DELUSIONS and myths have always been the currency of Cyprus political life, which took a divorce from reality from the day the Republic was established. Ever since, our politicians have been operating in a fantasy world of their own making, a world in which a tiny and powerless country (now also bankrupt) with the population of a mid-size town is a major political player, capable of imposing its own agenda on the world stage.
This may sound like the script for a political satire or a comedy show but in Cyprus it is for real and despite the catastrophes it has brought upon the country over the decades the delusions of grandeur and lack of a sense of perspective still reigns supreme. The politicians, urged on by a media suffering from the same delusions, make all types of pronouncements that are based on a series of irrational assumptions the main one being that all states are equal irrespective of their military and economic power.
No matter how many times this assumption has been as a fallacy by hard facts the politicians still adhere to it, as if the world had to operate in the way they imagine rather than in the way it does. Archbishop Makarios set the agenda when at the height of the Cold War he believed he could punish lack of US support for his brinkmanship, by strengthening relations with the Soviet Union and taking Cyprus into the Soviet-controlled Non-Aligned Movement, instead of NATO to which all guarantor countries belonged. Events of 1974 were the direct result of Makarios’ folly and his delusions of grandeur.
But nothing was learned and Cypriot leaders continued to grossly overestimate their power and ability to influence events. For instance, there was the fiasco of the S300 missiles, which cost the taxpayer in excess of 200 million pounds, when then President Clerides thought he would redress the imbalance of power with Turkey by deploying ballistic missiles. They were never deployed because the Turks had threatened to take them out if they had been. The Papadopoulos presidency believed it could achieve with diplomatic means what Clerides had failed to with military means. After deceiving our EU partners over the Annan plan, he tried to use membership of the Union to put pressure on Turkey, but achieved nothing.
There are countless examples of this folly and no matter how many times we were cut down to size, politicians still labour under the illusion that they can play international power games and impose their wishes on Turkey, the EU and rest of the international community. How many times in the last year have we heard Papadopoulos junior, Omirou and Lillikas calling for a new strategy in the national problem because the talks were futile? But would a new strategy make Cyprus a bigger and more powerful country that would be able to achieve the objectives of deluded politicians?
Whatever strategy we adopt Turkey would continue to have overwhelming military, economic and diplomatic superiority which are what count. It would carry on violating our EEZ, because we have no practical way of stopping its ships, and continue its military occupation of the north because we have no practical way kicking her troops out. This is the harsh reality – however unjust and unfair – that we should accept.
Nor will any third country help Cyprus defend its sovereign rights as the politicians have been claiming. In the last few months the above-mentioned party leaders have been arguing that we should strengthen relations with Russia as if this would make any difference to our extremely weak position. The latest folly is the proposal to offer Russia military facilities at a time when there is a major stand-off between Moscow and the West which included our EU partners. The idea that Russia would jeopardise its trade relations with Turkey, worth tens of billions of dollars per year and the potential of selling it vast quantities of natural gas, for the sake of helping Cyprus, is as unreal as the talk of the new strategy.
Our politicians need to leave the fantasy world they have been residing and in before they cause even more harm to the country. The only way of avoiding future instability and cashing in on what hydrocarbon deposits we may have is by returning to the talks and reaching an agreement with the Turks. The settlement might not be as just and fair as we would like, because in the world of reality and hard facts we are in a very weak position, which we do not have the power to change either now or in the foreseeable future.