OPINION

Casus belli

The recent reinforcement of Turkish forces in the breakaway state on northern Cyprus serves a primarily political objective. Ankara never misses an opportunity to convey the message that it will react fiercely should Cyprus be allowed to join the European Union without a prior solution to the political dispute. In practice, of course, these troop reinforcements do not entail a qualitative change in the balance of military power on the divided island. After the implementation of several armaments programs over the last 20 years, the free part of Cyprus is no longer undefended. However, because of its geographical proximity, Turkey has a strong military advantage in the air and sea, a fact which leaves no hope for victory in a conflict limited to the Cyprus front. On the military level, the only deterring factor is the Greek casus belli. Athens has issued an official warning that an assault by the occupying forces on Greece will mean an all-out war. Such a war would inflict huge damage on both sides that would far exceed any potential political or territorial gain. Such a war would, in other words, be against Turkish interests. Athens ought to make clear to Ankara that there is no prospect of a local or limited military conflict on Cyprus or the Aegean Sea. And this is of particular significance, as various circles in Ankara are tempted to engage in limited military action, when and where they deem right…