Last chance for Turkish Cypriot leader Akıncı
It is no secret that back in July 2017 Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiades told Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu during an unofficial meeting that he would have difficulty selling the idea of a federation with rotation of presidency and giving Turkish Cypriots effective share in governance, and once the presidential elections were over he could discuss a two-state solution, a loose federation or some other alternatives on Cyprus. Apparently Çavuşoğlu discussed the remarks of Anastasiades at his meeting with Andros Kyprianou, the leader of the Progressive Party of Working People (Akel), in Ankara on Nov. 22 last year. Well-placed Greek Cypriot sources admit as well that Anastasiades is taking up such possibilities with his guests as well.
What we learned during the visit of Çavuşoğlu to Northern Cyprus last Friday and Saturday was that Anastasiades made such remarks not only to Çavuşoğlu but also to Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı. When did he make such disclosures? In Crans Montana on July 7, 2017 night. Strange, isn’t it? Wasn’t it Akıncı who told reporters in October last year how he was shocked to hear Anastasiades suggesting a loose federation?
Apparently Akıncı fooled his government, parliament that authorized him to negotiate a settlement, and the Turkish Cypriot people by hiding a very important offer made by the Greek Cypriot leader. Worse, apparently somehow Akel was informed immediately after Crans Montana the collapse about the two-state solution in the EU and such “dangerous ideas” other than “federation” Anastasiades started to consider.
Furthermore, could it be the same Akıncı who was told by Anastasiades that after the February 2018 presidential elections he could discuss two states in the EU or a loose federation, and the one who told a press conference in December 2018 that he asked Anastasiades whether he wanted a two-state resolution and he rejected?
Is it not sad that even this journalist is hearing from confidants of Anastasiades that the Greek Cypriot leader has been complaining that he could not find anyone with a “liberal world view” who he could discuss with the resolution possibilities other than the federation idea?
Obviously, someone is not telling the truth. Or we might assume that a golden opportunity of resolution is slipping out of hands because of the federation obsession of Akıncı. Anastasiades will be in office until February 2023. There are already signs that he might even make history if he wins the 2023 race. Akıncı has barely one more year in office. In April 2020 Turkish Cypriots will be at the polling stations for presidential vote. For reelection Akıncı obviously needs to convince Turkish Cypriots that a federal resolution is still discernible. However, a lot has changed since he was elected three years ago when both the left and the right spectrums of Turkish Cypriot politics were in acute cacophony. Efforts are underway between the People’s Party and the Nationalist Unity Party to produce a joint candidate or at least declare before the elections a commitment to support whichever candidate makes the second vote. The Republican Turks’ Party has declared it will be in the race alone. Akıncı’s party has less than 10 percent of the vote. If he runs, Akıncı will need more than a miracle to make the second leg of the vote this time.
However, Akıncı can still make history if he drops his refusal to consider a two-state solution in the EU or loose federation options and engages himself in a process to force Anastasiades to take some more tangible steps. In such a move he would have Ankara’s full support besides a possibility of recuperating his lost domestic support.
Otherwise, if Greek Cypriots find some rich hydrocarbon beds, not only will there be an increased tension but more so the already deficient political will for a compromise resolution among Greek Cypriots will die all together and Turkish Cypriots will be condemned to an “as if state” and “as if people” status, as recently described by former Finance Minister Birikim Özgür.
Insisting on a federal solution is a dead-end road as long as there is allergy among Greek Cypriots to share power with Turkish Cypriot partners. In a two-state resolution in the EU, there will still be a requirement to resolve refugee issues, property and such matters, but at least there will not be such a killer problem.