‘People in Cyprus are weary’

Following her analysis of the tension in the Eastern Mediterranean, Chloé Emmanouilidis answered questions from Voxeurop members. Here are a few choice excerpts. You too can contribute to our day-to-day work and help sustain independent European journalism by becoming a member for as little as €4.20 a month!

What impact have the tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean had on the peace process in Cyprus? (Question from Carlo, Barcelona, Spain)

Observers on the ground report that the president of the Republic of Cyprus is under pressure to return to the negotiating table after the crucial upcoming “election” of the new Turkish Cypriot leader, to be held in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) in October. All this is happening while Turkish military vessels are in the territorial waters of the Republic of Cyprus. The only question is what shape the de-escalation will take. That is why the European Council of September 24 will be decisive. Ankara points to the fact that the Turkish Cypriots are excluded from the exploitation of natural resources – mainly hydrocarbons – present in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the island. For his part the Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci proposed the creation of a hydrocarbon fund, but the Cypriot government rejected his proposal. In addition to the sea incursions, Ankara is tightening the pressure on Nicosia by threatening a two-state solution – that is, to legitimize the invasion and occupation. It also wants to open up the city of Varosha (a ghost district of Famagusta abandoned by its inhabitants after the Turkish invasion of 1974) – that is, to colonize it, contrary to the UN resolutions. Henceforth, the EEZ, the status of Varosha and the “election” in the TRNC are the factors which will decide the outcome of the negotiations over peace and reunification. 

What is the feeling of the people of Cyprus – in the north as well as the south – over this situation? (Question from Romain, Biarritz, France)

Both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots are worried. I think that after 46 years of Turkish occupation and division of the island, the overwhelming sentiment is one of weariness. Every citizen hopes one day to see the island reunified again, free and independent in a bi-zonal and bicommunal federation. 

From your article we understand the roles and strategies of Paris, Berlin and of course Athens in the current crisis. Are other EU member states involved, and if so in what way? (Question from Mariana, Geneva, Switzerland)

Although the EU has expressed its unequivocal support for Greece and the Republic of Cyprus, it is clearly struggling to find a unanimous response to Turkish incursions into the Greek and Cypriot EEZs. On the one hand, southern countries like Malta, Spain and Italy (whose role is somewhat ambiguous) have refrained from expressing their support. They share commercial interests with Turkey. On the other, Sebastian Kurz’s Austria has been a fervent defender of EU borders, strongly condemning Turkey. Erdoğan knows how divided the EU is and benefits from it.

Thank you for your article! How do you explain that the situation in Cyprus is so little covered in the European media? (Question from Cécile, Paris, France)

Hello Chloé. How and why did you choose to set up as a press correspondent in Cyprus? (Question from Ruben, Brussels, Belgium)

Thank you for this question which is very important to me as a native Cypriot. After years in the business, I have seen for myself that Cyprus is very little covered in the mainstream European media. And yet Nicosia is the last divided capital of the EU, and has been for almost as long as Berlin was! The media consider Cyprus to be a small island where not much happens, yet in size it is larger than Singapore. Because of the languages spoken in Cyprus, the European media still consider the island to be a colony of Greece or Turkey, yet the Republic of Cyprus is a European state, a member of the EU. This is why I moved to Cyprus. In my opinion it is important to be present on the ground and to be as objective as possible, especially in a country in conflict.

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