The date 20 July represents the awful anniversary of Turkey’s illegal, brutal and unjustified invasion of the Republic of Cyprus in 1974. It was followed on 14 August 1974 by the equally illegal, brutal and unjustified second invasion in which Turkey ethno-religiously cleansed 36 per cent of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus. Turkey has remained in occupation of it ever since. In 1974, the world looked on with sympathy but did absolutely nothing of any substance in response.
We are currently witnessing the most dangerous developments in the Cyprus issue since 1974. Turkey is carrying out a third invasion by illegally sending drill ships into the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Republic of Cyprus – initially to explore but no doubt subsequently to drill. At the same time Turkey has secretly despatched 40 tanks newly purchased from Germany to the occupied area for what purposes no one knows. At the same time, Turkey has recently taken purchase also of the S-400 missile system from Russia allegedly to defend itself and threatened to open up the town of Varosha under Turkish control, despite having refrained from doing so for 45 years in order to use the town as a bargaining chip in the mislabelled peace talks. To cap it all, Turkey has descended into tyranny and, with the help of Russia, it is now building a nuclear power station in a seismically active area to the north of the occupied area.
The aggression of Turkey towards the Republic of Cyprus continues unchecked and contrary to countless UN resolutions. Turkey’s blatant disregard for human rights, cultural heritage and international law knows no limits. And still the world looks on with sympathy but does nothing to confront this bully.
Appeasing a bully never works. Turkey will not change her spots and it is foolish to hope that she will. Successive Cypriot governments have tried to play the good guys out of fear of upsetting powerful Western allies. Those Western allies have in turn tried not to upset their presumed regional ally and member of Nato, Turkey.
Turkey has always been a threat to its indigenous minorities and near neighbours as demonstrated by successive pogroms and genocides against the Pontic Greeks, Asia Minor Greeks, Assyrians, Armenians, the Greeks of Cyprus, the Kurds and others. Who will be next? Is it sensible to allow Turkey to arm herself to the hilt with Russian support? Is it wise to let Turkey build a nuclear reactor so close to the Republic of Cyprus?
Allowing the Turks to get away with it in Cyprus sends a signal that international law doesn’t matter.
Strong economic sanctions are needed from the US, EU and UN to restrain this neighbourhood bully. Without them Turkey will continue to bring insecurity, instability and injustice to the Eastern Mediterranean.
The Cyprus issue can only be resolved by uniting the Republic of Cyprus on the basis of the rule of law, justice, democracy, self-determination and the 3Rs:
- The Removal of Turkish troops;
- The humane Repatriation of the Turkish colonists;
- The right of Return of all refugees and forcibly displaced persons.
These are the messages that the West must now send to Turkey.
Lobby for Cyprus is a non-party-political human rights organisation that campaigns for a unitary Cypriot state without segregation along ethnic and religious lines