Lobby for Cyprus is a non-party-political human rights organisation campaigning for a reunited Cyprus.
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Summer 2007 Issue 20

23 June 2007
Who really calls the shots in occupied Cyprus?
The fallacies that Turkey is a genuine democracy and that the occupied area of Cyprus has the ability to take decisions independently of Turkey’s strategic interests have been well illustrated recently.

Ask Prime Minister Erdogan in Turkey or the leader of the Turkish Cypriots Mr Talat how they fared in their recent run-ins with the Turkish military. 

First Talat. Last summer, having agreed a way forward on behalf of the Turkish Cypriots for resumption of talks aimed at reunifying Cyprus, the so-called July 8 process, Talat travelled to Turkey to update General Buyukanit, the leader of the Turkish military machine. He was told in no uncertain terms that he needed to think again. Since then Talat has, unsurprisingly, obstinately refused to have anything to do with the July 8 process, to the massive disappointment of the rest of the world, including all five permanent members of the UN Security Council that fully supported implementation of the July 8 agreement. 

As for Mr Erdogan, he decided that he would like to run for office as president of Turkey. However both he and his second in command, Mr Gul, were not popular choices with the Turkish military, which again flexed its muscle and persuaded them not to run.

If there was ever any doubt as to who calls the shots in Turkey (and by extension in occupied Cyprus) this is a timely reminder! But perhaps more worrying is the revelation in the diaries of a retired admiral in the Turkish navy, that had Greek Cypriots accepted the discredited Annan Plan, the Turkish military would have launched an immediate coup in Turkey to prevent the Erdogan government abiding by their side of the bargain, namely the return of some stolen property to the Greek Cypriots. 

Meanwhile the Republic of Cyprus would have been dismantled, the existence of the British bases would have been accepted by Greek Cypriots in a referendum and the theft of properties in the occupied area would have been legitimised. 

Despite the desire for reunification of their island, this all lends evidence to Greek Cypriots that there is little hope for negotiating a solution with the Turkish Cypriots or even with the elected government in Turkey. 

Until the true power politics in Turkey is appreciated then no solution is likely to be found in Cyprus in the near future. If the US and the UK were serious about resolving the Cyprus issue fairly, then it is obvious that pressure must be applied on the real decision makers – the Turkish military. However, for as long as Turkish support continues to be needed by the West to shore up its own campaigns in the Middle East, no such pressure is likely to be applied.

Unless the international community takes notice of the role of the Turkish military in politics, there will be no imminent Cyprus settlement that is consistent with international law and protection of human rights – and thus capable of acceptance by Greek Cypriots.