Britain has recently entered into a “strategic partnership” with Turkey, which turns a blind eye to Turkey’s continuing human rights violations and illegal occupation in Cyprus. Whilst successive British governments have historically appeased Turkey’s illegal occupation of Cyprus this new partnership goes a step further by rewarding its continuing human rights breaches. Whilst this is clearly unethical and illegal, it is also against Britain’s interests.
Britain has recently entered into a “strategic partnership” with Turkey, which turns a blind eye to Turkey’s continuing human rights violations and illegal occupation in Cyprus
• 37 percent of Republic of Cyprus is currently under Turkish occupation.
• 200,000 Greek Cypriots have been forcibly expelled from the occupied northern territories where they constituted approximately 70 percent of the population.
• More than 1,000 missing persons, including hundreds of civilians are still missing. Photographic evidence shows many were captured by the Turkish military.
• Approx 500 Greek and Maronite Cypriots enclaved in villages in the occupied area are living under oppressive conditions.
• 43,000 Turkish occupation soldiers equipped with modern weaponry and supported by the Turkish air force and navy are illegally stationed in the occupied area.
• 162,000 colonists from Turkey have been illegally imported to colonise the occupied area and to alter the demographic composition of the island.
Whilst successive British governments have historically appeased Turkey’s illegal occupation of Cyprus this new partnership goes a step further by rewarding its continuing human rights breaches. Whilst this is clearly unethical and illegal, it is also against Britain’s interests.
It will be recalled that Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974 to bring about the strategic partition of the island. In doing so Turkey brought apartheid to Cyprus, violating a plethora of UN resolutions. The partnership however is completely silent on Turkey’s continuing illegal occupation of the north of Cyprus and as a reward for not invading Iraq to flush out the PKK, the government has promised to end the so called “isolation” of Turkish Cypriots.
Let us examine this so-called “isolation”. The Republic of Cyprus has done all within its power to support the Turkish Cypriots. Approximately 50,000 Turkish Cypriots possess Cypriot passports permitting them to travel and work anywhere within the EU. Turkish Cypriots work in the free areas of Cyprus and benefit from state health care, social welfare services, national insurance and the like. The only inhabitants of the occupied territories of north of the island who cannot claim these rights are the 162,000 illegal immigrants brought over from Anatolia by Turkey to ethnically alter the demographic composition of the island.
However the UK government has now elevated Turkey to a far greater geo-strategic importance than Britain itself in the region. British interests are served by a united Cyprus and not by a divided one. The official government line is to promote unification. It does not recognize the illegal regime in the north of the island. But Turkey, by establishing its hold on the occupied areas of Cyprus through this agreement, has consolidated its hold on the north and become a regional power to be reckoned with, whereas Britain has shrunk into a secondary role as a micro-manager of regional crises.
Britain does not wish to see Turkey in northern Iraq pursuing PKK guerrillas but this is not only because of concerns about a wider conflagration in the Middle East. There is a very real fear that the Turkish army, once in Iraq, will refuse to withdraw, as it would seek to politically re-organise the region on its own terms and stop the Kurds from achieving statehood by exploiting the oil resources of Kirkuk and Mosul.
Can Turkey be trusted? We think not given its past record on Cyprus. The fact of the matter is that Turkey may well enter northern Iraq anyway in pursuit of its political objectives and ignore this partnership.
Appeasement of neighbourhood bullies rarely works. The more you give into bullies like Turkey the more they will believe that they can act above the law. In short, this government’s policy to prefer a partnership with Turkey, rather than supporting its law abiding and fellow EU member state, Cyprus, renders this government’s foreign policy morally, ethically and politically corrupt.