Federation in Cyprus is dead and buried
Ending the over half-century-old with cannot be described with that “searching a calf under an ox” cliché. Fifty years of on-off Cyprus intercommunal negotiations must be enough to understand that one of the two parties to the problem has never had any intention to compromise and share power on the basis of political equality.
Greek Cypriots love to compare the situation of the Turkish Cypriots with the Kurdish problem in Turkey. Obviously, Kurds in Turkey and many other countries have a problem with the central government, but every problem has its own peculiarities and must be dealt with accordingly.
As Kofi Annan once said, the relationship between Cyprus’ Greek and Turkish communities is not one of “majority and minority,” but rather one of two peoples sharing the same homeland. There has never been a Cypriot nation and the Turkish Cypriots have never engaged in a secessionist campaign; rather, they were militarily attacked by Greek Cypriots and were subjected to an annihilation campaign. Everything else, including the Turkish intervention of 1974, settlers, territorial aspects, refugees and so on was a byproduct of the original crimes relentlessly committed by the Greek Cypriots between 1963 and 1974.
Federation was never the first choice of the Greek or Turkish Cypriot political authorities. It was simply the only option that the two sides considered both “possible” and “livable,” excluding the Greek Cypriot wish to converting the Cyprus republic into a totally Greek state and the Turkish Cypriot demand to have their own state. Another option, “double enosis,” or annexation of one half to Greece and the other to Turkey, was also on the cards for some. But among most Turkish Cypriots, particularly since the ascent to power of the Islamists, annexation to Turkey has become a rather unpopular, if not hated, option.
Fifty years of federation talks have produced some rather promising possible compromises. At the latest talks Turkey even (verbally) agreed to end its guarantor status and withdraw almost all Turkish troops from Cyprus. The return of sizeable territory to the Greek Cypriot side, including Morphou (Güzelyurt) was also tentatively offered. Yet the Greek Cypriot side could not agree to rotation of the presidency and other clauses reflecting the political equality and effective participation in governance of Turkish Cypriots. The negotiation car was thus driven into yet another dead-end.
It is obvious that we have now come to a new junction. One element to be considered in deciding which road to take should be the hydrocarbon riches off the island. Linking the island with an undersea cable to the Turkish – or from Crete to Cyprus to Israel – electricity grid is another. Opening Turkish ports to Greek Cypriot ships and energizing maritime commercial traffic between the eastern Mediterranean and the rest of the globe might be another. The resources, opportunities and capacity unleashed with a Cyprus resolution must as well be taken into account in concentrating on how to resolve the Cyprus problem.
Some may think it is beneficial for a country to ignore developments and continue living in its own small world, with its head buried deep in the sand. But neither the Turks nor the Greeks are ostriches; they are aware of the huge potential a Cyprus deal could unleash. The recent case of the Eni company’s failed drilling demonstrated clearly the futility of unilateral fait accomplis by the Greek Cypriot side, as if they are the only decision-makers regarding Cyprus’ natural resources. The acknowledgement of Turkish Cypriot rights under the 1960 agreements, and developing mechanisms for the mutual benefit of the two people of the island has become a must.
If reaping the benefits of the resources of the island on the basis of the 1960 partnership terms is so difficult for the Greek Cypriot side, how can there ever be a federal partnership state? It seems the concept of “federation” is now finally dead and buried.