Politics

The Byzantine Textbook and how it affects Northern Cyprus


By Roger L Jennings…….

After the Ottoman Turkish conquest of Constantinople in the year 1453 the Greeks employed the gambits of the Byzantines as their method of foreign policy.

Roger L Jennings

Recently President  Anastasiades employed one of those gambits by insisting that Turkey remove its troops from Cyprus before other issues like power sharing can be discussed.  The protection provided by Turkey is a non-negotiable requirement of the Turkish Cypriots.  The Turkish Cypriots remember the attempt in 1974 to force the Turkish Cypriots to leave the island and all the sporadic violence against Turkish Cypriots.

President  Anastasiades knows removing the Turkish Army is non-negotiable.  He is manufacturing a crisis.  When Presidents  Akinci and  Anastasiades met with the UN General Secretary in New York City recently the Greek Cypriot knew he would have to yield on the point, and agree to the meeting without precondition in Geneva.  Officials at the UN celebrated thinking they had achieved a great diplomatic victory.  This was not an achievement of the UN, but rather the plan of President Anastasiades.

The objective of Greeks and Greek Cypriots is to keep the talkers talking.  The meeting at the UN accomplished nothing.  The conversation and succession of gambits will simply move to Geneva or someplace else.  The hope of the Greek Cypriot political leaders is to wear down the Turkish Cypriot people with the embargo so that Turkish Cypriots emigrate.

Smyrna (Izmir) is devastated

Greek people are loving, family oriented people of faith.  They were good friends of their neighbour Turks in Turkey prior to the Greek Army landing in Turkey in 1919 and committing atrocities against innocent Turks.  Those atrocities are described, for example, in the Report of the Inter-Allied Commission of Inquiry that is posted on the internet click here.

The Greeks have been misled since the rise to power by Prime Minister Venizelos.  Venizelos was a revolutionary with unbridled ambition for power and grandeur.  Many thousands of Greeks, Turks and Armenians died as a result.  The Greek United Opposition Party defeated Venizelos in a landslide election and Venizelos left Greece.  He was then tried in absentia and given a death sentence by the Greeks.  However, subsequent Greek politicians overwhelmed by their own greatness have continued with the Megali Idea foreign policy that has been the greatest cause of grief and hardship for the Greek people.  Enosis is the Greek Cypriot expression of the Megali Idea.

President  Anastasiades cannot let the talks end abruptly.  In fact, he does not want the talks to even end.  An abrupt end to the negotiations would put the Greeks at great risk that Turkey would take unilateral action.  For example, Turkey could notify the drilling companies that gas will be delivered to the TRNC for partial distribution as the Turks see fit to south Cyprus.  The option presented to the drilling companies will be they will be replaced by drilling companies chosen by Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots.  No country in the world will go to war to defend the Greek Cypriot claim to the Aphrodite gas field.

The negotiations have gone on too long.  The Byzantine Textbook gambit is to create the illusion that nirvana is just over that next hill.   Go to that one more meeting, or reach consensus on this one issue, and an agreement will be reached.  The Turkish Cypriots have traveled over many hills to meetings in Geneva and elsewhere, but the result has been the same.

A major problem is President Akinci is fully invested in the idea there will be an agreement.  His voice has been more controlling than those of other government leaders in the TRNC and Turkey and other political parties in the TRNC.  Seasoned negotiators know when an agreement will not be reached and they must walk away from the negotiating table.

President Reagan reached that point with Mikhail Gorbachev during the Strategic Defense Initiative negotiations.  President Reagan abruptly stood up and walked out without saying goodbye or anything to the shock of Gorbachev.  The world thought the negotiations were a failure.  However, Reagan was an experienced negotiator after representing the actors’ union for years.  The Reagan gambit brought down the Soviet Union and was one of the greatest diplomatic feats of modern times.  Mr. Akinci should learn from that example.

President Akinci is a good and honorable person.  He is a person everyone should like and respect.  President  Anastasiades knows President  Akinci will not walk away from the negotiating table. President  Anastasiades is taking advantage of President Akinci’s good nature. However, President Akinci is under increasing pressure to walk away from the talks.  The Turkish Cypriot officials have said the next talks are the last.  Are they?  Turks are a very resolute people who never back down.  Their word should be accepted.  The challenge for President Anastasiades is to provide a reason to continue the talks.  The Byzantine method is to concede on a major point so the Turks have renewed hope.  At some future date, that concession will be taken back by the Greek Cypriots.  This will keep the talkers talking.

If President Akinci does not achieve a final agreement that the Greek and Turkish Cypriots can vote on, then President Akinci should resign the Office of the President.  He should turn the future of all Turkish Cypriots over to someone with a more realistic understanding of the Cypriot situation like the Prime Minister.  Mr. Akinci should return to the occupation of architecture where he was trained to perform.  The reality is the Greek Cypriot people will vote against any agreement achieved by President Akinci or anyone.  The Annan Plan and public polls in south Cyprus show there is not support among Greeks for equal rights for Turkish Cypriots.

