THE knee-jerk reaction of the political parties and newspapers, sparked by the London meeting of Turkish Cypriot ‘foreign minister’ Ozdil Nami with Britain’s Minister for Europe, David Lidington could not have surprised anyone. Any meeting of Turkish Cypriot officials with representatives of foreign governments abroad is guaranteed to provoke a chorus of disapproving announcement by the parties, all expressing fears about the ‘upgrading of the pseudo-state’. This alleged upgrading, has been taking place for years.
The Cyprus government, fearing it might be accused by the parties and some newspapers of a taking a soft line on the meeting decided to enter the fray. The foreign ministry issued a strongly-worded statement condemning the meeting which “was held despite the intense and repeated warnings of the Republic at various levels, which have been disregarded by London.” It said the assurances that Britain did not recognise the ‘TRNC’ could “not be considered satisfactory.”
Anticipating similar contacts in Washington, which Nami was also scheduled to visit, government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said “it is possible problems would be created in relations between the Cyprus Republic and the countries that facilitate this type of contacts.” He did not elaborate on the nature of the problems that would be created, probably because he did not know. We presume this was just an idle threat to keep the newspapers and political parties happy.
It would be no exaggeration to say that the government was taking part in the Cyprus problem theatre which follows a very rigid script. When a newspaper or a political party identifies the danger of the ‘upgrading the pseudo-state’ it alerts society and the government immediately issue statements of condemnation and makes representations to the country or countries supposedly facilitating this upgrading.
We have been witnessing this ‘theatre of the reactions’ for decades now because the politicians still believe it pays off domestically. It is unfortunate that the government feels it has a national duty to take part in this theatre which achieves nothing except to illustrate its bad faith.
It is not as if the regular representations have stopped countries from granting meetings to Turkish Cypriot officials. These are obviously ignored as the meetings keep taking place, exposing the government’s weakness and reliance on hollow words.
The upgrading that everyone is terrified of never actually takes place but this is not because the government makes representations and the parties issue fiery declarations. It is because the international community still believes there could be a Cyprus settlement. But when it decides that this will never happen we may witness the only upgrading that will matter.