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Faced with Erdogan, the " appeasement policy" does not pay"! Itw with Cypriot MEP Costas Mavrid

Faced with the conquering neo-sultan Erdogan and Islamofascism, the " appeasement policy" does not pay"! Interview with Cypriot MEP Costas Mavrides

The last European Summit of December 11 aimed to decide on strong and dissuasive sanctions against Erdogan's Turkish expansionism, but under German, spanish, bulgarian and italian pressures in particular, it ended up giving in to the "appeasement policy ", which Churchill had mocked so much in the face of rising Hitlerism. This summit has also remained shy in the face of radical Islam, which has never been named, and Jihadist terrorism, called "violent extremism"... To take stock, Alexandre del Valle met in the European Parliament the most active and determined member of Parliament on these serious issues: Costas Mavrides.

Costas Mavrides: 58 years old, MEP, doctor in economics from the University of Houston, former University professor from 1995 to 2004, is a member of the European Parliament since 2014, within the European political group "Alliance of Socialists and Democrats", the second most powerful in the Assembly after the EPP. In Cyprus, he is a member of the Democratic Party (DIKO), the party of the former president and independence hero, Tassos Papadopoulos, which fought the English and Turkish invaders, and which opposed the Kofi Annan plan for the reunification of the island that only benefited to the Turkish invader. Within the European Parliament, the influence of Mavrides, inversely proportional to that of his country, a member of the EU since 2004 and still 37% occupied by the Turkish army, is as impressive as it is courageous. Its constant action to raise awareness of the double threat of expansionist Turkey and radical Islamism shows that we can sometimes overcome the right-left cleavages. Within the European Parliament, Mavrides is notably a member of the Delegation to the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee, of the Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranee, of the "Security and Defense" Sub-Committee, of the Delegation for relations with Israel, and of the Committee on Political Affairs, Security and Human Rights, which in particular closely studied the jihadist crimes committed in Syria. Finally, he chairs the Political Committee for the Mediterranee, which belongs to the Union for the Mediterranee. His opinion on Islamism, jihadism and the Turkish threat in the Mediterranean area is therefore particularly credible. In France, one could compare his lucidity on these questions with those of other so-called "progressive" anti-Islamist personalities like Malek Bouthi anti-racist french-algerian leader, former Prime Minister Manuel Valls or François Pupponi. He also greatly appreciates France, which he sees as the best strategic ally of his country and of Greece, alongside Egypt for that matter, in the face of Erdogan's appetites for power. He even dreams of a Europe in which the politico-strategic leadership, now too much in the hands of Germany, would be taken over by Paris, the only European capital capable, according to him, of building a real independent European defense and capable of resisting the Turkish-Islamist threat. During our interview, he immediately announces the "color" of his democratic fight, in a direct and frank style: "we must stop the advance of Islamofascism and the neo-Ottoman sultan, this new Hitler who threatens Europe, the Mediterranean and the Humanity ... The policy of appeasement will only produce opposite effects.., and the bill will be paid dearly in terms of bloodshed" ...

Alexandre del Valle: As a Member of The European Parliament, and of the Socialists and Democrats EU Political Group, how do you analyse the last European Summit statement on Turkey that finally did not want to lauch strong sanctions against Ankara?

Costas Mavrides : On the 26th of November, 2020, for the first time, the European Parliament adopted, overwhelmingly, such a strong stance against Turkey, asking from the Council to “take action and impose tough sanctions” on Turkey, “in response to [its] illegal actions”. In addition, last week, our amendment tabled together with other Greek and Cypriots colleagues on the EU Common Security and Defence policy report was successfully adopted, asking all EU Member States to halt arms export for all types of military equipment, including know-how, to Turkey. Although the resolutions are not binding, the European Parliament sends a clear and strong message to the European Council. The responsibility of the decision on sanctions lies solely with the European Council, which needs to decide by unanimity.

