by Dimitris Konstantakopoulos (*)
There are two fundamental aspects of the Greek bail-out program that are usually overlooked, as most people consider it to be just a harsh neoliberal economic program.
But the Greek bail-out program is much more than that. It is first and foremost a regime-change program, experimenting in a EU country with the abolition of the bourgeois democratic regime such as we have known it in Europe since 1945, if not since the English and French revolutions. If it succeeds in Greece, it will be repeated elsewhere in the continent.
By essentially denying the principle of popular sovereignty, it is also denying the principle of national sovereignty, the (relatively) independent character of the Greek state. Greece occupies a strategic place in the Eastern Mediterranean, on the route connecting Russia with the Mediterranean and Western Europe with the Middle East. Its independence was never completely tolerated by the British and then the American empires. Greeks were also suspected of leaning towards Russians, or at least this was the argument justifying the innumerable Western interventions in this country.
The abolition of the Greek state is a strategic transformation of enormous geopolitical consequences. This is even truer for the Republic of Cyprus, located as it is in an even more strategic location in the Eastern Mediterranean and also inhabited by Greeks (82% of the population).
Both the US administration and the EU leadership now seem to be in an extraordinary hurry to secure an immediate solution to the Cyprus problem, a problem dating from 1974. They seek, if possible, to find a solution during 2016 or at the beginning of 2017.
They are applying the maximum of possible pressure on President Anastasiades to accept whatever Ankara is asking and to present as soon as possible to the Cypriot people, in a new referendum, a variant of the Annan project for solution of the conflict. This project was rejected by an overwhelming majority of Cypriot voters in the referendum of 2004.
It may be no coincidence that the same London law firm that drafted the Greek “Loan Agreement” had previously also drafted the Annan Plan for Cyprus, if, at least, we are to give credence to what is claimed in an article published in the Greek magazine Epikaira.
EU enters into the Cyprus equation
Everybody knows the astonishing successes the European Union has had in confronting its own crisis, in saving Greece or in addressing the problems of the Middle East. Of course there are always people of bad faith, who would say that Greece was destroyed while they were saving it, or that it was not a great idea to bomb Libya to save it from Gaddafi, as France and Britain did, or to send arms to Islamists in Syria. Others will say that the EU has failed to persuade its own citizens how correct its policies are, as demonstrated in successive elections and referenda. There are always people of bad faith, who can make only negative comments. The reality is that the European Union is moving from one success to another.
This is probably why Mr. Juncker believes that he should now exercise his know-how on other problems as well, such as for instance the Cyprus conflict, to which he devoted a part of his recent “State of the Union” speech. It is only coincidental that this sudden interest in Cyprus in Brussels also coincides with Washington’s great interest in solving this conflict, if possible, before the end of the year.
It is also a pure coincidence that USA and Israel seem now more pressed than ever to construct a pipeline connecting Israel with Turkey. They believe that such a pipeline would stabilize Turkey inside the Western system and would exclude Russians from the southern energy routes. But such a pipeline presupposes solution of the Cyprus problem.
The EU is so keen to help Cypriots “reunify”, that the Commission is said to be ready to override the EU’s own laws, accepting a “solution” to the conflict that will seriously contravene fundamental provisions of the Union.
No doubt all this represents a huge opportunity for Cyprus. It is easy to imagine how rosy the future of the island will be if the two strongest powers in the world, the Unites States and the European Union, cooperate to solve its problems. Cypriots can be sure of that. All their neighbors in the Middle East, such as Syria and Libya, have derived enormous benefits from the US and Europe being interested in them.
During his speech, Juncker explained that the EU will do everything possible to “reunify” the island. Now one may believe that Greeks were responsible for the conflict. Others will say that the Turks are to blame. (There are also some people of extremely bad faith who believe that the whole Cyprus question has been a by-product of British and then US imperial policy. They even blame the distinguished Henry Kissinger for the whole Cypriot tragedy of 1974!)
