By Christos P Panayiotides
“Weaning” is the stage of a baby’s rehabilitation from breastfeeding. In the political sphere, the term is often used to describe the desirable objective of weaning Turkish Cypriots from Turkey. This is a political absurdity, given the behaviour and the way of thinking of certain Greek Cypriots (who fortunately represent only a small minority of the Greek Cypriot community).
Turkish Cypriot dependence on Turkey is focused on two principal areas: (a) The military strength of Turkey and its resulting ability to protect the Turkish Cypriots from possible threats from the Greek Cypriots and (b) the economic strength of Turkey and its resulting ability to protect the Turkish Cypriots from an economic blockade and economic isolation in general. It is readily evident that if we genuinely wish to wean Turkish Cypriots off Turkey, we must do two things:
The first is to provide the Turkish Cypriot community with safeguard to induce a feeling of solid security and safety. A realistic analysis of this issue leads to the conclusion that such safeguards can only be provided with the involvement of third parties, such as the European Union (but not of Turkey, because the involvement of the latter would amount to a threat against Greek Cypriots but also because it would undermine the weaning process). To date has the Republic of Cyprus proposed a specific, concrete plan that would secure this sense of security for the Turkish Cypriots? The answer to this question is a clear-cut “no”.
The second issue is to secure the economic survival and well-being of Turkish Cypriots without the need for economic dependence on and support from Turkey. Has the Republic of Cyprus done anything to promote this economic independence? The answer to this question is identical: “absolutely nothing”.
In fact, if you ask the Turkish Cypriots they would cite many examples in which the Greek Cypriot side appeared to be encouraging their economic isolation and impoverishment, the ultimate aim being to force them to agree to arrangements that they would consider unfair. In creating this impression, the contribution of certain senior members of foreign ministry staff and of certain journalists (whose “patriotic” zeal aims at poisoning the climate between the two communities and at leading to the conclusion that the partition of Cyprus is the only “realistic” solution to the problem) was significant. The reasons why these people are systematically working in this direction have been the subject-matter of earlier articles of mine. The reasons are numerous and include the servicing of interests that are alien to the interests of Cyprus.
It follows that the way forward is to formulate specific and concrete proposals that would adequately address the justified concerns of the other side, rather than throw smoke-bombs, which blur the picture for a while but otherwise serve no purpose.
Given this background, it is truly surprising that the Greek Cypriot side hopes to achieve their ‘weaning’ objective (or, as I prefer to put it, the severance of the political umbilical cord connecting Cyprus with the “motherlands”).
The Greek Cypriots and, by extension the Republic of Cyprus, have two options. Either they should embrace the Turkish Cypriots and extend to them the love, respect and care which should be extended to all the citizens of Cyprus or they should abandon their desire to wean and accept the consequences of their failure. I have the impression that the Turkish Cypriots wish to end their reliance on Turkey but they believe that the Greek Cypriots are unwilling to allow them to do so.
Christos Panayiotides is a regular columnist writing in the Cyprus Mail, Sunday Mail and Alithia