The latest decision on Turkey by the European Council on the 10th of December was disappointing, to say the least, going against EU common interests and principles. Despite Turkey’s continuing aggression and overwhelming call of the European Parliament, the heads of states didn’t proceed with imposing strong economic sanctions against Turkey. Taking into consideration, the economic and trade relations of some EU Member States with Turkey, including arms exports, the refugees issue as well as the large Turkish minorities in some EU Member States, it was not possible to reach unanimity in the European Council. Germany, as the Presidency country of the Council for this semester, had an added vital and leading role to play towards imposing or not sanctions on Turkey. Unfortunately, Germany's role has been more in line with its own special economic and political interests and not with EU interest. If not corrected soon, Germany’s fault would have detrimental effect on its own leading role in EU. By the way, Germany, Italy, Spain are in the "high tech arms business" with Turkey and at the same time opposing arms embargo or other sanctions.

When the EU leaders met in Brussels haggling over the wording of the continuously changing drafts of the European Council's statement on Turkey on December 10, Erdogan was in Azerbaijan acting with the arrogance of a neo-Sultan who enabled the Azeri victory over Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabakh war in the South Caucasus. In addition, following the announcement of the decision of the European Council, Turkey proceeded straight away with new provocations in the Eastern Mediterranean. Erdogan made it obvious from the beginning that he will be even more aggressive in light of Europe’s mild steps, as it was predicted.

Alexandre del Valle: Is it a new kind of «appeasement policy » or « Neo-Munich » strategy? Can we compair him with a new Hitler because of its will to conquer its neighbor lands and seas and his use of jihadist fighters to kill Armenians?

Costas Mavrides: Back in 2016, in one of my interventions on Turkey in the European Parliament, I stated, referring to Erdogan, that “in front of us, we have an emerging Hitler” and called on the EU to swiftly react and take preventively measures before it is too late. In the absence of a response by the EU, what is the situation that we are facing now with Turkey?

After a domestic attack against the remaining minorities in Turkey, especially the Kurds and any dissidents, the Erdogan regime is driven by the spirit of outward conquest, which is now dominant in modern Turkish political scene and its regional interventions. Rooted in the Ottoman 'law of the sword' – or the idea that the conqueror can rule a conquered country or territory according to his desires – Turkey has returned to its Ottoman ambitions. We have already observed Turkey’s expansionist policy in Iraq and Syria with the occupation of Afrin and the ongoing slaughter of Kurds. More recently, we have seen Turkey’s aggression in Libya and Nagorno Karabakh with the transferring of mercenaries and jihadists and the supply of arms. As far as the EU, the neo-Ottoman Turkey, has extended the illegal occupation of the northern territory of the Republic of Cyprus since 1974, by invading the Cyprus maritime zones in the sea, while proceeding with similar illegal actions against Greece in the Aegean Sea. Specifically, since May 2019, Turkey has been conducting illegal drilling activities in the continental shelf/EEZ of the Republic of Cyprus. Still, at this moment, the Turkish illegal activities are ongoing in the Cyprus maritime zones. A look at the map, indicates that Turkey’s claims even reach the maritime borders between Cyprus and Egypt! It is evidently clear that the illegal exploration and drilling activities by Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean pose a serious threat to peace and security of the whole region.

In 2016, I was one of the few MEPs that I was daring to speak up. Today, the majority in the European Parliament admits that Erdogan is the new Hitler or to be more accurate, is the neo-ottoman Sultan. In many occasions, I stressed, addressing the President of the European Council (EU Heads of states and governments) and the HR/VP of the EU, that the “appeasement policy” towards Nazi Germany was extremely costly as was later heavily paid by humanity. The same applies for the expansionist policy of the neo-ottoman Sultan in Turkey. Any day that goes by without a concerted response to counter Turkish expansionism, humanity in the wider area accumulates the cost to be paid in blood and suffering. So far, I have been proven right, while the "appeasers" are wrong.

Alexandre del Valle: What is the official statement of Cyprus against this danger of this Neo-ottoman- radical Islamist Erdogan's Turkey who is jeopardizing two European Union members states as well as East Med Israeli-EU gas strategical supply project in Mediteranean see?

