Turkey’s projection of military might in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea and its months-long provocations against the sovereign rights of Greece and the Republic of Cyprus led both to the restart of exploratory talks between Athens and Ankara and to the “five-plus-United Nations” meeting between the leaders of the two Cypriot communities and the guarantor powers – Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom – at the level of foreign ministers.
That’s what Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu essentially claimed Monday and, in a sense, he is not totally wrong. Both Ankara and Nicosia would prefer, at this juncture, to deal with other, especially pressing and crucial, issues, except this is by definition impossible.
The exploratory Greek-Turkish talks will simply give our European partners the opportunity to upgrade European Union relations with Ankara, combined with some consequential “warnings.” The crucial issues between Greece and Turkey are not to be tackled presently, and, as far as Turkey is concerned, they are probably not urgent.
At this point, Nicosia is the “weak link.” Because there comes a time when a problem that has seemed intractable for over half a century becomes an emergency when regional stability is at stake. Because only the great powers retain the right to disrupt the established order, even if this very often leads to chaos.
Contrary to its past positions, Ankara will insist on a solution to the division of Cyprus on the basis of a loose confederation of two independent states and not a federation, as the United Nations decision provides for. But such a dramatic change in the negotiations can happen only if the two directly concerned parties, the Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots, agree.
Of course, there won’t be an immediate result. The question is to what extent the Western powers that are involved in the process, directly or indirectly, will mobilize to convince Nicosia and, secondarily, Athens to close an outstanding issue as soon as possible. The research to tap into energy reserves has created a disruptive dynamic in Cyprus’ neighborhood.