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Europe to Turkey: Compensate Cyprus. Turkey to Europe: drop dead

One of the other occupations in the Middle East is in the news.

On May 12 the European Court of Human Rights ordered Turkey to pay 90 million euros (around $124 million) to Cyprus. The award arises from Turkey’s 1974 conquest and 40-year occupation of northern Cyprus. This invasion led to the partition of Cyprus and the creation of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, a “country” no one recognizes except Turkey.

The judgment ruled that Turkey must pay 30 million euros (around $40 million) in compensation to relatives of those still missing from the conflict, and 60 million euros (around $80 million) for Greek Cypriots trapped in the Turkish-held Karpas peninsula.

The government of Cyprus was delighted by the decision. It said that it expected Turkey’s “immediate compliance” with the court’s decision, one of the more optimistic (or delusional) statements of the week. Greece was equally pleased by the court’s ruling.

But Turkey, for its part, has no plans to pay. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said: “In terms of the grounds for this ruling, its method and the fact that it is considering a country that Turkey does not recognize as a counterpart, we see no necessity to make this payment. . . . Yesterday's ECHR ruling consists of some legal contradictions and therefore we don't see it as at all binding, in terms of payment.” Which stripped of its diplomatic fog and murk, means: Europe can’t enforce its judgment, so it can pound sand.

Northern Cyprus’ Deputy Prime Minister Serdar Denktaş stated that Turkey should reconsider its efforts to join the European Union. Since the judicial decision was intended to gratify the Greeks and Greek Cypriots, Turkey can’t trust the EU, Denktaş said. And it may well be that Turkey’s sense that the EU will never let Turkey join its club emboldened Turkey to thumb its nose at the decision. Certainly, under the current Islamist government, Turkey has turned eastward, away from Europe. Its attempts to lead the Turkic world of Central Asia, if not the entire Muslim world (after all, the Caliphate was in Istanbul until the collapse of the Ottoman Empire) are hardly compatible with a European identity.

And to bring a final touch of satire to the affair, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry wants “to be helpful in this process” of Cypriot-Turkish negotiations, which resumed in February. Since everything Kerry has touched has turned to dirt, there is a risk that the Cypriot situation will worsen in the months ahead.

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