TWO F16 fighter jets of the Greek air force took part in Sunday’s Independence Day military parade, inspiring the familiar platitudes from politicians. Speaking after the parade to mark the 57th anniversary of Cyprus’ independence, President Anastasiades said that “thanks to the closer co-operation we have (with Greece) with the presence of planes, the necessary conditions are created that will put us in a position to negotiate from a position of strength, but we are also in a position to avert any offensive actions.”
Does he seriously believe that two Greek fighter jets, flying over a parade for the first time since 2001 will ensure we can negotiate from a position of strength? Of course not, because he is a pragmatic politician. Unfortunately, he is also a populist with no qualms about taking advantage of what plays well with the population, especially a few months before presidential elections. The president most probably asked the Greek government to send the fighter jets for the parade, knowing that their presence would be a vote-winner.
Greece’s defence minister, Panos Kamenos, who represented his government at the parade, first waxed lyrical about the “truly, grand parade” and then declared that “for Greece, Cyprus is never far away.”
We have heard these platitudes on countless occasions in the past, but the reality is that Greece is not only far away but is also in no position to offer any defensive cover to Cyprus. This was evident even when the so-called Unified Defence Dogma was in place in the late 1990s. The dogma was nothing more than rhetoric and was eventually exposed as such even though the Clerides government made great political capital out of it for as long as it was supposedly in force.
Now it seems the presidential candidates are again serving the military co-operation card. In his new strategy for the Cyprus problem presented last Friday, one of the points raised by Nicolas Papadopoulos was the revival of the Unified Defence Dogma. Presumably, like his rival candidate Anastasiades, he also believes this will enable us to negotiate from a position of strength.
The question nobody seems to ask is whether Greece is in any position, geographically and economically to offer defensive cover to Cyprus. This is not answered by Kamenos, declaring “Cyprus is never far away,” nor by two F16 flying over the parade.
It seems though that our politicians never give up feeding people vacuous rhetoric and false hopes on defence. People are as much to blame for unquestioningly accepting this despite being deceived so many times in the past.