November 7, 1997
Letters to the Editor
To the Editor:
It is not the "obduracy" of both Greece and Turkey that is driving the Greco-Turkish dispute, as your November 1st leader suggests, but rather Turkey’s international aggression and its ratification by Ankara’s Western benefactors. Attempting to defuse "the Cyprus timebomb" in the wrong manner, by undermining the legitimacy of Greece and Cyprus’ own borders while ratifying Turkey’s militant expansionism, could eventually trigger a far larger conflagration involving the Balkans, Russia, the Mideast and the US.
Given Turkey’s long record of disregarding humanitarian and international law, and a clear pattern during the past three decades of expansionism in the Mediterranean and Aegean, a less naïve assessment would recognize that the Imia dispute is not one about "rocky outcrops in the Aegean" but of two larger issues. The first is Ankara’s challenge to the entire established territorial order of the Aegean. The second is the West’s reaction to it. Judging from your leader’s assertions it seems that Turkey has succeeded on both counts.
Asking the Greek Government to compromise on established boundaries and territorial rights in the Aegean in order to rectify the occupation of Cypriot territory is not only incongruous but reinforces a dangerous and destabilizing precedent which rewards aggression. It is Turkey’s brazen transgressions of international law in Cyprus that have set the tone for the disregard of international law by other nations. When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, he specifically cited to the West’s abject failure to enforce international law in Cyprus to justify his own aggression. When the Serbs defended themselves against accusations of ethnic cleansing, they readily invoked Kissinger’s and the State Department’s complicity in the ethnic cleansing of Greek Cypriots by Turkey.
When Ankara refuses to honor its neighbor’s maritime territorial rights in the Aegean--rights universally recognized under the UN’s Law of the Sea treaty and which Turkey itself claims in the Mediterranean and Black Sea--the Greek Government is accused of "bickering". When the Turks continue to openly threaten invasion in support of genuinely meritless claims on Greek islands such as Gavdos and Imia, Athens is blamed for being "obdurate". When Turkey invades, ethnically cleanses and then occupies Cyprus--maintaining overwhelming military and air superiority over the meager Cypriot defense forces--and then threatens to launch military strikes in response to Cyprus’ planned installation of the purely defensive S-300 anti-aircraft missile system, the Cypriots are accused of being intransigent.
There is a clear pattern to be discerned here. The more Turkey’s threats and transgressions are overlooked and facilitated by the West, the more frequent and audacious they become. The larger peril to the region stems not from an obstinate Greece or the EU’s recognition of "[only] the Greek part" of Cyprus, but from an increasingly armed and militant Turkey, Islamic or otherwise. It is the failure of the US and Europe to recognize this and unequivocally stand on the side of international law and non-aggression that has allowed these wounds to fester into larger problems with potentially far reaching consequences.
Very truly yours,
P. D. Spyropoulos, Esq.