“Cyprus must evolve into a bizonal, bicommunal federation with full sovereignty as a member of the EU and the UN. The geopolitical interests of a third country cannot be a criterion for a solution to the Cyprus issue,” Greece’s Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said in an interview published in the newspaper “Real News” on Sunday.
“Anyone who has a different opinion — and of course they have a right to that — has to tell us how they define ‘the Cyprus problem,” Kotzias added, “…do they perhaps want a solution of ‘a little sovereignty and a little occupation’? In any case, it will be more useful for them to state their opinion outright, rather than committing hubris, as they have been doing so far.”
“Turkey has to realise that, in the modern world, a third country cannot control an EU member state,” the foreign minister said. “The EU cannot accept rights of intervention or, therefore, guarantees on its territory. There are already expert legal opinions on this. But what’s more, no one in the modern world can accept something like this for a member state of the UN. Let those who are railing against our policy explain to us, at long last, why they have another opinion and what they base it on,” he noted.
Kotzias described Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as “an intelligent, experienced, important leader” of Turkey, who knows that problems are resolved through compromises. “Creative compromises, not shoddy ones. It is up to him to make his choices regarding the Cyprus issue, and he will be judged just as we are all judged. How we are judged, of course, has to concern facts and not metaphysical questions,” the minister said.
He also noted, in response to questions, that there were forces who believed it would be easy to convince Greece to back down. These forces now appeared to be “very irritated,” he added, and they had passed their irritation on “to a number of mouthpieces who specialize in slander.”
“You see, they discovered that our fundamental national interests, Cyprus, the European acquis and international law cannot be a field of policy without principles. We are compromising and will compromise for there to be a solution, and we need to do that. But we will not back down on the solution of the core of the problem,” he said.
If there was no solution, this would not be Greece’s fault, Kotzias said, adding that the Greek side “will not become the agents of shoddy ‘solutions’.”
Asked about the Greece-Turkey-Cyprus Friendship Agreement, Kotzias said Greece has proposed this instead of the treaties of guarantees “based on the global historical experience that we studied carefully.” Through this agreement, he explained, “the three countries will cooperate against common current threats, including ecological threats, terrorism and organized crime. There will be a joint mechanism for cooperation and promotion of a positive agenda. What will be ruled out is the right of a country to intervene against or internally in another country. “Some international players want to take the idea of this Agreement and “utilize” it against its spirit, as a new treaty of guarantees. We will not let this happen,” he warned.
In this context, he referred to the “Temporary Stationing Agreement” of the Foreign armed forces on the island proposed by Greece, explaining that this was something similar to (though not exactly the same as) what was agreed between Germany under unification and the Soviet Union. “This agreement determined the legal status of the withdrawal of the Soviet military forces and the manner in which the flow of their withdrawal was to be monitored. For the same period of time, the same will hold for the Greek army as well,” he said, while noting that the Hellenic Force in Cyprus (ELDYK) was legal on the island, while the many-times-larger occupation army was illegal.
Questioned about the prospects of a ‘Taiwan-ization’ or even annexation of occupied Cyprus, Kotzias pointed out that Greece and Turkey have agreed that the Cyprus issue is not linked to their bilateral relations, either during the negotiation or due to any result of the negotiation. “Regarding the scaremongering, I note that it is being used in an attempt to subdue the will of the Cypriot people,” he added.
“The other side’s problem is that the hydrocarbons aren’t located on the north side of Cyprus, but on the south. That international law supports the positions of the Republic of Cyprus,” he pointed out. Kotzias said he was hoping and working for precisely this, for a solution to the Cyprus issue so that, as a result, such problems and threats do not arise.
Relations between Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades were “comradely and patriotic,” the minister said. He predicted that the new U.S. administration under Donald Trump will make two major shifts: first, it will strengthen the geoeconomic aspect of U.S. foreign policy and, by extension, strengthen it against “pure” geopolitics; second, it will attempt a reversal of the policy of Nixon, 45 years ago. At that time, the U.S. endeavoured to drive a wedge between the People’s Republic of China and the Soviet Union, and to collaborate with the former against the latter. Now they will attempt a change to the triangle, Kotzias said. The “opposing peak” would be China, and probably Russia with the U.S. he added.
Kotzias also noted that many in Washington see the EU “as being on a course of weakness and identity crisis” and wonder where the EU is going and exactly what it wants. “I believe that it would be a mistake for the EU not to identify and analyse the real problems. Questions to which Trump tried to provide his own answers,” Kotzias said, noting that Europe was having “a crisis of crisis management” and lacked “a vision for the 21st century.”