Costas Mavrides: The strong link between the Erdogan regime and terrorist-extremist groups, including paramilitary organisations is a non-disputed fact, being revealed many times on several occasions and in many countries as well as Erdogan's tragic policy of weaponizing the refugees and migrants and blackmailing EU. Erdogan militarily and economically supports such organisations in the Middle East, from “Hamas” in Gaza to the “Muslim Brotherhood” in Egypt and beyond. With regards to “Muslim Brotherhood”, it is Erdogan who provides them with financial support, protection and other type of logistical support. Recently, we have witnessed the recruitment of foreign terrorist fighters by Turkey and their transfer from northern Syria to Libya and Nagorno Karabakh. With this terrorist link, Erdogan aims to play a dominant role in regional politics, acting against the will of the people to impose his neo-ottoman expansionist rule.

Last month, I launched a series of initiatives, calling for an EU ban of the “Grey Wolves”, a Turkish extreme ultranationalist organisation, involved in violent actions in Turkey and EU. “Grey Wolves” is the paramilitary wing of the Turkish party MHP, which formed together with AKP, the Erdogan’s government. Together with other MEPs from different political parties, we have already sent a letter to HR/VP Josep Borell on this issue. I am also intending next month to launch a petition, aiming to collect as many signatures as possible of the EU citizens. It is time for the citizens to react against those who are supporting terrorism, putting the pressure on the Heads of States to take immediate actions.

Once again, EU is lagging behind developments that have been taken place in the rest of the wold, showing lack of leadership. Leadership requires insight and concrete actions on the required time. European Council needs to proceed immediately by imposing economic sanctions, including suspension of the Customs Union EU-Turkey and EU arms embargo. These tools are available to EU and long due against Turkey’s illegal actions, in order to weaken the domestic regime within Turkey and to face the neo-ottoman expansionism towards avoiding a wider conflict with detrimental effects on the EU and in general on the world.

Alexandre del Valle: How can we stop Erdogan’s strategy in Europe that consists in backing Muslim Brotherhoods and threatening EU by blackmailing the EU with illegal migrants if he does not get EU billions?

Costas Mavrides: There is a straight forward answer to your question and fortunately, EU has some very strong tools and policies. All of Erdogan's policies need financial funding and EU remains by far the main importer of Turkish exports. Even a trade freezing (or a suspension of the Customs Union between EU-Turkey) on the fragile Turkish economy, would weaken this neo-ottoman regime. Besides, trade and economic sanctions, we can impose targeted sanctions on the banking and energy sectors. Finally, an arms embargo is also a decision that member-states may decide. Indeed, there are many and very strong sanctions available for the EU but unfortunately, there is no EU leadership with a European vision.

On another level, it is long due to proceed with the strategic autonomy of EU by implementing the European Defence and Security. I strongly believe that this is the time for France to take the lead in the EU, not only in imposing sanctions on Turkey but on building the defence and security for EU. Germany has its own domestic priorities and special interests as demonstrated clearly regarding Turkey and also a dominant role in the Eurozone. The future of EU requires a geopolitical role and only France is able to deliver on that. This is a public appeal on behalf of millions of Europeans who believe in EU principles and civilization.

Alexandre del Valle: You are the Chair of the Political Committee for the Mediterranean, that belongs to the Union for the Mediterranean, having the support of EU and especially France. Can you tell us a little bit about your goals and ambition as Chair?

Costas Mavrides : As the Chair of the political committee for the Mediterranean, I have been advocating for the establishment of a successful cooperation between countries in the Mediterranean based on our common values and interests. The successful cooperation between European states in the 1950s, establishing the European Coal and Steel Community could can serve as a point of reference for the establishment of similar cooperation between the states in the Mediterranean. Today, the common and vital interest in the Mediterranean is the energy sector and the core of our common rules must be the respect of International Law and the territorial integrity and the sovereignty of all of our neighbours. The member states of EU at the Mediterranean and third countries as well can share the same common rules and the prospect for prosperity and stability. We cannot allow Erdogan Turkish regime to spoil such as a prospect by imposing its own neo-ottoman expansionism and islamofascist ideology.


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