After being disgraced and sent packing out of the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey seems to have not learnt the lessons and has opened another front. Ankara is back at it, now with the decision of reopening the parts of Varosha on Cyprus’s east coast.
Erdogan’s actions are incomprehensible, it has taken on so many countries that people can write whole doctoral theses on the different fronts that Ankara has opened. Turkey is currently engaged in multiple theatres of conflict, which are, Libya, Northern Syria, Southern Caucuses (between Azerbaijan and Armenia), now Cyprus and many indirect conflicts and confrontations.
Turkey has many enemies now and is fast losing friends. The Greeks, Russians and European Union have condemned the actions of Ankara and others may soon join the list, with the USA, France, Germany, UAE, Israel, Saudi Arabia, etc. already angry and contemplating actions against Erdogan’s regime.
The resort city of Varosha became a ghost town since the 1974 invasion of Cyprus by the Turkish forces dividing the Island into ethnic cum religious lines. The Greek Cypriots had to leave in the face of invading Turkish forces. Around 150,000 people left everything in this town with just a pair of clothes and footwear. It was only after the UN intervention that the ceasefire was reached and the town became a no man’s land.
Opening it has brought out many bad memories among the owners and residents of the now ghost town. They say it is just heartbreaking and very unfortunate. There have been huge demonstrations among the Greek Cypriots of southern Cyprus, whereas it is being supported in certain sections of northern Cyprus’s population.
Opening its parts after 46 years has brought sharp criticism from many countries. Greece’s spokesperson Stelios Petsas on Thursday said, “Turkey needs to take a step back. If it doesn’t, next week both Cyprus and Greece will table the matter for discussion by EU leaders at the October 16-17 European Council.”
President of the Republic of Cyprus in a tweet said, “Phone conversation tonight with @eucopresident. I conveyed our grave concern regarding #Turkey‘s illegal action to open the beachfront of the fenced city of #Varosha, in blatant violation to the relevant #UN Security Council Resolutions, despite repeated calls for de-escalation.”
The USA has been maintaining bases in Cyprus and Greece, and just recently in September Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited both these countries. The US State Department disclosed on 1st October that it will remove the embargo for the sale and transfer of “non-lethal defence articles and defence services” to Cyprus. Actions by Ankara are in direct contradiction to Washington’s interests.
As the USA is looking at the prospects of creating Greece and Cyprus its bases of operations in Eastern Europe and the Middle East in the face of a belligerent Turkey, Erdogan’s efforts look like a challenge to the USA’s efforts.
Earlier, the EU slammed Turkish actions, strongly condemning the violations of Republic of Cyprus’s sovereignty. The opening up of the beach at Varosha rubs salt at all the wounds of Greek Cypriot populations and works against the peace process as it opens the wounds which seem to have been healing.
This action comes just before the elections in the northern territories occupied by the Turkish forces and resided by the Turkic Cypriots. The Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said that these actions are an effort to influence Sunday’s presidential elections in Northern Cyprus. He called the actions to be interference in their democracy.
Erdogan wants his confidant Ersin Tatar to win so that the Turks can maintain their strongarm in the northern territories as Turkey still stations around 35,000 troops there. Akinci has publicly spoken against the reopening of Varosha.
He had earlier warned that, if the peace process did not pick pace then the northern territories are in a threat of being annexed by Turkey. And the latest action by Turkey empowers the claim.
The internationally recognized southern Cyprus and Greece have been at the forefront of calling out Erdogan’s spade and furthering the cause for sanctions against Turkey. Now by the looks of it, all the major powers are angry at Turkey and want to teach the irresponsible and disruptive Erdogan a lesson. The sanctions are coming and they will hit the Turkish economy to the levels which it has not imagined.
The European Union will now surely sanction Turkey and NATO may as well take very stringent actions against Turkey. All this coupled with bilateral sanctions from Europe, Gulf, Middle East, Russia, the USA among others will wreck devastations onto Turkey. The good people of Turkey will have to learn the hard way about what happens when you romanticize with a leader who has theocratic ambitions.