By Chris Elliott….
As a publisher of news in Northern Cyprus, I read with great interest the Sunday Express article “Britain urged to use Brexit freedoms to recognise North Cyprus as a sovereign country” which led with the opening “Speaking exclusively to the Sunday Express, the President of Turkish North Cyprus Ersin Tatar has urged Boris Johnson’s government to get behind his plan for a two-state solution which he will propose at the talks. He believes that after Brexit freed Britain from the EU it can now fulfill its role as a neutral guarantor for the eastern Mediterranean island, ensuring that both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots are treated in a balanced way.”
When I first arrived in Northern Cyprus to work some 16 years ago a newfound friend said: “North Cyprus will become another Monte Carlo in the future and then you and I will not be able to afford to live here.”
Well neither happened and I am still living here as a retired British expat and it’s now time for the UK to accept its responsibility as both former Cyprus Crown Colony administrator from 1925 to 1960 and then as a Guarantor Power to the Zurich Cyprus Independence agreement which failed when Turkish Cypriot participation in the central government ceased on December 23, 1963, when all Cypriot Turks from the lowest civil servants to ministers, including the Turkish Vice-President Dr. Fazıl Küçük were forced out of the government and the Greek Cypriot dream of Enosis with Greece went ahead with the Akritas plan.
The Akritas plan when implemented had forced the Turkish Cypriots out of a shared government and was now extended by EOKA aided by Greece military forces which through sectarian killings and intimidation tried to rid the island of Turkish Cypriots.
The day before Turkey, as a guarantor power, mounted a military intervention to stop the ethnic cleansing and restore peace in Cyprus in July 1974, Greek Cypriot President, Makarios III stood before the UN Assembly and said my country has been invaded by Greece (the third guarantor power).
President Makarios III was then overthrown by the 1974 Cypriot coup d’état carried out by Greece, which was under Greek military junta rule.
UN peacekeepers had been deployed on the island in 1964, effectively recognising the Greek Cypriots as the government but clearly had not achieved their objective of maintaining peace and helping create a settlement of the Cyprus problem.
In the years ahead many UN inspired peace plans had been proposed only for the Greek Cypriots to reject them and the most notable was the Annan plan which was accepted by Turkish Cypriots only for the Greek Cypriots to slam the door on that peace plan with an OXI vote.
Since then we have seen continued efforts by the UN to get the communities to agree to a federation agreement only for this to be rejected time and time again by the Greek Cypriots who do not want to share power and give equal rights and respect to the Turkish Cypriots.
Enter the EU who granted Greek Cypriots who live in half of the island EU membership which gave it veto rights on any issue being considered that affects Northern Cyprus.
So back to the brilliant summary in the Express article. Yes, it is time for the UK to be great again and having left the European Union, which is run for the self-interest of a small number of members, to now stand up and as the former Father Country to recognise the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus which now deserves the abolition of embargoes to be allowed to join the world community.
Clearly, we shall hear lots of protests from the naysayers but then their intent is for no changes to be made to the status quo and for the cosy gravy train that benefits Greek Cypriots to continue forever.
Cyprus is an island and like the European region, which has developed over many years with separate self-autonomous countries, Cyprus North and South should now look forward to peace, cooperation and economic development for the benefit of all and not the selfish few and for the great United Kingdom to lead the way to a bright new future for this Jewel in the Mediterranean.