The Turkish Cypriots really do not need an agreement with south Cyprus.  The TRNC can break the embargo any day it finds the initiative to act like a sovereign  country.   The problem the Turkish Cypriots have is lack of initiative.  Once the Turkish Cypriot Government musters initiative, it can focus on the “peace and prosperity” that Gazi M. Kemal Ataturk wanted for all Turks.

The TRNC Government can announce numbered investment accounts like Switzerland and other countries to receive the funds necessary to convert gas to fertilizer, synthetics, paint, cosmetics and many other products.  The funds can be invested in south Cyprus, Greece and other places in the world that have projects with an acceptable return on investment.  When the Greek and Turkish people work on shared objectives, peace and prosperity will reign and the politicians will be swept into the dustbin.  The Turkish Cypriots will become the best friends the Greek Cypriots ever had.

Editors note:

Roger Jennings has written many articles for cyprusscene about Turkey and how it developed after WW1 when his grandfather was working in Turkey and became a friend and confidant of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and Roger’s article “Silent Diplomacy in Turkey – Looking back at how it happened” gives so much information of this important milestone in Turkey’s modern history.

Roger has also written a number of articles about the ongoing attempts to resolve the Cyprus problem.

5 replies »

  1. The truth of the matter! Thanks for your perfect analysis of the situation in Cyprus Rodger. I loved reading your article and thank you for being the friend of Turkish Cypriots and we do need a lot more understanding friends like yourself. That’s for sure! let the Byzantine games continue to see who gives in first!!!

  2. Thank you Mr. Erdogan. There is an Australian whose family emigrated from the Izmir area in 1922. He is Dr. Con Aroney. He wrote the book Flames on the Water Tears in the Sea. Dr. Aroney said in his book that ethnic Greeks like his family and Turks were neighbors and got along. The event that turned relations sour was the landing of the Greek Army in 1919 at Smyrna. Surely there was a lot of violence all over Turkey, but that was because there was no civil police force in all the villages. The Ottomans had relied on the Greek Orthodox Church to supervise the minorities, but religious people do not serve as civil police. Prime Minister Venizelos ordered the Greek Army to invade Turkey. Venizelos was a revolutionary from Crete where the Turks were forced off the island so Crete could then become in 1913 part of Greece. The Greek people defeated Venizelos in the elections, and gave him a death sentence. Yet, today many Greeks think he was a great man. He caused a lot of suffering among Greeks, Turks and Armenians. The ignorance is astounding. If you go to vimeo.com and look at videos 83516431 and 83517902 recorded in the home of Greek Admiral “Dannys” Theofanides, you will be amused and shocked. Then also on vimeo watch the videos recorded outside the Grand Bazaar of the young lady I consider to be the poster child of Turkey, and see her admit to her ignorance. Those videos are 84427042 and 84427405. This is a black period in the histories of both Greece and Turkey. Unfortunately south Cyprus does not have the enlightened leadership to move beyond the darkness.

  3. Dear Mr Roger Jennings,

    How refreshing it is to have someone like you enlightening our Greek friends by telling them the TRUTH.

    They have been avoiding this all through the years and hopefully they will read your very valuable articles for their own good perhaps I could continue adding with good intentions. .

    Because of the Greeks’ history of hating and fighting who could be their best neighbour and friend but Turkey, all they have achieved in half a century is destruction for the Hellenic nation and even a reduction in their population.

    In my opinion and what I have lived through in my 83 years of age is that all this hate has been fed by the Cyprus Greek Orthodox Church since Makarios and Grivas started ENOSIS in 1951.

    With their EOKA organisation killing Greeks and Turks who did not like their idea of enforced Enosis which pushed most of the Cypriot Turkish population out of their homes by requisitioning or buying their land so they would emigrate out of Cyprus never to return.

    Now the Cypriot Turks are a far smaller number of people and with less land to negotiate fairly on equal terms unless the TRUTH is spoken of at long last.

    I would also like to thank Chris Elliott and Margaret Sheard of Cyprusscene.com for collaborating with you to publish your very valuable and factual articles for a worldwide audience who are rarely told the TRUTH of the CYPRUS ISSUE.
    Thank you,

    John Aziz Kent,
    Honorary President
    TRNC Hoteliers Association

  4. Dear Mr. Kent:
    Thank you for your kind comments.

    All the leaders of the TRNC have to do is to muster up some initiative to act like a sovereign country like they claim to be and walk away from the Greek politicians. The relationship should be with the Greek people and not the politicians.

    The TRNC politicians are totally focused on one result that has not been there for 50+ years. If the people of the TRNC would petition the politicians in the TRNC, maybe the politicians would address reality. Excessive time and resources have been wasted on this effort when the real objective should be increasing the income and standard of living of the people the TRNC leaders are responsible to serve.

    Roger Jennings

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