From the GulfNews.Com:
"Cyprus's plans to launch oil and gas exploration in the east Mediterranean has triggered strong opposition from rival Turkish Cypriots, who say it could revive tension on the ethnically partitioned island."
"The internationally recognised Greek Cypriot government is to open tenders for offshore licensing agreements on February 15, the first of its kind. Turkish Cypriots, who run an unrecognised breakaway state in north Cyprus, say Greek Cypriots are claiming all the potential benefits for themselves."
"We are partners in everything that goes on in Cyprus and will not allow our interests to be harmed," Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat was quoted as telling the Cyprus Dialogue weekly newspaper."
Partners? I am sure that will be news to the Greek Cypriots refugees who were forcibly evicted from their homes in 1974 and whose properties are currently being sold to the highest bidder or have been given to thousands of Turkish settlers imported to the island. Not quite satisfied with altering the ethnic makeup of the island, the Pashas also decided to give forty percent of the island, including 65% of the arable land, 60% of its water resources, two thirds of its mineral wealth, 70% of its industries and four fifths of its tourist installations to the 18% of the Cypriot population that just happened to be Turks. Despite this the unoccupied part of Cyprus has gone on to outstrip the economically hobbled occupied north and now boasts one of the highest per capita incomes in the EU. How exactly did this happen? Perhaps it was because the engine responsible for economic growth, Greek Cypriots, were eliminated from the equation.
Now the Pashas want a part of the oil rights on Greek Cypriot territory created by de facto by their illegal invasion of Cyprus in 1974, adding the eastern Mediterranean as well the Aegean Sea to their rapidly expanding vision of a new Ottoman Empire that extends from the Aegean through the newly independent nations along the Russian periphery. How nice.
Behavior like this is to be expected of Turkish muscle flexing vis a vis its neighbors whether they happen to be Greeks, Armenians or Iraqi Kurds. What is galling to me as an American is my government's position or lack of it in the whole sordid affair as evidenced by the State Department spokesman's remarks to a reporter's questions:
QUESTION: Would you have some details on this role between Cyprus and Turkey on this oil dispute?
MR. MCCORMACK: Whether --
QUESTION: Do you know if -- first, can you confirm that there are some naval -- that Turkey increased its naval presence?
MR. MCCORMACK: Has moved some ships around?
MR. MCCORMACK: They could well have. I can't confirm that for you. You can talk to the
Turkish Government about their movement of naval assets.
The immediate issue involves oil drilling rights, oil exploration rights, and then it gets -- very
quickly gets into complicated legal issues concerning delimitation of the shelf that is around Cyprus and in the eastern Mediterranean. This stuff is extremely complex and lawyers and policymakers and politicians
have been -- have wrapped themselves around this for many, many years. There's no resolution to it, so they'll continue to work on that.
What we would urge is that the parties refrain from any actions that might be interpreted by the
other side; that there be full transparency so that you don't have any misunderstandings that might result in mishaps. And ultimately what needs to happen is the parties should get back to the root causes of
the dispute. And the pathway, we believe to that, is open via the UN. Under Secretary General Gambari has made some proposals in this regard and we would urge the parties to look at those seriously.
QUESTION: Did you get in touch with Turkey?
MR. MCCORMACK: Not that I'm aware of. I don't think -- I'm not aware that we've had any contact with them on it.
Turkey threatens an EU country by rattling sabers and making unreasonable demands on territory they have absolutely no claim to and the US State Department can only say that it is an "extremely complicated legal matter. " The stones cry out. This whole episode epitomizes what is wrong with American foreign policy in the region, countenancing the type of behavior from a so-called strategic ally that goes against the very principles we supposedly stand for and live by. Realpolitik is a critical part of any country's foreign policy. Sometimes a superpower like the US has to look the other way and deal with unsavory regimes. That said, there are times when we need to stand up to countries like Turkey and uphold the principles that count rather than short-term gains. For the sake of everyone in the region but also for the sake of the Turkish people and American interests, this administration and its State Department need to stand up to rogue "allies" whose governments threaten peace through brinkmanship and are a source of regional instability. Sometimes it is hard to differentiate our so-called friends from our enemies.
Call, email or write you elected representatives in the US Congress and tell them to stop coddling Turkey.