Is there a window of opportunity for Cyprus?
“It is difficult to understand Greek Cypriot mentality,” Turks and other people complaining of Greeks often say. Wrong.
Just like any others would have acted had they been spoiled throughout previous decades by almost the entire international community; Greek Cypriots are simply trying to gain everything without paying at all.
On northern Cyprus for his first visit after assuming the Turkish presidency, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan boldly declared that the window of opportunity for a resolution of the over-50- year-old Cyprus problem cannot be kept open for ever. He stressed that the ongoing talks should be accelerated and that an agreement between the two leaders should be taken to simultaneous referenda without wasting further precious time.
“It is definitely out of the question to let the U.N. [Cyprus talks] process be used … to stall the international community,” he said. “I want to underline this point: The status quo cannot be allowed to continue forever.”
Greek Cypriot friends might celebrate that Erdoğan said he did not accept the status quo, therefore implying an end to Turkish commitment to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
Indeed, I will not be puzzled seeing President Nikos Anastasiades, after drinking two bottles of that drink with a sketch of a British gentleman decorating its bottle, proclaiming to his people that his friend Tayyip accepted the demands placed on him through a proxy. That is a fact: For some time there has been contact between Erdoğan’s political team and Greek Cypriots through “third party” friends.
But, as was made clear during the presidential trip to Cyprus, in all those contracts Anastasiades was boldly reminded the Cyprus problem must be resolved through bitter mutual compromises.
Greek Cypriot friends often bombard me with e-mails each time I write there is no will for a resolution of the Cyprus problem. Instead of attacking this “biased writer,” as they say, they must lend an ear to Nikos Rolandis, the foreign minister of the Makarios and Kyprianou periods.
In Greek Cypriot media, as well as in the Hürriyet Daily News, Rolandis underlined clearly and repeatedly why Greek Cypriots did not have the will to—forget it, even the intention of—resolving the Cyprus problem (Hürriyet Daily News, Feb. 2, 2008).
If I were a Greek Cypriot, would I want a resolution and sharing of power with Turkish Cypriots, or would I want the continuation of the status quo until Turkish Cypriots succumb and agree to join the Cyprus Republic under the Greek Cypriot terms?
Indeed, as Turkish Cypriot President Dr. Derviş Eroğlu underlined during Erdoğan’s one-day trip to north Cyprus, the Turkish Cypriot people want a resolution to the Cyprus problem. Their will was demonstrated with a 65 percent approval at the 2004 referenda, in which Greek Cypriots overwhelmingly voted against the U.N. plan for a resolution. That was the first and only public vote on a resolution plan.
Saying Greek Cypriots have always wanted a resolution and Turks have opposed it, unfortunately, becomes a big lie with respect to this monumental historical evidence.
Like this writer, Eroğlu voted “No” to the plan, while Anastasiades reportedly voted “Yes.”
Has anyone seen a pro-settlement attitude from Anastasiades since he came to power, however? After he was elected to office, it took him nine months to return to the talks, while Eroğlu not only publicly declared, but also wrote a letter committing himself to continue talks from the point at which his predecessor had left.
Anastasiades has been attempting to bypass Turkish Cypriots and open direct talks with Ankara. He assumes EU membership, gas finds and other benefits will be enough to convince Turkey to abandon its Turkish Cypriots. That is the summary of his strategy.
Indeed, should we try to keep a window of opportunity open for a Cyprus settlement? Or should we see the reality and move to Plan B: consolidating the Turkish Cypriot state and forcing Greek Cypriots to agree to state-to-state talks for a Cyprus confederation or for a velvet divorce?