Double standards dangerous | eKathimerini.com

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) meets with Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides (right) at the State Department in Washington on February 1. [Pool via Reuters]

Advocating Justice for Cyprus in Washington, DC requires levels of commitment and endurance that most people do not appreciate. Listen administration after administration to declare loud and clear commitments to human rights and international law while reducing those commitments in whispers with regard to Cyprus is infuriating. Trying to decipher why the US State Department uses the word “occupation” in the world while avoiding the carefully when speaking of Cyprus makes us feel for researchers trying to understand the hieroglyphics before the discovery of the stone Rosette. Tragically, we often feel that officials of the State Department and National Security tell us (and the Republic of Cyprus) as if they were engaged in their own version of the Melian dialogue “The strong do what they want, the weak suffer what they have. “

This frustration reached a new level this month. On February 1, Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. They discussed bilateral relations, regional cooperation (including fixing the mess caused by the notorious “non-paper” EastMed), and new confidence-building measures in Cyprus. The day before, US Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield Linda urged the Russians at the United Nations Security Council with this statement: “Imagine how uncomfortable you would be if you had 100,000 troops sitting on your border. »

Madam Ambassador, the Greeks can do better than “imagine”. Cyprus is occupied by 40,000 Turkish troops and we do not remember your admonitions to the Security Council regarding these troops even as the Republic of Cyprus points out their movements in the buffer zone of occupied Cyprus, movements which threaten the precarious stability on the island. In the Aegean, Turkey maintains an invasion force within a few miles of inhabited Greek islands, regularly violates Greek airspace (with US jets to boot), and has pre-declared war in case Greece exercises its powers. rights under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Given your proclamations on Ukraine, the United States’ response to the formal challenge to Greece’s sovereignty by the Turkish Ambassador at the United Nations (“the sovereignty of the Greek islands is not in question”) should have included a critique of Turkey’s posture of force and warmongering vis-à-vis Greece.

President Joe Biden has said the current crisis “is not just about Russia and Ukraine.” Likewise, Turkey’s belligerence in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean goes beyond Greek-Turkish relations. Ankara undermines international law as well as Eastern Mediterranean cooperation and integration. The only NATO member currently facing an active threat of war is Greece, and that threat comes from a NATO “ally” – Turkey. Despite all the hesitation about the consequences for NATO if Russia invades Ukraine, there is too little concern about the ease with which the Alliance could be destroyed from within because of Turkey’s aggression against the Greece.

If no one in the administration considers what Russia thinks of Turkey’s passes on invasion, occupation and the threat of war, then the president’s national security team isn’t doing their job. . In a 2014 New Republic article, David Klion argued that the best historical analogy for Russia’s invasion of Crimea was not Hitler’s “incursions into Czechoslovakia and Poland, ostensibly to liberate German speakers of these countries,” but Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus in 1974. Klion conceded that “even that analogy may be too harsh for Putin.” The State Department may claim that its failure to hold Turkey accountable for more than 47 years of occupation of Cyprus has nothing to do with Russian behavior, but in fact, it is just pretending.

Russia would surely like nothing better if the world tolerated the status quo in Donbass and Crimea as it deepens its colonization of these regions. That’s why Moscow must be smiling at the tweets from the US Ambassador to the Republic of Cyprus declaring how “happy” she was that she and Deputy Under Secretary of State Erika Olson had met the hardliner and nationalist Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar, who continually mocks his nose at general US policy on the reunification of Cyprus and has blatantly violated US warnings on Varosha. The Russians must have made jokes about a future US ambassador to Ukraine visiting the ‘leader’ of the Donbass region with a deputy undersecretary of state and having a ‘good discussion and an important and positive exchange of views’.

During his visit to Cyprus in 2014, Vice President Biden said: “The United States – I want to be clear about this – recognize only one legitimate government of the Republic of Cyprus, and my visit and my meetings throughout the island will change nothing. This is my personal position. It’s the US position of America, and that is the position of the world – except for one country. The actions of too many American ambassadors to Cyprus and officials of lower-level State Department has allowed Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership to doubt this statement.

Perhaps it is time for the Greek-American community, the advocacy organizations it is allied with, and the US Congress to doubt the administration’s claims that it is “clear-headed” on Turkey. The selection process for a new U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Cyprus will soon be underway, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected to ensure that the candidate understands that undermining the Republic of Cyprus is unacceptable. or encourage Turkish Cypriot intransigence. How the administration spends money on alleged bicommunal activities and the level of engagement of State Department officials with Turkish Cypriots who openly challenge U.S. policy should also come under congressional scrutiny.

It’s time for the United States to start treating the Mediterranean and the Eastern Aegean as more than a Greek-Turkish dispute. Continuing to be wrong only allows Russia in Ukraine and China in the South China Sea. Hopefully we can soon hear these words from Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield: “Imagine 40,000 soldiers occupying your country and keeping you from coming home for 47 years. »


Endy Zemenides is Executive Director at the Hellenic American Leadership Council.

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