The Greek Cypriot administration has tried all possible means to stop ferries sailing from the port of Famagusta in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) to Lattakia of Syria and is still trying. All possible means includes everything from political oppression to blackmail, from political misdirection to bribery, inclusive of the influ-ence of the Orthodox ecclesiastics as well. They have tried everything possible to reach their goal.
I often wonder about those who say the Cyprus problem started after the Turkish intervention in 1974. This depiction is just a fairy tale and is often used to mislead people with minimal knowledge of the issue. It actually started in 1963 and still goes on. I am also perplexed by those who say there are no embargoes on the Turkish Cypriots. From Dec. 22, 1963, to July 20, 1974 — 11 long years — the Turkish Cypriots were confined to an “open-air prison” by the Greek Cyprus government headed by Makarios. They were allowed no freedom of movement, no property or education rights and no normal life: no jobs, no money, no medicine, no milk, no water and no future.
And from 1974 to this day the Greek Cypriot administration tried very hard to keep the Turkish Cypriots isolated from the world. This inhumane struggle of Greek Cypriots is nowadays concentrated on the sea route from Famagusta to Lattakia. Direct ferries between Syria and the KKTC were launched on Oct. 18, scheduled every Thursday and Saturday between the Gazimağusa (Famagusta) port in northern Cy-prus and the port of Lattakia in Syria.
The Greek Cypriot administration voiced its disappointment a couple of days before the start of the ferry service, after its protests to Damascus against such a move went unheeded. In the very beginning the Greek Cypriot administration started diplomatic contacts at a dip-lomatic agent level, but the Syrian high-ranking diplomat in Nicosia never gave a clear response as to whether they would give permission to the regular boat tours or not.
The next stage was to establish a contact in the level of foreign ministers, and Mrs. Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, the minister of foreign affairs of the Greek Cypriot administration, tried very hard to reach her counterpart in Syria by phone, but without success. Then she flew to New York to meet him there at the UN General Assembly and finally managed to have a diplomatic talk on this very important KKTC ferry issue. The Syrian minister of foreign affairs kindly put off the case. Still determined, Kozakou-Marcoullis insisted on a meeting and requested confirmation for an official visit to Syria. This was also not successful.
Then the Greek Cypriot administration decided to send Dr Vassos Lyssarides, the honorary president of the socialist Greek Cypriot party, the Movement of Social Democrats (EDEK), for an inducement mission to Damascus. Although he has not yet received an official invitation, he probably will still go there as a tourist today.
While Greek Cypriot operations were going astray in Syria, Arch-bishop of the Greek Orthodox Church Chrysostomos II, in his visit to Georgia to join the celebrations for the 30th anniversary of Georgian Patriarch Elias’s assumption of duties, was ordered by Greek Cypriot leader Tassos Papadopoulos to discuss the case with his counterparts and exert pressure together on the Georgian government to take the necessary steps to stop the Turkish Cypriot ferry from bearing the Georgian flag. The Maritime Transport Department of Georgia imme-diately sent a warning to the owners of the vessel, threatening deletion from the registry if they ever sail again from a port declared as closed by the Greek Cypriot administration in September 1974.
The Greek Cypriots also complained about the case to the En-largement Commission of the EU with the hope of getting support from them, just as they did with the Azerbaijan direct flight from Ercan Air-port KKTC to Heydar Aliyev International Airport in Baku two years ago; they managed to stop the flights after threatening the Azerbaijan government by vetoing all of their talks and benefits from the EU, which was shameful diplomatic blackmail.
The unexpected happened, and the Greek Cypriot administration had a head-on collision with the EU Enlargement Commission. The commission simply refused to back up their claim and replied in a very clear manner that the commission’s understanding is that there is no prohibition under general international law to enter and leave seaports in northern Cyprus, and their declaration of a “closed port” is a unila-teral decision binding only the Greek Cypriot administration. The commission also refused to intervene with the authorities of the Syrian Arab Republic in this matter.
After this incident, no one could ever say that the Greek Cypriot administration is not imposing isolation on the Turkish Cypriots or that there are no embargoes on them. They are shamefully trying all possible means to strangle the Turkish Cypriots in the hope that they will accept the Greek Cypriot yoke one day, which is a rose-colored dream for Greek Cypriots and a nightmare for Turkish Cypriots.