its vast diplomatic weight Russia can thwart the current NATO plan before it goes to referendum. A strong Russian position will give courage to the people of Cyprus. If the Greeks surrender, NATO will become the choreographer of Cyprus’ political life from then on.
As Greece is just a sorry bystander, only Russia can save Cyprus. If the NATO plan for Cyprus succeeds Russia will end up as its geostrategic casualty and the Greeks of Cyprus as collateral damage.
Aris Petasis is the editor, “Intractable Dilemmas in the Energy-Rich Eastern Mediterranean”, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, UK, 2016
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