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Turkish Greek Relations

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The Turkish Ð'- Greek relations have been one of the most important issues concerning the foreign policies of both Turkey and Greece for many years. The Turkish Ð'- Greek relations have roots dating back to the Ottoman times. The two communities shared the same roof under the Ottomans, which caused them to show many similar cultural aspects . Altough the two nations have many commonalities, they have problematic relations including competition, tension, clash and even war. Tozun BahÐ"§eli summarizes the two countries relations very clearly with this sentence, "In recent decades it has not been unusual for Turkey and Greece, approximately every ten years, to become involved in a showdown and reach the brink of war." The main reasons for these clashes are the issues in the Aegean and in Cyprus. The issues in the Aegean Sea are water territories, continental shelf and airspace and the militarization of the Greek islands. This problem is so powerful that the two countries nearly got into war over a small rocky islet in the Aegean Sea im 1996 which was recorded into the history books as the Kardak/Imia Crisis. The Cyprus issue is mainly the fight of two communities over having the control of the island, which later turned into the Turkish occupation of the northern part of the island by using military force. The Cyprus issue is still unresolved and it stands as a barrier in front the the Turkish foreign policy. Also the Greek dream of Megali Idea, which is a desire for extending the Greek borders including Western Anatolia, the Black Sea coast, all Aegean islands and Cyprus causes a bad reputation of the Greeks among the Turks. Together with all these problems and issues between Turkey and Greece, we may not disregard the positive sides of the Turkish Ð'- Greek relations. The relations got into a cooling process after the initiation of the "earthquake diplomacy" between the two countries. This earthquake diplomacy arose after the earthquakes that stroke both countries in 1999, which produced sympathy between the two countries following a process of providing aid and support to each other during the disasters. The reasons and the results of the most imporant problems and issues between Turkey and Greece, mainly the Cyprus issue and the approaches in the Aegean will be analyzed along with the improvement in the relations in the recent years. Turks and Greeks which are two communities with very similar and close cultural attributes, have been having issues and problems since they have known each other, however in the recent years, things began to change and some positive steps have been taken by both sides.

Probably the most important issue that brought Turkey and Greece against each other and put them into war is the Cyprus issue. To be able to analyze the issues on the island, first the history of the island should be mentioned. Prior to the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Britain gained the control of the island which included Turkish and Greek communities. The Greek side was trying to perform their enosis desires, meaning the union of Cyprus with the mainland Greece, however this did not happen. The enosis movement took place, with gaining so much power until the 1950's, encountering a strong British opposition. So in 1955, an organization called EOKA(National Organization of Cypriot Fighters) was established by the Greek Cypriots to resist the British control to perform enosis. They attacked the military and police facilities which resulted with the Turkish Cypriots gaining most of the places in the police organization. By that time the Turkish side was supporting the division of the island in opposition to the union desires of the Greek side. "The presence of a sizeable Turkish community, and the legacy of three centuries of Ottoman rule in Cyprus, made it almost certain that Turkish interest would be aroused by any developments of affecting its kinsmen." says Tozun BahÐ"§eli, explaining the view of the Turkish side of the Greek enosis. With so much disorder and the danger of a civil war on the island, Cyprus gained its independence in 1960.

The constitution of the independent Cyprus stated that the republic should have a Greek Cypriot president and a Turkish Cypriot vice-president, with the fact that 78% of the island was Greek and the 18% was Turkish . Makarios, an arcbishop was selected as the president. The independence of the island did not stop the fights and disputes between the two communities. After a series of peacemaking attempts, Makarios started to turn away from enosis. This caused the Greeks to take opposition against Makarios to overthrow him. After the military coup in Greece, the head of the military power, Dimitrios Ionnides, acted to overthrow Makarios . Makarios had won the elections gathering 96% of the votes. This showed that majority of the Greek Cypriot majority did not support enosis . However the Greek Junta ignored this fact and performed its terrorist actions to achieve their goals . Turkey's response to this event was to invade the island on July 20, 1974. In two days, the Turkish troops managed to reach Nicosia and the military junta collapsed. After the peace talks started, Turkey stated that it will not leave the island until a political settlement was maintained on the island . During the peace talks, Turkey offered the seperation of the island which was refused by Makarios. So Turkey continued the military force and gained the control of 36% percent of the island . This division of the island resulted with the deaths of thousands of people and the relocation of hundreds of thousands of people.

As the peace talks could not bring the two sides to an agreement, the Turkish Cypriots declared the independence of a Turkish state on the island in 1983, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus which was soon recognized by Turkey. The reaction of the world was not supportive for this case. Again, many attempts to turn Cyprus into an independent, non-aligned, bi-communal and bi-zonal state were initiated however, no agreement were obtained from both sides .

Since the beginning of these issues and problems in Cyprus, many attempts to solve the problems and to end the conflict in Cyprus are initiated however no solution has been reached until the present day. One of the most recent peace solutions presented for the future of the island is the "Annan Plan" prepared by Kofi Annan, the secretary general of the United Nations. According to the Annan Plan, a federal state called the United Cyprus Republic, which consisted of two component states, Turkish Cypriot constituent state and the Greek Cypriot constituent state would be established . The Turkish state would have the 28.5% of the island, whereas the Greek state would have the 71% of the island, with both states having their own parliaments . And also a bicameral parliament



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