YUSUF KANLI > Ambiguity

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Was there much hope for success before the “natural” July 1 deadline for the Cyprus talks? Unfortunately not. All Cyprus watchers were pretty much aware anyhow that because of the ambivalent attitude of Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias and the heavy political luggage of Turkish Cypriot leader Derviş Eroğlu, a resolution to the almost half century long problem anytime soon would require more than a miracle.

Greek Cypriots were reluctant to walk the road of compromise, believing - as the EU-member Cypriot state recognized by the world - that they did not need to compromise. With the unwavering support of EU-membership hopes dashed, Turkey and behind them the Turkish Cypriots, were determined not to give up any of their fundamental positions. Thus, hopes of a resolution to the almost half century old Cyprus problem were left to wait until after both the Greek Cypriot EU term presidency and the coming presidential elections in southern (Turkish) Cyprus.

With half of the Greek Cypriot EU term presidency over and only months until the presidential elections, the atmosphere in the southern half of divided Nicosia was not one of hope or promise of resolution. On the contrary, talking with Greek Cypriot leaders it was easy to immediately realize the daunting task facing peacemaking on the island. No one approved of the Annan plan any more, including those who were supportive of it back in 2004. Almost no one was of the opinion that the latest round of direct talks, “a process aimed at achieving a settlement by Cypriots for Cypriots” as Christofias loves to describe them, should be continued from where they were left in June.

Eroğlu has almost three more years in the presidency, but since Christofias is not seeking reelection he will have to continue the process with whoever emerges the victor after the February Greek Cypriot presidential elections. At the moment, Democratic Rally leader Nicos Anastasiades appears to be in the lead of the presidential race. Anastasiades and Eroğlu, as two center-right leaders, both wish to demonstrate - not only to the leftists but also to the right-wing politicians on both sides - that they can develop good relations, have dined together many times in the past few years. Such “good relations” and numerous luncheons and dinners between leftist leaders - outgoing president Christofias and former Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet Ali Talat – helped contribute to attempts toward a resolution. Will past wining and dining help Eroğlu and a probable president Anastasiades strike a deal? The prospects are high, considering that Anastasiades supported until very recently a loose federal settlement, very much like Eroğlu. However, to win the support of far-right as well as the undecided “nationalist” votes, which he would need to win 50 percent or more of the vote (in public opinion polls he retreated to 39-41 percent from over 45 percent last month) he has lately started supporting a pro-strong central government stance. My intense efforts to meet Anastasiades failed, as he was scared of saying something wrong that could further upset his election campaign.

With electoral calculations, he has stepped back from his well-known pro-loose federation position. Should he be elected, could he manage to leave behind domestic political calculations, act with a statesman-like responsibility, and deliver the loose federation demanded by Turkish Cypriots and not much appreciated by Greek Cypriots? Could he change his ambivalent approach, be more responsible and deliver a compromise settlement? Very unlikely.

On the other hand, there are intense efforts by the Church of Cyprus and the die-hard conservatives and socialists (a strange coalition, but Cyprus’ reality) to produce a “surprise” unity candidate strong enough to beat Anastasiades in the polls. Could that be achieved? So far, reportedly, there are three candidates and no consensus on any of them. However, there is time ahead of the elections.


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Chris Green

9/22/2012 8:40:41 PM

The Annan Plan did no favours for Turkish Cypriots at all and in fact Denktas, who read all 9000 pages of it, urged his people that it was not favourable to them, nevertheless they voted in favour only for the Greek side to vote it down because they claim 100% of the island, an unsustainable and certainly unattainable goal. Whilst it must be acknowledged that the Greek side lost land, so too did Turkish Cypriots during the fall out of an entirely Greek instigated era of darkness from 1963-74!


9/21/2012 6:03:04 PM

The ill fated and incompatible by international law and with the charter of human rights and freedoms Annan plan, supported limitation(s) of travel, residence and property ownership by Greek Cypriots in parts of the currently occupied areas, as such, it was rightely rejected and termed "the Annan Apartheid plan." Furthermore, it would have legitimized the continuation of interfering intervention by foreign nationals (Brits, Greeks, Turks) in the Republic's Parliamentary affairs. Regards

Chris Green

9/21/2012 5:26:29 PM

Anastasiades is apparently favoured by Christosomos and therefore with such dubious backing, any hopes, however slim of a loose or any other federal settlement is zero. The church demands the whole of Cyprus for it was indeed under their direct orders that the genocide of Turkish Cypriots took place! The likelihood too, of the Turkish Security forces leaving Cyprus is also very low and there is no one (especially the Greeks) that can force them to do so. The solution is Taksim and recognition!

Turk down under

9/21/2012 4:20:41 PM

@Nikos- This is my own opinion, but I would say the more Islamist the Turkish government becomes the less Turkish Cypriots will rely on Turkey, in fact I think they'll come running to the negotiating table


9/21/2012 4:07:31 PM

DAVE, your information is not correct. Turkish constitution has no mention of Cyprus, let alone troop removal. Don't forget that Turkey supported the Annan Plan which would've reduced the Turkish troops to 650 (Greek troops to 950), confined to barracks, and had provisions for removal of all the troops.


9/21/2012 3:40:26 PM

Two observations Mr. Kanli for the benefit of your readership. Firstly, the end of the second paragraph describes South Cyprus as Turkish. An innocent, yet critical, error I would assume. Secondly, your analysis has, rather strangely and perhaps conveniently, omitted to mention the not so positive effect(s) of Turkey's interfering role, unlike Greece, in the said negotiations. Regards


9/21/2012 12:02:57 PM

One rarely mentioned fact is that, contrary to all Turkish claims of willingness to solve the problem, it remains a constitutional crime in Turkey for anyone to MERELY call for the removal of Turkish troops from Cyprus. And there lies the problem.

frank reynolds

9/21/2012 10:54:50 AM

By the time most of the people I know here in the T.R.N.C. finish this article there mouths will be very wide open in disbelief. I for one would like to pose a simple question. When was the last time Jusuf Kanli visited planet earth? This analysis of what is happening here is breathtakingly off the mark. With respect, it's absolute drivel.

Nikos T.

9/21/2012 10:10:47 AM

Whatever the results on the elections will be, there is no hope for this issue to be resolved. Even if GCs and TCs can find a way to get things going, Turkey will never let this island to act as an independent country. This is affecting TC's officials decisions. In other words, if you want an independent Cyprus you cannot become a TC official... On the other hand, GCs do not depend on Greeks. They really don't care what they think. They have their own strategy in energy, deffence, economy etc.

Daniel Boom

9/21/2012 8:40:44 AM

Is it possible that a Cyprus settlement can be achieved where Turkey would feel that it's losing its control over Cyprus?
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