Cyprus Mail
CM Regular ColumnistCyprus TalksOpinion

The lukewarm war between Russia and Turkey may heat up in Cyprus next

Kasparov was the Russian world chess champion for 20 years

By Alper Riza

Cyprus is a small island in a troubled region and in recent history her people have consistently shown a misguided understanding of what is in their best interests. The last thing they need at the moment is to take sides in the lukewarm war that has broken out between Russia and Turkey. Yet the people of Cyprus have begun talking themselves into the heart of this war without even realising it, and it falls on those of us who take it upon ourselves to think the unthinkable to think aloud lest Cyprus sleepwalks into another disastrous war.

The temptation of the Turkish Cypriots is to side with the motherland. This natural inclination to support Turkey in her conflict with Russia must be resisted at all costs, and the best way to resist the temptation is to settle the Cyprus problem as soon as possible and urgently disengage from the present Turkish regime on the grounds that it is too Islamic and contrary to Ataturk’s secular vision of a western orientated Turkey. Turkish Cypriots are secular citizens of the European Union, most of whom if pressed would wish all those who are not such citizens to begin making arrangements to leave north Cyprus unless they have a human rights claim to remain.

The temptation of the Greek Cypriots is to agree to dance with the Russian bear in the hope that Russia will help the Republic in any attempt to regain north Cyprus from Turkey’s control. This too must be resisted at all costs by the ready expedient of solving the Cyprus problem. There is a Russian proverb that has been doing the rounds lately as it applies to Turkey, but it also applies from the opposite direction to Cyprus even though she is being embraced rather than attacked by Russia.

It is that ‘if you decide to dance with a bear don’t stop dancing when you get tired.’ In other words when the lukewarm war between Russia and Turkey heats up – as it inevitably will – Cyprus will inevitably become the battleground whether the Cypriots like it or not. So the answer to the Russian invitation to dance should be the well known classic dance rebuff, ‘thanks but no thanks!’

Thinking the unthinkable aloud means projecting what would happen if despite all the optimism about the talks to solve the Cyprus problem, the Russians and their lackeys in Cyprus have their way and the talks fail and the Cypriots do not resist the temptation to support their respective motherlands – Mother Russia in the case of the Greek Cypriots, and Islamic Turkey in the case of the Turkish Cypriots – and the lukewarm war becomes a hot war and Cyprus becomes the battleground like Syria is today. What then?

Well, a lot of people will get killed and injured and displaced. Properties will be destroyed and our towns will look like Grozny in Chechnya and Damascus, Aleppo and Homs in Syria. The economy will be ruined. The rich already all have properties in London and Athens and will no doubt seek refuge there. The common man and woman will suffer the most as usual and Cyprus as we know it will be no more.

It will be a Pyrrhic victory whichever side wins. We should give both the Russians and the Turks a wide berth. We are much better off with the English and European devils we know! For all those who believe the military arrival of Russia in our region is good news I recommend you read Winter is Coming by Garry Kasparov on President Putin and Russia today. Kasparov was the Russian world chess champion for 20 years. He knows Russia and understands war and strategy and tactics better than most and his book repays attention.

Alper Riza is a queen’s counsel in the UK and a part time judge

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