The foreign ministry on Wednesday issued a statement which said among other things: “For yet another time we are watching with astonishment and concern the effort of Turkey to distort the historical realities in relation to its invasion of Cyprus in 1974 and the continuing illegal occupation for the northern part of the island.”

The astonishment and concern of the ministry was sparked by an exchange between the foreign ministries of Greece and Turkey regarding posts by the former about the completion of 48 years of occupation. Turkey’s response was that Greece’s Foreign Minister Nicos Dendias was “distorting” the realities in Cyprus and that “Turkey’s intervention was lawful because it was based on the London and Zurich agreements.”

Cyprus’ foreign ministry pointed out that the restoration of constitutional order was just a pretext used by Turkey to invade in 1974. “An act, by definition illegal and contrary to International Law. Since then, it continues to hold 36 per cent of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus, settling the occupied part of Cyprus and attempting to alter the demographic character of the island.”

There was also mention of the devastation caused by the invasion, with the ministry also saying: “With hybrid tactics and unlawful actions, it is attempting even today the Islamification of the occupied area, to weaken the secular character of the Turkish Cypriot community and to impose conditions of dependency between the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey.”

There is one mistake in the foreign ministry’s exposition of the situation in the north. Turkey is not attempting to change the demographic character of the island, but has already done so. Turkish nationals, be they settlers, businesspeople, guest workers or students, according to the data, outnumber the Turkish Cypriots. Turkish Cypriot politicians and NGOs frequently protest about the ‘TRNC citizenship’ granted to Turks and argue that they have become a minority.

As for the Islamification, it is not just being attempted it has been imposed and the secular character of the community is being crushed by Turkey as is political dissent and criticism of Ankara. As for the dependency of the north on Turkey, it is as old as the occupation.

It is fine for the Cyprus foreign ministry to issue scathing statements about the situation in the north as if it were a news medium, but it would be interesting to know what it has done to prevent all this from happening? It is all well and good to describe the state of affairs in the north but it would also be good to know what our foreign ministry has done to prevent the change of the demographic character, Islamification and complete dependence of the north on Turkey.

Had it advised governments to do anything other than to report Turkey to the UN, year in, year out, despite the utter futility of this exercise, and to file complaints to the European Commission about Turkey’s unlawful actions? The foreign ministry has always had a rejectionist culture, labouring under the illusion that it would put Turkey in the dock and punish it for the invasion and occupation, something it has completely failed to do, despite claims to the contrary.

Presidents and ministers have come and gone, but the ministry’s anti-settlement culture remained unchanged. Was it a coincidence that in 2013 Diko, the party of rejectionism named foreign ministry stalwart Andreas Mavroyiannis as the Greek Cypriot side’s chief negotiator? He is now posing as the pro-settlement candidate of Akel.

For years now the foreign ministry has been preventing the Turkish Cypriots from having formal contacts with the outside world, because this, it argued, would lead to the so-called upgrading of the illegal state. Perhaps this was necessary given that the Republic had no other way to apply pressure on the north but should our astute diplomats not have recognised that this would make the Turkish Cypriots’ totally dependent on Turkey? Why was winning over the Turkish Cypriots, admittedly a difficult task without guarantee of success, never pursued?

When we had the opportunities to end Turkey’s stranglehold hold over the north, in 2004 and 2017, we ignored them, the foreign ministry on both occasions at the forefront of the campaign against a settlement. Again, our diplomats failed to see the long-term benefit of the whole of Cyprus being a member of the EU, which would have ended the north’s dependence on Turkey, put an end to change of the demographic character of the north, prevented the Islamification we are currently witnessing and seen of the prospect of two state solution that is now on the cards.

Perhaps the foreign ministry should engage in some self-criticism and a re-appraisal of the role it has played in creating the state of affairs it is now complaining about. Turkey is at fault, but we should also take some responsibility for our historic failure in preventing it from achieving all its objectives in Cyprus.