Turkey Destroys Status Quo of the Cyprus Settlement

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Judging by the behavior of Ankara in its historical “Ottoman” region, the Turkish elites feel themselves like an influential power; therefore, they try to act without regard to the reaction of the West and project power in various geographies, including Cyprus, Karabakh, Moldova and many others.
Last week that marked the 47th anniversary of the Turkish troops landing in Cyprus, Turkish President Recep Erdogan paid an official visit to the part of the island where the so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) lies. It is self-proclaimed and recognized exclusively by Ankara. During the trip, the Turkish leader made some lofty rhetoric related to the status of the territory, as well as several seaside quarters of Famagusta, which used to be the largest tourist center and closed to the public after the hot phase of the conflict on the island. According to the information calibration on the eve of the Turkish leader’s “landing” on the island, it was clear that Ankara began to prepare the ground for new approaches towards the TRNC and the gradual “warm up” of the situation in divided Cyprus that had been frozen for more than fifty years. The world community reacted quite sharply to such a challenge from the outside, seeing in it all signs of an intention to upset the balance on the island. The governments of Greece, the EU, the United States and Great Britain spoke out with particular indignation and condemnation of Turkey's behavior. “We condemn the decision to have the Turkish Cypriots take partial control of Varosha (a quarter in Famagusta), which is contrary to UN resolutions, unacceptable and incompatible with past commitments to resume settlement negotiations,” the US United States Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said. However, the Turkish Foreign Ministry rejected all demands for a revision of its position, including from the UN Security Council, citing the fact that they are based on groundless statements and do not correspond to the realities prevailing on the island. In addition, during his trip to Cyprus, the Turkish president quite categorically stated that Ankara would not back down from the idea of shaping two states on the island. Stating that the negotiations on the conflict settlement had reached an impasse, Erdogan promised full support to the TRNC in solving the historical issue based on creation of a separate state and stressed that from now on the only requirement of the Turkish Cypriots in international negotiations would be the issue of recognizing its status as a sovereign country. The experts have paid particular attention to the visit of a parliamentary delegation from Baku to Northern Cyprus, arranged on the eve of the Turkish President’s arrival. The Turkish and Azerbaijani media ranked it as the “first official visit”. Afterwards, the experts began to voice assumptions about the imminent recognition of the TRNC by Azerbaijan, which won the last year's Karabakh war, primarily thanks to its Turkish strategic ally. Talking to journalists, Recep Erdogan only intensified this intrigue, since in response to a question about recognition from Baku, he said that there is no doubt about this issue, since such a prospect is constantly discussed with Ilham Aliyev. Despite the fact that the general trend is quite clearly visible, establishing diplomatic relations between Azerbaijan and the TRNC is still far from reality. The simple reason is that such an odious step by the Azerbaijani leadership can radically change relations not only with Cyprus and the European Union, but also with the West in general, and Ankara will have first to compensate for the price that Baku will have to pay. Along with this, any actions towards the sovereignty of Northern Cyprus may mirror the Karabakh issue, which, even after a significant transformation following last year's events, is hardly close to its outcome. Nevertheless, Ankara’s behavior in its traditional regional space shows that the Turkish elites feel themselves like an influential power; therefore, they try to act without regard to the reaction of the West and project power in various geographies, including Cyprus. Erdogan and Aliyev quite convincingly demonstrated on the example of Karabakh that currently it is possible to act taking into account only own interests, while multilateral negotiation formats, which have frozen regional conflicts for decades, are giving way to decisive steps by strong-willed politicians. Thus, despite the harsh Western reaction and the complex task set, Ankara, apparently, set out to convince the international community to abandon the idea of ​​reintegrating the Greek and Turkish parts of the island into a common state, and the visit to Cyprus is actually a brief outline of the main principles in the new settlement plan. Ankara’s systematic pressure, in fact, proposes to review the unsuccessful experience of pushing for “Kosovo’s singularity” and to revise the international framework of the Cyprus settlement. Obviously, the chances of the Greek Cypriots to reverse the current unfavorable situation are not so high and, perhaps, the only last hope is the firm international position, which is still able to pacify in any way Ankara's appetites. At the same time, realizing the hard situation of the Greeks, Erdogan has already recalled the possibility of Cyprus joining NATO with Turkey's permission, which can be considered as a willingness to start discussing, among other things, “compensation” mechanisms for official Nicosia. We have to admit that the situation with TRNC is not an end in itself, but only one of the elements of the geopolitical concept, which has been consistently implemented by Ankara for quite a long time. The interests of the so-called neo-Ottomanism radiate far beyond its traditional area, and Turkey's “basing” strategy encompasses the Middle East, Caucasus, Central Asia, North Africa and, broadly, the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions. Previously, we have already described the risks that may be generated due to the geopolitical projections of Ankara on the Moldovan territory and, first of all, on Gagauzia. Therefore, the main challenge that must be properly taken into account by Chisinau is Turkey's non-trivial approaches to its fraternal communities, which can gradually change the already fragile balance in relations between the center and Comrat.