Monday (July 13th): Another frozen conflict heating up: Cyprus Edition!

Nicos Anastasiades

Name? Nicos Anastasiades

Westphalian identity? Cypriot

Age? 73

Why is he in the news? As president of the Republic of Cyprus, Anastasiades is pleased with the U.S. decision to end the arms embargo on the island as well as conduct military training with his own armed forces.

Why do we care? Although it’s largely unknown, Cyprus is one of the world’s most enduring frozen conflicts as it’s been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops seized it’s northern third in response to a Greek Cypriot coup. As you may have noticed with our coverage of Israel and Palestine and the two Koreas, we’re quite invested in frozen conflicts and any sort of changes made regarding them.

Why should you care? The internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus is an EU member state and UN peacekeeping forces continue to patrol the “Green line” buffer zone between the Turkish Cypriot north and the Greek Cypriot south. In other words, any decision that involves the military and political spheres in Cyprus, also impacts the respective spheres at the EU level.

Who else cares? Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The Turkish President along with the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) criticised the announcement as potentially hurting the peace and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean. More specifically, Erdoğan is interested in protecting Turkey’s most recent drilling for gas off the coast of Cyprus; a move the EU deemed illegal.

Any further comments? During all of this, we cannot neglect the heightened strain that such training places on Trump and Erdoğan’s relationship as NATO frenemies. Trump (or rather Pompeo’s) budding friendship with Anastasiades will undoubtedly have some consequences in his relations with Erdoğan. More interestingly though, is Trump’s encouragement for one of his other buddies to cozy up with Anastasiades: Netanyahu. Should Netanyahu, Trump and Anastasiades become three amigos, Macron might be right after all in declaring NATO braindead. 

Sarah McFadden

General Coordinator