Akıncı trying to sooth worries, but…
The leaders of the two peoples of Cyprus were reported to be in agreement over completing their search for convergences in all headings within their competency by the end of July and push the talks to a new stage with a five-party conference to bring an end to one of the most intractable problems of international diplomacy, the Cyprus issue.
Could the two leaders indeed achieve such an ambitious target and finish off a problem that has become far bigger than the island itself? Could it be possible for the Greek Cypriots to stop pretending as if they were discussing federation but indeed demanding a unitary state? Could Turkish Cypriots stop pretending as if they were talking federation but promoting the idea of a confederation? Naturally, the island is bigger than the two leaders and whatever they might come up as a “Cypriot agreement” to end the “problem of the Cypriots” would be just another Cyprus plan unless that agreement was endorsed in separate and simultaneous referenda of the two peoples.
That is the catch phrase… The need to get the agreement, which might earn the two leaders the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize, endorsed separately by the two peoples of the island compels the two leaders to engage in public diplomacy as well. The Greek side has been quite good at that. They have always been so. On the Turkish Cypriot side however, since the political arena was orphaned by the departure of legendary Rauf Denktaş, there has always been a serious problem in that area. In a society which has been predominantly conservative, coming to power has been a very difficult task for leftist politicians but staying in power has proven to be a far more difficult job. Mehmet Ali Talat could not have a second term in office. Mustafa Akıncı appears to have no such chance either. Ever since he was elected the old fighter for a peaceful resolution of the Cyprus problem has made such gestures and put forward such proposals that not a negligible amount of Turkish Cypriots started to describe him as a spokesman of the Greek Cypriots.
Empathy, he said, ought to be the key word on which a Cyprus settlement could be built. He was trying to convey to his people the bitter reality that a Cyprus settlement must be considered as a viable deal not only by Turkish Cypriots but also for the Greeks and thus it must cater to the expectations and worries of Greek Cypriots as well. So far, so good. If there was a Greek Cypriot leader sharing the same philosophy and sending such messages to the Turkish Cypriot people, making proposals demonstrating that he indeed understood the worries and expectations of the Turks of the island, this would have been the optimum time to put an end to the Cyprus issue. After all, as Akıncı has been saying, for the first time ever there are leaders on both sides who voted in support of a 2004 U.N.-sponsored peace plan.
Things, unfortunately, are not as clear as that. The Greek Cypriot leader has still been talking federation but aiming at achieving a unitary state, which he believed would not be a new state but just a continuation of the Cyprus Republic usurped by Greek Cypriots back in 1964. He still has been talking of a Cyprus Republic with a Turkish Cypriot province with some enhanced minority rights and left to the mercy of Greek Cypriots as the Turkish guarantee ought to end. There ought to be a 4/1 ratio between the Greek and Turkish populations of the island. How could it be firmly fixed in an agreement? Would he castrate all Turkish Cypriots to maintain the population ratio? He has been stressing that “four freedoms” which guarantee the settlement, property ownership and free movement of people, goods, capital and services would be sine qua non of any deal.
Akıncı has been trying to defend that he never ever agreed to a 4/1 population ratio. His spokesman confirmed that the two leaders agreed that the post-settlement citizens of Cyprus would comprise of 800,000 Greek Cypriots and 220,000 Turkish Cypriots. Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades was quoted saying that the 4/1 ratio in population would always be maintained as a stipulation of the founding agreement. Akıncı’s office has said no such deal was discussed.
Four freedoms, if applied without any restriction, would devastate the bi-zonality and bi-communality of the federation to be established. Akıncı’s office claim four freedoms would be regulated by the Turkish Cypriot state. How? Greek Cypriots say, “No way.”
Turkey’s guarantees remain a thorn. Greek Cypriots say discussions were underway on the issue; Akıncı’s office says the issue will be discussed when a five-party conference convenes. Greek Cypriots say the guarantee system must be terminated if an agreement is wanted; Akıncı says, “No way.”
Most important, while it has been a key demand of Turkish Cypriots to make all possible derogations of the EU’s primary law through getting them endorsed in parliaments of member states, Greek Cypriots categorically object to that.
Now Akıncı’s office says there were “difficulties” in the Greek Cypriot side and the “will to compromise” by Anastasiades would be instrumental in reaching a settlement.
This picture not only makes it almost impossible to say Akıncı has been successful in soothing worries nor to believe that the two leaders can come up with an almost done deal on Cyprus by the end of July.