Immediately after his inauguration as President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Cyprus where he declared that a solution exists, and that it amounts to the creation of two independent states on the island.
These statements provoked indignation. It was the first time – publicly at least – that such words were used by a Turkish head of state.
This week, demonstrating once again the timeless strategy of Turkey, the Foreign Ministry announced it would send a research vessel to explore for oil and natural gas near Cyprus’ southern shores, ie. far from the territory illegally occupied by Turkey and in an area where the Republic of Cyprus granted drilling rights to a consortium of Italian and South Korean companies.
Moreover, Turkey also sent two warships to protect the exploratory vessel. It is therefore clear that this situation is more serious than previous Turkish provocations.
In this case, it is an outrageous challenge to the sovereignty of Cyprus. The hydrocarbon deposits are a treasure for which, however, many countries have paid – and are paying a great price for …
In response to Turkey’ s actions, the Republic of Cyprus canceled the scheduled meeting scheduled between President Nicos Anastasiades and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Dervis Eroglu.
“It is clear that the Turkish actions leaves the Republic of Cyprus no other option” said the government spokesman. And he added: “Turkey’s actions simultaneously undermine the security, stability and peace in the region.”
These are serious statements that have not been heard for a long time. However the government spokesman is right:. These actions do actually … “undermine the security, stability and peace in the region.”
The question that arises, however, is how should Cyprus react? Or, more accurately, what kind of reaction is Cyprus capable of?
One option is to do exactly what the Cypriot government did: to suspend the meeting between the leaders of the two communities.
However, does that constitute a punishment or reward for the Turks?
Another course of action would for Cyprus to send its own warships and airplanes into the area to expel the Turkish ships from its sovereign territory. But, Cyprus has neither naval vessels nor aircraft.
Can Greece do it? Even if we assume that the answer is yes, what would be the possible consequences?
So I hope it is clear that this crisis is more serious than perhaps any other since the Turkish invasion. I further hope that it will be dealt by taking into consideration facts and realities, including the geopolitical situation in the region.
Because if this crisis is handled on that basis, this episode can be a catalyst for a meaningful substantive solution to the Cyprus problem.
Finally one wonders how Israel, reacting to all this.