The Cyprus issue is not independent of the Syrian issue. But while the imperialist intervention that has dragged Syria and Iraq into civil war and divided both still continues, the Cyprus talks have accelerated.
After Syria was partitioned and its north was left to the PKK-PYD, and after a corridor was opened to the Mediterranean, the strategic significance of Cyprus’ Karpasia Peninsula multiplied from Ankara’s perspective.
At a time when the EU doors have been firmly closed to Turkey and when Syria is about to be partitioned, the situation of the (self-delcared, recognized only by Turkey) "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC)" is of strategic importance. In such a process, it would not be wise to say “yes” to a model in which the Turkish Cypriots give away the Karpasia Peninsula. If it did so, Turkey would never be able to protect its rights or its future in the East Mediterranean.
Those who have difficulty understanding the connection between the Syria issue and the Cyprus issue should look at the map. The importance lies in the locations of the ports of Iskenderun, Mersin and Hatay province in southern Turkey, as well as the Mediterranean slice of the PKK-PYD corridor potentially being established in Syria. This key area is the location of natural gas fields around Cyprus, a central energy and commercial route in the East Mediterranean.
Giving up northern Cyprus would mean handing the Karpasia Peninsula to Cypriot sovereignty, making Turkey ineffective in the East Mediterranean and jeopardizing its national security.
Turkish Bars Association head Metin Feyzioğlu recently expressed his evaluation of the matter at a round table conference on Cyprus.
“The Cyprus issue is not independent of the proxy wars being conducted in Syria and Iraq, from the state that wants to be formed by the PYD to the oil/energy corridor and the natural gas resources in the East Mediterranean,” Feyzioğlu said.
“We have to be careful about the insistence of the Cypriot side on their demands for the Karpasia Peninsula based on the fact that there are a couple of churches there. Cyprus and the Karpasia Peninsula are of indispensable importance to Turkey’s national interests in the East Mediterranean, and in terms of its security more broadly.
During the ongoing negotiations, the Turkish Cypriot minority community has been told that the natural gas fields to the south of Cyprus will make Cyprus rich, and if it does not consent to unification it will not receive its share of this wealth. Turkish Cypriots are told that to receive their share and be accepted, they have to give up Turkey’s guarantor security agreements and accept minority status on the island.
Feyzioğlu also highlighted this.
“Such proposals are far from acceptable, considering what has happened since the 1960s and the prices paid. What’s more, there are also scientific evaluations based on the Mediterranean continental shelf which show that the natural gas fields south of Cyprus are only being used as a carrot dangled to the Turkish Cypriot minority. The main natural gas fields are between the Karpasia Peninsula and the İskenderun Gulf. In other words, the reason why the Greeks are demanding Karpasia is not military or security-based,” he said.
So yes we need to be careful about Greece and Cyprus trying to dominate northern Cyprus through the EU. The Cyprus issue is not only an EU issue, and the final word should not be said just in terms of ramifications for the EU.
Note: the article has been edited to remove Turkish state propaganda.