In any case, everybody can have their opinion on who was responsible for events in Cyprus. But, speaking from the viewpoint of international law and the unanimous resolutions of the UN Security Council, Cyprus is not “a divided country to be unified”, as Mr. Juncker put it. It is a country that has been invaded by another country that is still occupying a large part of its territory. This occupied territory also happens to be the territory of the European Union.
Division or invasion and occupation?
Mr. Juncker seems to be ignoring all this. He could have asked Mrs. Merkel herself who, when she was in opposition, wrote a letter to her counterparts in the European People’s Party explaining that it is not a good idea to invite into the Union Turkey, a country still occupying part of another country (Turkey occupying part of Cyprus). Then she became Chancellor and, we suppose under pressure from USA or opportunistic reasons, she forgot what she had written.
Another European politician, the French Gaullist Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, went on record in Europe 2, on August 2nd, 2005, to say that it is just inconceivable that Turkey and the EU begin accession negotiations while Ankara does not even recognize the Republic of Cyprus, a member of EU. He also had to forget his own position later.
The facts have proven beyond doubt that France, Germany and European public opinion count for less than the will of Washington, London and Israel, all of them pressing hard for decades to impose to unwilling Europeans the idea of the Turkish accession into the EU.
What has happened in Cyprus?
The very term “divided” Cyprus is rather misplaced, especially coming from EU officials, in reference to a country and a member-state of the EU that has been invaded by another country. Cyprus used to be one country and one state – the Republic of Cyprus – until Turkish troops invaded the island in 1974 and occupied a large part of its territory, from which they have expelled the majority of the Greek population, which happened to be the majority of all the population (Greeks were a majority in all regions of Cyprus, the territories occupied now by the Turkish army included).
During this military campaign 3% of the Cypriot population perished, proportionally more than the victims of the invasion of Iraq. Under threat, the remaining Greek Cypriots in the occupied areas had to move south, and Turkish Cypriots from the South were ordered to move to the north of the island.
The origins of the conflict
When Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974 it did so claiming that it had to protect the constitutional order of the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Cypriot minority living there, because of the coup fomented by the Athens junta against the elected government of Cyprus in July 1974. (Since that time Turkey has stopped even recognizing Cyprus. Ankara is now holding accession negotiations to the EU despite the fact that it does not recognize one of its members!) (*)
But, in any case, if the goal of Turkey was to protect Turkish Cypriots and preserve the constitutional order of the Cypriot Republic, this goal was achieved by the end of July 1974. Both the Athens junta and the regime it had imposed in Cyprus collapsed. Greeks were not in position to harm Turkish Cypriots and negotiations were under way in Geneva to resolve the conflict.
It was only in August 1974, after having achieved its pretended goals in Cyprus, that Ankara, encouraged by Henry Kissinger, launched a second military campaign, occupying nearly half of the island and laying the basis for completion of the ethnic cleansing of the Greek population from the north of the island, where, as we already said, they had constituted a majority.
This second military campaign was also necessary from Kissinger’s point of view. The real architect of the Cyprus tragedy simply wanted to get rid of the Republic of Cyprus. He wanted NATO to control the island and one way to do it was to divide it between Greece and Turkey, two members of the Atlantic Alliance, closely controlled by the United States.
But the plan did not remain successful to the end. In Chile, Kissinger had had Salvador Allende killed. In Cyprus President Makarios escaped the assassination attempt. With all radios announcing his death, Cypriots heard his voice (and they will remember this all their life), being broadcast from a Paphos local station and telling them “I am alive”, before calling upon them to resist.
Makarios escaped from the island with the help of the British. In the island itself the Socialists of Vassos Lyssarides were fighting for freedom. Soon the Greek junta collapsed and there was a revolutionary situation in both Greece and Cyprus, where anti-American feelings were at their height. The Kissinger plan would have totally collapsed and it would have had opposite results to those intended by its originators if a second Turkish invasion had not followed.
