Espen Barth Eide, the U.N. secretary-general’s special Cyprus envoy, will soon be meeting the leaders of the two peoples of Cyprus, to explain that many years of United Nations-sponsored Cyprus talks may be leading to a humiliating failure, perhaps forcing an “embrace of the serpent.”
No one should expect Eide tell the story of the 2015 film by Ciro Guerra, the story of the relationship between Amazonian shaman Karamakate (the last survivor of his people) and two scientists who work together over 40 years to search the Amazon for a sacred healing plant. After all, hopes in the Cyprus talks, continuing since 1968, have almost been exhausted that there may one day be a federal Cyprus resolution allowing for the cohabitation of two politically equal co-founding people of the island, their embracing of each other, and their sharing of a federal government and state.
In his latest remarks, Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiades tried to explain that he was indeed looking for a just and lasting federal agreement, but the Turkish Cypriot side must understand that the expectations of the Greek Cypriot people must also be met in order to reach a sustainable settlement. What he said was of course a reworded expression of his earlier hypothesis that the minority and the majority cannot be the same, and that the minority Turkish Cypriots should accept that they can only have minority rights in a new partnership state. In fact, his statement was an explanation in a nutshell of why over the past half-century no Cyprus miracle has emerged from the intercommunal talks process: If one side is the “majority” governing element and the other side is perceived as a minority to be given some privileged minority rights, the talks could continue for many centuries without a deal being reached.
Neither the territory, airspace, economic interest zone, governance or natural resources of Cyprus can totally belong to either of the two peoples of the island alone. The two are partners who ought to share everything under a formula that they agree to, or until they go their separate ways. The Greek Cypriot side hijacked the government and the state in 1963-1964, violently forced out the Turkish partners from joint governance, and since then have been trying to force/convince former partners to agree to return to the now all-Greek Cypriot-administered Cyprus Republic in a patch-up arrangement granting some minority rights. That is not going to happen, irrespective of how long Anastasiades and his comrades in crime are able to drag their feet expecting that the Turkish Cypriots will eventually crumble and surrender, (while at the same time posing to the international community as if they are continuing efforts for a peace deal on the island).
The current format of the Cyprus talks has been unable to produce a settlement. With one side considering itself the owner of the island but posing as if it agrees to be an “equal” of the other side, can there be ever a just agreement that could last longer than three years? Don’t forget, the 1960 Cyprus republic deal barely lasted three years, because in the “Bloody Christmas” of 1963 the Greek Cypriots engaged in the so-called “Akritas” plan to exterminate the entire Turkish Cypriot community.
What new ideas might the U.N. secretary-general convey this week to the two leaders through his special envoy? Will those ideas help the Cyprus talks process remain afloat and avoid a serious crisis? Probably not. Anyhow, the island is doomed to slide into some very dangerous water soon, if not over the deadlock in the talks then because of monkey business in the hydrocarbon area.
I have no idea when former Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu will stand in court on charges of treason. But was it not treacherous to secretly, thanks to good offices of then U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, secretly meet in January 2015 with Anastasiades at Davos? Particularly if at that meeting Turkey agreed to remain silent - or at least not to publicly object - to the licensing of Block 6 in exchange for the Greek Cypriots engaging more enthusiastically in a resolution on the island (since when the Greek Cypriots have been repeatedly violating their pledge). Was it wrong for the Barbaros seismic ship to play the janissary band march over loudspeakers in response to the Greek Cypriot coastal guard, which was violating the Cyprus EEZ with its activity off the Karpass Peninsula?
Was it appropriate to play janissary music? Would it have been better if instead Barbaros had turned a deaf ear? Would it have been better to go to Block 6 and send a stronger message that the fait accompli will not change anything?
Can we find anywhere in Cyprus the secret healing plant to cure Greek-Turkish antagonism?