President Anastasiades made an interesting, if rather simplistic remark in an interview he gave to Bloomberg. “Turkey feels unrestrained given US efforts to keep the country in the Western alliance,” he said, noting that the international community had not acted to rein in President Erdogan either in Syria, or on Libya, in the Cyprus EEZ nor in relation to the fenced town of Varosha.
“There’s no decisiveness from countries to take appropriate measures and this raises the danger of conflict,” he warned. While he was generally correct, his equating Turkey’s actions in Syria and Libya to the actions in the Cypriot EEZ and Varosha was rather simplistic. Actions in Syria and Libya are war-related, causing loss of lives and destruction, heightening instability and threatening a wider regional flare-up.
Its actions in the Cypriot EEZ and Varosha, while unlawful and aggressive, do not pose any threat to regional stability and are therefore considered of little importance. What Anastasiades’ analysis of the situation should have been was that if the international community had failed to apply the brakes on Turkey in Syria and Libya, where its actions threaten a regional flare-up, there is no way it would do anything about the violations of the Cypriot EEZ and Varosha.
The reality is that even if the international community had done something to rein in Turkey in Libya and Syria it would be naïve to expect it do the same in the case of Cyprus, other than tell us to solve the Cyprus problem. This has been the standard response of the UN, the US and Russia whenever we seek a condemnation of Turkey’s illegal actions in our EEZ. The position on plans to reopen Varosha is unlikely to be any different.
Interestingly, Anastasiades made no mention of Russia’s unwillingness to rein in Turkey, as if Russia were not part of the international community. Turkey felt unrestrained because of US efforts to keep Turkey in the Western alliance, he claimed, omitting to mention that another strong reason for the aggressive behaviour was Moscow’s relentless efforts to strengthen its alliance with Turkey. The two countries cooperate in Syria also in Libya although some disagreements have emerged. Could Anastasiades not bring himself to cite close Ankara-Moscow ties as also contributing to Turkey’s unlawful actions?
Perhaps he did not want to alarm people with the thought that nobody is prepared to censure, let alone stop, Turkey for its actions, because neither the US and the EU, nor Russia would want to lose it as an ally. It was the same in 1974 even though only the West was blamed for failing to stop the Turkish invasion. The Soviet Union also did nothing, but like Russia today, did not merit a mention.