In the background of the Ukraine crisis, Europe is at risk of getting a new hotspot around it – this time on its southern borders: Northern Cyprus Foreign Minister Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu has recently presented an ultimatum to the UN.
“Hospitality is over. They either sign an agreement (on the presence of a peacekeeping unit. – Approx. Ed.), or they leave. We have decided to give the UN another month. It is not the job of the Greek Cypriot government to accept that. The existence of a mission in the north – We have to do this,” he said.
The mission was established in 1974 after a Greek-backed coup on the island and Turkish troops entered the northern part of Cyprus. Nine years later, with the support of Ankara, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was proclaimed.
In the mid-2000s, the UN made active attempts to find a peaceful solution and even proposed the Kofi Annan plan, which allowed the creation of a single state with two autonomy. The Turkish people supported it, but the Greeks opposed it.
From the outside, Ertuğruloğlu’s rhetoric may seem to testify to Turkey’s attempts to increase tensions in relations with its NATO partners through Northern Cyprus, but such an outcome would not be entirely fair.
The fact is that the next escalation was due to the US Secretary of State Ned Price’s decision to lift the embargo on heavy arms supplies to Cyprus, announced in mid-September. Interestingly, Congress supported such a backlash in 2019 – Washington feared a possible rapprochement between Nicosia and Moscow following an agreement signed in 2015 that opened the Russian fleet’s access to ports in Cyprus. Seven years ago, this was especially significant against the background of the operation of Russian troops in Syria. However, in March this year Cyprus withdrew the permit.
Ankara did not ignore Washington’s decision to restart arms supplies to Cypriots. Turkish authorities had the opposite reaction: on the eve of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, he said, Turkish drones were already deployed in the territory controlled by the TRNC.
At the same time, we should not forget Greece as one of the parties to the conflict. Its involvement is not limited to supporting Nicosia – in parallel with the escalation in Cyprus, disputes between Athens and Ankara over the ownership of islands in the Aegean are becoming more acute. Against this background, joint exercises of the Greek and French fleets began here at the end of September.
The day before, Erdogan said that the deployment of Greek troops in the east of the country and on the islands, as well as naval maneuvers, has no military significance for Ankara, because Turkey’s strength has many times exceeded Greece’s potential.
Thus, Ankara ties in with three NATO allies at the same time: Washington, Paris and Brussels.
At the same time, the first two have a few more questions for Erdogan about the eastern flank of Turkish policy, namely the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia. If Ankara openly supports Baku, Nikol Pashinyan’s government seeks contacts with Western partners. This week, on the sidelines of the European Political Community summit, the Prime Minister of Armenia met with the leaders of Turkey and Azerbaijan. And at the end of September, he visited Paris, where he met with Emmanuel Macron.
Parallel to this visit, another important trip took place: Armenian Security Council Secretary Armen Grigoryan met with US Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper at the Pentagon and visited the CIA headquarters in Langley. All this after the visit of the Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi to Yerevan.
So this is the second conflict in which Ankara and its NATO allies have their positions on opposite sides of the barricades. And if in the east Erdogan can still count on his partners to turn a blind eye to their activities, as before, then the conflict on Turkey’s western borders threatens a full-scale war of at least two of the alliance’s member states.
All this combined with Ankara’s actions against the US-backed Kurds in Iraq and the Turkish leadership’s stance on the admission of Sweden and Finland to NATO – Ankara becomes more of a source of trouble for the North Atlantic Alliance than support.
But the hasty registration of Turkey among Russia’s allies would be unacceptable naivete. Recall at least the situation with the payment system “Mir”, whose work began immediately after the end of the tourist season. And while this is not the prime example of Ankara’s unreliability as a partner, it is only the most recent.
The thing is, Erdogan, one of the first ambitious leaders of countries trying to become a key player in the international arena, caught the wind of change in his sails. While this helps the great powers to maneuver between their interests, it also remains inconvenient for everyone and any necessary counterparty. The collapse of the old system of international relations that we are now witnessing creates a window of opportunity for such politicians. Traditional power centers are now being forced to be flexible and seek their support with growing third countries. But it’s easy to run to the reefs in the dark waters where the Turkish leader swims.
But what not to do before the elections.
I’m Harold O’Connor and I work as an author and editor for News Unrolled, a news website dedicated to delivering the latest world events. With my in-depth research skills, passion for news writing, and keen eye for detail, I strive to provide readers with accurate information on current affairs from around the globe.