OPINION

Editorial

As NATO governments join forces to combat the threat of Islamic terrorism, and as people across the world fix their eyes on Afghanistan in view of a potential US response, even those most skeptical of Turkey’s intentions were surprised by Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit’s recent remarks, in which Cyprus was made out to be a center for terrorist organizations and money laundering. Ecevit’s comments were followed yesterday by those made by Turkey’s chief of the armed forces. They revived Turkey’s typical anti-Greek stereotypes with claims that Greek Cypriots had mistreated Turkish Cypriots in the 1960s and that the refugee camps in Lavrion were in fact terrorist bases. The repeated violations of Greek airspace by Turkish fighter jets over the last three days underscore that Huseyin Kivrikoglou’s remarks were not verbal exaggeration. They clearly reflect Ankara’s political decision to exploit the current circumstances in order to extract something in return from the USA and exert pressure on Athens. The provocative stance of Turkey’s political and military elite confirms that despite its EU candidacy, Ankara has not toned down its aggressive behavior. In fact, the Turkish leadership deems that the period of niceties and rapprochement has come to an end. It now wishes to open all-out negotiations on the status of the Aegean, its fixed objective over the last 30 years. By cultivating a climate of tension, Turkey is also trying to put a brake on Cyprus’s EU accession. There is also a third reason. The American initiative to recognize the Palestinian state is significant and demonstrates that the present crisis may prompt the USA to forge settlements on outstanding disputes such as the Cyprus problem and the Aegean dispute. Turkey is trying to exploit the volatile environment in order to find itself in a better bargaining position in case there are radical developments in the region.