During the two-day NATO Summit in Madrid (29-30/6), Turkey’s agreement with Sweden and Finland was “locked in”, with political commitments on both sides for their relations as future allies within NATO. Sweden and Finland were given the go-ahead to join the Alliance quickly, under dire need to shield themselves from Putin’s aggression. In return they set the framework to jointly address with Turkey all the issues that the final table urgently raised. A tripartite memorandum includes, among other things, the action of organizations (PKK/FETO), the arms embargo, and Turkey’s participation in the EU’s permanent security mechanism, PESCO.
This development, as well as the time when Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan chose to regulate the issue, shows that Turkish diplomacy worked methodically and carefully. Of course, this success was not only based on persistent manipulations, but also reflects the geostrategic weight that Turkey acquired after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
This is a new reality for Greece and Cyprus. The actions of Turkish diplomacy may be characterized, as Greek Prime Minister K. Mitsotakis said (29/6), “opportunistic and utilitarian behaviors”, but US President Joe Biden did not see them as such. That is why he met with the Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the NATO Summit, publicly influenced him that the problem in NATO was overcome and alongside the registrations personally for the Ukrainian and the initiatives he undertakes to open corridors for exports: “it is a grace. to your leadership, thank you and I truly mean it,” said the US President, allowing Erdogan the rest of his time in front of the cameras to develop Turkey’s role.
There is no doubt that correlations are changing in the West and Turkey’s position is being upgraded. The shifts that will count in the international arena, putting new elements in the outcome of “national” issues, such as the other Cyprus issue and the complications in e/t relations. The governments in Greece and Cyprus cannot pretend that nothing is changing, creating a virtual reality around them. Without real influence and suggestions all they do is repeat their complaints and stay on the sidelines.
But in Madrid, the US government’s support for Turkey became clearer for obvious geostrategic reasons. That is why the Turkish F-16 modernization program will go ahead and the S-400 disputes will be set aside. Everything points to Turkey becoming an integral part of NATO’s security enhancement against the Russian threat, and this will also affect the EU’s position vis-à-vis it.
All this time, Turkey remained committed to the exercise of “heavy” diplomacy in order to gain the exercise and strengthen its position. At the same time, only Greece and Cyprus are protesting! This shows their inability to get to the bottom of the facts. What will be the end result? Let the chronic problems, especially the Cyprus problem, remain in the drawer of history.
The two governments feel they have more need for… communication than substantive diplomacy. The Mitsotakis government – which is probably thinking of early elections in September – has tried to downgrade the items for the F-16s, which made headlines in the Greek media when the US prime minister visited and addressed Congress. Now, he has to do the reverse to convince and therefore not the intention to buy F-35 after… 2027.
Anastasiades – Erdogan
More tragic was the presence of the President of Cyprus N. Anastasiadis in Madrid, who during this time is trying to create the image – mainly for the internal public opinion – that “something is moving” in Cyprus. The Cypriot media – assisted by the Greek media as well – showed a meeting on the leg between various NATO-EU leaders (Macron, Johnson and others with Erdogan) turning into… a conversation about the Cyprus issue, because the Cypriot President interfered.
The Presidential information mechanism channeled as the first news what was “allegedly” exchanged between Erdogan and Anastasiades in a few seconds. Everyone knows that such contacts are just for smiles and photos. The most “researched” know what Erdogan thinks when he hears N. Anastasiades expressing readiness for talks, that’s why he answered him to find his “counterpart”, T/K leader Ersin Tatar. The Presidential announcements about the Anastasiades-Erdogan “conversation”, or other meetings with leaders on the sidelines of the Madrid summit, are nothing more than communication gimmicks. None of his interlocutors issued a statement because everyone knows that such conversations are held for obscenity.
At absolute zero!
Do such exaggerations count? They only count for one night on the channels’ main newscasts to become the front story (“Anastasiadis spoke with Erdogan”) and lower the Biden-Erdogan meeting. The next day, however, the same unanswered questions come in again. Where does the Cypriot stand today? At absolute zero!
President N. Anastasiades claims that he wants to put the solution of the Cyprus issue back in front, while his term ends in 7 months, leaving behind a broken negotiating landscape. Why is he looking for a photo with Erdogan if Turkey is a revisionist power and is preparing to occupy islands? What is the meaning of the confidence-building measures presented by Anastasiades, when there is no common basis for negotiating the essence of the Cyprus issue? Will something change in the minds of the current nationalist leadership under Ersin Tatar?
The situation with the Cyprus issue today is more confused and uncertain because the two governments are acting with their domestic audience in mind, despite the real challenges they face. The basic elements for a composed exterior are absent. The central question is the handling of Turkey, a strengthened large country in the new geopolitical environment that is being created in Europe. There is no answer, only generalizations. N. Anastasiadis and K. Mitsotakis have trapped public opinion in verbalisms and fears without having anything to propose.
As Cyprus gets deeper into the election campaign, the landscape becomes even murkier. The main candidates for the presidency supported by the traditional 3 – Averof Neophytou from DISY, Andreas Mavroyiannis from AKEL and Nikos Christodoulidis from DIKO and other smaller parties – have not given any indication that they think otherwise. Nikos Anastasiadis. The policy established by the outgoing President, populism and inconsistencies in foreign policy had only one result: zero dialogue for 5 years, no engagement from the UN and the EU. With today’s conditions, 2023 will become a milestone for Cyprus , but not to change course. But for the involvement in public opinion that nothing can be done but wait for the partition.
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