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YUSUF KANLI > Insisting on insanity in Cyprus

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A window of opportunity for a resolution to the Cyprus problem is opening once again. Will the Greek and Turkish Cypriot peoples of the divided east Mediterranean island be smart enough finally to grasp this opportunity and bring about an end to the almost half-century-long intercommunal power-sharing problem? Past experience unfortunately does not allow much room for optimism.

A Greek Cypriot friend wrote to kill my already-scarce optimism. He recalled a famous quote from Einstein, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Is it insanity to insist on dialogue since we have kept having inconclusive rounds of Cyprus talks since 1968 and since despite decades of efforts even the positions of the two sides on the root cause of the Cyprus problem are as different as black and white? For one it is a problem of invasion and continued occupation since 1974. For the other it is a matter of existential political equality of the two peoples of the island and the problem is one produced by the Greek Cypriot violent campaign in 1963 to exterminate the Turkish partners.

Obviously, Turkish Cypriots would not agree to a settlement bringing back pre-Turkish intervention conditions – as most Greek Cypriots still hope for. However, there could be an arrangement allowing co-existence of the two peoples on the island as two equal peoples sharing the same homeland and whose relationship cannot be defined with the problematic minority and majority terminologies. Such an arrangement was at the corner in 2004 when a U.N.-sponsored settlement plan was put to separate referendums on the island. Turkish Cypriots accepted it. Greek Cypriots, however, voted to kill it, as irrespective of the outcome a week after the vote they were to enter the European Union.

Now, some things have changed on Cyprus. The first round of the presidential vote showed that pro-settlement (and pro-bailout) Nikos Anastasiades might score a victory in Feb. 24’s second round of voting against the other contender, socialist Stavros Malas. Anastasiades is supported by a coalition of diehard nationalists opposed to a compromise settlement. Can he walk to a compromise with such a crutch? Difficult.

But, the Greek Cypriot economy is going through a severe economic crisis; so severe that the Cyprus problem was relegated in the campaign, which was dominated with discussion of how to rescue the economy. A resolution of the Cyprus problem might offer the start of a miraculous and heavenly atmosphere that could terminate economic woes as if they were just soap bubbles. How? Besides a deal opening the gigantic 75 million-person Turkish economy for Turks and Greeks of the island – which would be an unimaginable development – a deal would as well provide the prospect of carrying offshore Cypriot natural gas to European customers via Turkey, an option much cheaper and far quicker to realize than liquified gas or cross-Mediterranean pipeline options.

Despite the not-so-promising electoral crutch he has, Anastasiades, if elected, might grasp the prospects offered by a painful compromise and finally Turkish Cypriots and Turkey might find a Greek Cypriot negotiator willing to do business rather than trying to buy time pretending to be negotiating.

Of course to achieve such a breakthrough there will be a need for EU leaders to prod Anastasiades and help Greek Cypriots understand merits of a compromise; a bitter one that will bring prosperity for all.

February/20/2013

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Baris

2/21/2013 5:04:10 PM

Oh dear, Peter, so the GCs didn't believe Tr would "stop human rights violations, abide with treaties and become a true democracy", so they voted no then kept Tr out of the EU. For what? To make sure Tr continued with these "violations" and keep Cyprus divided? What kind of an argument is that? Annan said Papadopoulos didn't properly negotiate the plan or work for its success. He and the GCs had no intention of giving up on the recognition they already had and the EU membership about to have.

Hakan Haksever

2/21/2013 4:06:38 PM

Peter Kypros, GC really think we TC were born yesterday, Your leader wanted to give the UN powers over the TC. the same UN who were meant to protect us in 1974 and sat back and watched as the GC attempted ethnic cleansing in full view of the world and got away with it. Trust the UN? dont make me laugh or insult my inteligence. Secondly you ask if we would vote for the dissolution of the ROC. We are not the ones who created (the one sided ROC) so your point is invalid.

Peter Kypros

2/21/2013 6:44:00 AM

@Baris You need to listen to the full speech of Papadopoulos asking people to reject the Annan plan. The main concern was the credibility of Turkey in abiding with the implementation of the Annan plan. Mr Papadopoulos asked for UN to take over all properties that they were supposed to be returned and facilitate their return. The request was rejected by Turkey. The only thing that was guaranteed by the Annan was the dissolution of the ROC. Under these conditions would you vote yes?

Peter Kypros

2/20/2013 11:46:38 PM

It is important to understand why some Greek Cypriots voted yes to the Annan plan and many no. Those who voted yes assume that with Cyprus and eventually Turkey joining EU Turkey will no longer afford to violate agreements and human rights. Those who voted no they based on fact that there is no evidence that Turkey will stop human rights violations, abide with agreements and become a truly democratic westernized country. The no people have been proven right up to now at least.

john albay

2/20/2013 11:26:13 PM

@ thessalonian. Yet mor rubbish from you!! The greek occupied side voted No and we voted yes to reunification,even though we Turkish cypriots would have lost out,but the greek occupied zone wanted to have a 100% greek run and ruled country! Now the chance of reunification are zero from our side as we will never again trust the greek side. What about all the stolen land in the greek zone which belongs to us Turks,even your airport is built on stolen land!!! What illegal imergration in the TRNC?

Baris

2/20/2013 8:57:31 PM

Turkish troops would have gone down to 650 by now, all confined to their barracks, plus the plan made provisions to reduce them down to zero. Turkey’s (and Greece’s) influence would’ve been restricted to the treaties which established the ROC in the first place. Turkish immigrants would’ve gone down to 50K, largely those born in Cyprus or married to Cypriots. Everyone who lost their properties would’ve either returned or compensated. It was a golden opportunity wasted, because GCs wanted all.

Baris

2/20/2013 8:56:18 PM

Thessalonian, in a bizonal bifederal republic, which the GCs officially support, a GC vote cannot equal a TC vote, as it doesn’t in the current constitution of the ROC. Kurdish issue has nothing to do with Cyprus. Annan Plan would not have restricted island wide access to GCs and allowed them to own primary properties in the TC areas such that they could constitute up to 2/3 of the TC population. Plus, it would have allowed an unspecified number of GCs to own second properties in the TC areas.

ege capulcu mustafa

2/20/2013 7:47:10 PM

Thessalonian the TCs do not mind the rejection of the GCs of the Annan Plan. What annoys us is the fact that you are pretending to be masters of the whole island and what is worse is that the UN and EU accepting this fact. Like we TCs do not exist or that the GCs did not usurp the Republic of Cyprus as it was their own personal belonging and not of the two communities. Furthermore the EU ignored all the international agreements and the constitution of the Republic itself in admitting the GCs in.

Hakan Haksever

2/20/2013 7:43:35 PM

We should learn from what history has shown and what we learned is TC cannot trust GC, how many times have the GC tried to take control of the whole island by force using ethnic cleansing led by so called religous leaders and power hungry mad men, still to this day teaching little kids to hate Turks as part of their school curriculum. Love and peace are beautiful words to use, just never use them on Cyprus. I pray for the day when the world will wake up and see who has been truly wronged.

ege capulcu mustafa

2/20/2013 7:36:05 PM

Thessalonian 'a GC vote must equal a TC vote'. may work in a unified country with a population consisting overwhelmingly of one echnicity, i.e. UK, but not in Cyprus. In the UK one year you may be a part of the majority and at the next elections part of the minority but in Cyprus the Turks will always be in the minority never enjoying power. That is no democracy, but the domination of one people by another. The Turkish Cypriots will never accept this state of affairs. Wake up, stop dreaming.
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