‘Our songs under moonlight’
Perhaps time has come to try to convince the two peoples of Cyprus that what the two leaders and negotiating teams have been discussing “discreetly” for the past few months might culminate in the establishment soon of a United Federal Cyprus. It was the first time since Mustafa Akıncı’s election as the Turkish Cypriot president and the resumption of talks with an invigorated speed that he heralded on the sidelines of the July 20, 1974, Turkish intervention anniversary that a “United Federal Cyprus” has become discernible.
Akıncı going further than rather empty “settlement within months” rhetoric and providing some details of the discussions on the core issues testified to the existence of the political will on both sides for a difficult and painful compromise settlement. Yet, in between the lines of his statement there was a confession that the thorniest issues are left to be decided upon later. That is of course a wise approach. How can the two leaders discuss the amount of territory the “two constituent federated states” will have? The moment they start such a discussion life will stop in northern Cyprus. Can anyone invest in property they may be compelled to abandon some time later? Talk is that “all Cypriots will decide freely wherever they would like to live.” If that is done, will it be possible to talk about the bi-zonality and bi-communality of the federal state to be established? Were those two terms not cornerstone principles of a resolution? If those two principles are to be adhered to and there will be a quota of Greek Cypriots residing in the Turkish Cypriot north, will Greek Cypriots agree to make that “derogation” become primary law of the EU through endorsement in all member parliaments? Otherwise, such quotas that contradict with EU norms will become obsolete within days when challenged in court.
Akıncı also disclosed that future of the 1960 guarantee system - under which Turkey, Britain and Greece are guarantor powers – will also be left to a later stage. Coupled with a recent statement attributed to his spokesman that the guarantee issue is “no longer an obsession of the Turkish Cypriot leadership,” it appears that Akıncı may have stepped into a mine field. Turkish Cypriot people will not agree in any way to an end to the guarantee system. Yet, as Greek Cypriots will not agree to the continuation of the guarantees, some creative formula ought to be found in that area. For example, a clause that the guarantee system will end when Turkey joins the EU might be acceptable for Turkish Cypriots. Will Greek Cypriots agree to it?
On the other hand, like the Greek Cypriot-murdered Annan Plan of 2004, the leaders have apparently agreed to a two-house legislature. In the lower house the two communities will be represented on a 7/3 ratio in favor of Greeks while at the senate the two federated states will have 5/5 representation. Rotation of presidency? No word on it for now. But, while the island will have no military, federal police will be composed of a 6/4 ratio.
It is understood from Akıncı’s revelations that Greek Cypriots have accepted “inner citizenships” of the two federated states. Furthermore, apparently they have agreed as well to the establishment of two federated states before a United Federal Cyprus state comes into being. Interesting! Even if they might still have the upper hand in a united federal state, will Greek Cypriots agree to give up for just a few minutes the Cyprus Republic and consent with a federated Greek Cypriot state?
What about mainland Turkish settlers or thousands of Egyptian, Russian or mainland Greeks accorded citizenship since 1964 unilaterally by the all-Greek governments contrary to the 1960 Cyprus Republic or “partnership state” constitution? Greek Cypriots, particularly the Church of Cyprus, have been stressing that except those married to Turkish Cypriots or who were born on Cyprus all settlers must pack and go after a settlement. Akıncı did not say a word on that issue but in similar remarks to the media Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiades was very clear: Settlers must go back to Anatolia.
Akıncı might be right. Perhaps what he disclosed is a fraction of what indeed has been agreed upon. Perhaps all skeptics are mistaken, within months a deal will be completed and by March 2016 the two peoples will go to twin referenda and vote on that deal.
The climate is improving on the island. Not only are the two leaders strolling through the old market area of Nicosia’s Greek and Turkish quarters, offering each other coffee and liquor or attending a theater play together, next week they will be the guests of honor at an open-air concert of a Greek Cypriot troupe in northern Cyprus…
On July 28 evening the celebrated “Kyprogenia” group will deliver a concert called “Our songs under moonlight” in Famagusta. Obviously, what’s important is not the concert itself alone; it is developing a mood of “togetherness,” which perhaps may help the two peoples of Cyprus overcome the psychological barriers in their minds.