As a result of all these events, the Republic of Cyprus as a state has survived, albeit mutilated, to our day. The Security Council of the UN has unanimously recognized its government as the sole legitimate government of the island and asked for the withdrawal to Turkey of the troops kept in Cyprus by Ankara. (The north of the island, occupied by Turkey, is the most militarized region on Earth).
Same goals, different methods
What are the USA and the EU now pushing for? They want the Greeks essentially to accept many of the results of the invasion and of the occupation of the island, including the continued presence of significant Turkish forces. As for the internal structure of the state, the rule of majority has to be abolished, because Turkish Cypriots, who are a minority, cannot accept that they should live under Greek power.
It is only normal that a minority of the population should demand, and receive, special protection rights. It is not normal that, through invocation of the need to protect the minority, all rights of the majority should be abolished!
This is a way to transform Cyprus into a protectorate. If you have two parties within the decision-making process, every time they disagree, no decision can be made. Foreign judges and foreign officials appointed by Annan would take all final decisions according to the Annan Plan and the same provisions would be valid for the new regulations under discussion. In Greece you now have a foreign troika running the country like the judges at Kafka’s Trial. In Cyprus it has been proposed that a troika of foreign judges should rule it (and behind that judicial troika, there would be the real geopolitical troika of the region: US-Britain-Israel).
Here is where both ends meet. What they are pursuing now is that same goal as in 1974, namely the destruction of the Republic of Cyprus as a democratic, sovereign and independent state – exactly what they were able to achieve in Greece, by other means. In the past they were trying to do it through invasions, military coups and attempted assassinations. Now they do it employing post-modern political, diplomatic and economic methods, to the accompaniment of a lot of talk condemning nationalism. The essence of the proposed solution is that Cyprus should be transformed into a post-modern Western protectorate, with the potential for transformation into a Bosnia- like entity inside the EU.
Control Cyprus completely. Exclude any Russian presence from the Mediterranean. Transform European states into protectorates, in one form or another. These were the goals in 1974 and they are the same in 2016. This is what the US administration and, in obedient acquiescence, the EU bureaucracy and European governments want to accomplish as soon as possible.
(*) Of course, one should remember at this point that it was not an elected Greek government that organized the coup in Nicosia in 1974. It was a dictatorial regime, imposed by the US and NATO, which was ruling in Athens and organized the coup. Many analysts believe, by the way, that the only reason Americans imposed the dictatorship on Greece in 1967 was so that they would be able to organize the coup and provide Turkey with the pretext it needed to invade the island.
Before becoming an ethnic and religious conflict the Cyprus problem was a colonial one – and so in fact it remains. London wanted to exclude Cyprus from the decolonization process for one reason. It was the most essential link between the West and the Middle East and the most valuable strategic location in all the Eastern Mediterranean. “We have acquired the missing link”, said the British P.M. Disraeli, who hated Greeks, when his country took Cyprus from the Ottomans, in 1878. To keep Cyprus, imperial Britain fomented every kind of antagonism – Turkish Cypriots against Greek Cypriots, Turkey against Greece, communists against nationalists and so on. The USA under Kissinger followed suit.
(*) Journalist and writer. He served as special advisor to the Office of Greek PM Andreas Papandreou (1985-88), working on Arms Control and East-West relations. He has been chief correspondent of the Athens News Agency in Moscow (1989-1999). He has been the Secretary of the Movement of Independent Citizens (2011-12) and a member of the Secretariat and the Central Committee of SYRIZA (2012-13). He left this party in July 2015. A member of the editorial board of the international review of self-management “Utopie Critique”, he is actively involved in the Delphi international Initiative for Democracy. He is the author of three books on relations between CPSU and Greek CP, the Cyprus conflict and US policy in Eastern Mediterranean and on relations between Nation and the Left.