By Christos P Panayiotides
Parturiunt montes, nascetur mus. Freely translated, the phrase means “the mountains are experiencing the pains of labour but are likely to give birth to a mouse” or “a lot of fuss about nothing”. This classic Latin dictum perfectly describes the process which finally gave birth to the “new strategy” of the self-proclaimed “middle-of-the-political-spectrum” parties last week.
To dispel any remaining doubts as to whether the celebrated “new strategy” is in fact empty of substance and an incoherent body of words, I set out below (verbatim) the basic elements of this “new strategy”, as laid out on the official website of Diko, led by Nicolas Papadopoulos.
Diko’s New Strategy
- Withdrawing all the dangerous concessions already made and rejecting the unacceptable convergence understandings reached by Anastassiades and Christofias.
- Terminating the procedures of secret diplomacy and dispersing the clouds surrounding the negotiation process by means of on-going and prompt briefing sessions of the National Council, as well as through the expansion of the debates held in the House of Representatives and its committees.
- Disengaging from the damaging five-party conference process (given the absence of the Republic of Cyprus from the conference and its substitution by the two communities there).
- Upgrading the level of cooperation between Cyprus and Greece by instituting a Supreme Council of Strategic Cooperation.
- Structurally upgrading and substantially enhancing the capabilities of the National Guard, as an important factor for discouraging Turkish aggressiveness and expanding the defensive cooperation with Greece, within the framework of reviving the Unitary Defence Pact between the two countries.
- Placing the Cyprus problem in its proper perspective, as a problem of invasion and occupation, in line with the unanimous resolutions of the National Council and those of the UN Security Council.
- Adopting new negotiating tactics that will focus on the vital interests of the Greek Cypriots.
- Opposing the upgrading of the pseudostate and the leader of the occupied territory and preventing the integration of the occupied area into Turkey.
- Fully exploiting the European comparative advantage enjoyed by the Republic of Cyprus vis-a-vis Turkey, on the whole spectrum of Turkish-European relations (and not merely in connection with the negotiations concerning the future entry of Turkey into the union).
- Commercially exploiting, without delay, the hydrocarbon reserves of the Republic of Cyprus, initially through the use of the liquefying natural gas terminals located in Egypt and the construction, in the event that new reserves are found, of the East Med pipeline to Greece and Italy.
- Utilising part of the revenues generated by the exploitation of hydrocarbons for the creation of a special fund to support refugees, so that they are not forced to seek redress from the pseudo-committee on properties in the occupied areas.
- Renegotiating the status of the British Bases, with the ultimate goal of disbanding them altogether.
Analysing the specific component elements of the ”new strategy” discloses the basic objective of Nicolas Papadopoulos, which is none other than the partition of Cyprus, leading to the establishment of a thoroughbred Greek state in the south of Cyprus. It goes without saying that as a Cypriot citizen he has every right to judge what is best for Cyprus. However, I believe that he needs to have the political decency to present his choices to the Cyprus electorate in a clear and unambiguous manner.
His first three points aim at demolishing any prospect left of reuniting Cyprus. The next two offer Turkey the arguments she needs to insist on maintaining her intervention rights and her troops in Cyprus. The following two points are the “positive” elements of the “new strategy”, i.e. they convey the message that it is not simply a matter of demolition and levelling-off. Who is likely to shed a tear on hearing the argument that, 40 years ago, Turkey invaded Cyprus and since then has occupied the northern part of the island, remains an open question. Very relevant to this question and the upgrading of the “pseudostate” was this week’s article by Jack Straw, the ex-British foreign secretary, published in The Independent, in which he forcefully argues that the only solution left for resolving the Cyprus problem is the partition of the island.
The next element of Diko’s “new strategy” is the “full utilisation” by the Greek Cypriot Republic (as, regrettably, many foreigners already refer to the Republic of Cyprus) of its “European competitive advantage” vis-a-vis Turkey. Frankly, what exactly do you intend to do Mr Papadopoulos? And what evidence has convinced you that the foreign powers involved in the process will act in a manner that will negatively impact the significant geostrategic and economic interests they have in Turkey?
Then there are the points relating to the disbursement of the revenues, which may be generated from extracting hydrocarbons. Let us find the hydrocarbons, let us succeed in extracting and selling them at a profit and we then can decide what to do with the cash.
The last element of the “new strategy” is the “cherry on the pie”! One need not be a distinguished strategist to understand that it is mere lunacy to open a new front, when the resources you have at your disposal are extremely limited and you are already confronted with a serious risk of being the loser in relation to the very front which is already open.
The conclusions are yours.
Christos Panayiotides is a regular columnist writing in the Cyprus Mail and in Alithia