Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Latin American outpost in the hills of Cyprus

Wednesday, September 28th...

As most people know, Cyprus is a divided island, with the EU member, the Republic of Cyprus to the south of the Green Line, and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, recognised only by Turkey, to the north. However, the line is not a continuous one.

The enclave of Kokkina, known to Turkish Cypriots as Erenkoy, is surrounded on three sides by the Republic of Cyprus, and to the north by the Mediterranean Sea. The hills are studded with military bases, each with its own rather curiously camouflaged bus stop on the Greek side (after all, how else do troops get to them?), two of which have the familiar pale blue flag of the United Nations. The south-east base has a sign, wishing visitors and passers-by 'bienvenidos', which came as a bit of surprise. And then I took a closer look (photographs are, by the way, discouraged)...

... and discovered that the UN force at Kokkina is provided by Argentina and Chile. It is a sign of the times that a major European point of tension is being managed by Latin Americans, under the command of a Peruvian. It is also telling in that Latin American governments are confidently taking their place in UN missions - the naval element of the Lebanon mission is now supplied by Brazil.

I do wonder why the Turks retain such an awkward toehold on the coast. It can only be supplied by sea or by helicopter, most of the inhabitants have been relocated, and is surrounded by steep hills, from which the Greek side could incessantly bombard were they to be so minded.

But a resolution must come. The Turks want entry to the European Union, the Greek Cypriots want their possessions back (as do the Turkish Cypriots), and until the two sides agree to settle, nobody's agenda will progress.

2 comments:

Aberavon & Neath Liberal Democrats said...

It was the Greek Cypriots who blocked reunification last time there was a vote on the matter.
Frank Little

Mark Valladares said...

Frank,

As I discovered... but that's a story for another day...