April 3, 1998
The Washington Post
To the Editor:
The Post’s April 1st Editorial, "The Cyprus Mess", overlooks the fact that the Cyprus tragedy is far more a result of short-sighted and self-interested engineering than of poor planning by the West. It should be noted that Greeks and Turks lived peacefully together in Cyprus until the 1950's. Their neighborly relationship was purposefully disrupted by Great Britain’s divide-and-rule policy to consolidate its own position as colonial ruler of the island. Greeks comprised eighty percent of the population in Cyprus and had sought to achieve self-determination by pursuing union with Greece. In response, the British imposed a policy of repression towards the Greeks while encouraging Turkish militants, and invited Turkey into negotiations over the future of Cyprus even though Ankara had already renounced all claims to Cyprus in 1923.
Once Britain succeeded in destroying relations between the two communities, the traditional Turkish attitude towards non-Turkic nations asserted itself. Turkey and radicalized Turkish Cypriots declared that "Cyprus is Turkish" despite the island’s Greek majority and its indisputably Hellenic past. The same exterminationist policies that Turkey effected against the Armenians and the Greeks of Asia minor, and which it pursues against the Kurds today, were applied in Cyprus following its two invasions of the island in 1974.
The West’s acquiescence to Turkey’s expansionist foreign policy, a course charted by Kissinger and maintained by our State Department, has now created an environment of lethal instability in one of the world’s most militarized regions, seriously compromising American, NATO and EU interests in the eastern Mediterranean and beyond. Saddam Hussein justified his invasion of Kuwait by explicitly citing to the West’s abject failure to enforce international law in Cyprus. The Serbs in turn readily invoked our government’s complicity in Turkey’s ethnic cleansing of Greek Cypriots as a defense.
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 wounds such as Cyprus to fester into larger ones with far reaching consequences. Problems with EU accession talks are simply one manifestation of a vicious cycle which feeds from the West’s continued acquiescence to Turkey’s brazen transgressions of international law in Cyprus, the Aegean, Turkish Kurdistan, Iraq and elsewhere. The key to unraveling the Cyprus impasse lies in this realization, and not in the continuation of our short-sighted policy of appeasement.
P. D. Spyropoulos, Esq.