Thoughts on a ‘social event’ in Cyprus
Days before a “social event” attended by the leaders of the two sides of Cyprus on April 16 evening, various segments of the Turkish Cypriot community developed a natural anxiety over what might emerge during the dinner. Even if both sides stressed repeatedly that it would be a social event and should not be considered in any way some sort of a resumption of the peace talks that failed last summer, it was obvious that there would be an insinuation on how the dialogue could indeed be relaunched. Days before a “social event” attended by the leaders of the two sides of Cyprus on April 16 evening, various segments of the Turkish Cypriot community developed a natural anxiety over what might emerge during the dinner. Even if both sides stressed repeatedly that it would be a social event and should not be considered in any way some sort of a resumption of the peace talks that failed last summer, it was obvious that there would be an insinuation on how the dialogue could indeed be relaunched.
This article was penned hours before the dinner. But there was mutual decision among Turkish Cypriots that Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiades desperately needed to leave an impression to the international community as though talks would resume soon. Not because he actually wanted the resumption of the talks, but rather to give an image of “normalization” and continue drawing interest from international oil and gas giants to the hydrocarbon resources in the exclusive economic zone of the island.
As long there is insincerity and the entire effort is not aimed at reaching a settlement but instead is there just to put on a play to attract foreign interest to the Cyprus hydrocarbon potential, a new round of talks that somehow resumed will not mean much.
The outcome of the “social event” will probably be clear by the time this article reaches readers. Will Anastasiades succeed to deceive Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı and make him agree to yet a new round of futile talks? We shall see. If Akıncı surrenders and agrees to a new round of talks he should perhaps keep the expectations of his people in mind. A friend has shared a list of those expectations:
1- After the last round of talks was thrown into an abyss by Anastasiades, the two sides have publicly declared that all compromises they placed on the table were withdrawn. Thus, new talks should not resume from where they were left, but should begin from scratch.
2- Unlike the previous open-ended talks, the new process must have a definite “closing date” and an extension should not be tolerated.
3- What will be the status of the Turkish Cypriots should Greek Cypriots drag their feet and the process collapses or if there is no deal when the agreed “closing date” comes? This must firmly be put on paper before the start of a new round of talks.
4- In the previous round, there were unthinkable concessions regarding Turkey having a guarantor status and the number of its troops in Cyprus. Neither Turkey’s guarantor status should be made subject to talks nor any concrete pledge be given regarding the military presence on Cyprus, as the number must be decided in view of both the situation on Cyprus and the security situation in the Middle East. After all, Cyprus is no less important for Turkey than Britain.
5- If there will ever be a “united” Turkish and Greek state in Cyprus rather than a two-state solution as the EU suggests, the two peoples must have full equality in all aspects. Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots must enjoy veto powers. Presidency must rotate between two members of a presidential council, all executive actions and Cabinet decisions must go into force with the co-signatures of the Turkish and Greek members of the presidential council.
6- Obviously, there cannot be a clause that says the Turkish Cypriot population should never exceed one-fifth of the Greek Cypriot community. That is a fascist and unacceptable clause that cannot be maintained.
7- If in a post-settlement Cyprus clashes between the two peoples are not wanted, principles of bi-zonality and bi-communality must be carefully respected. The number of people living in the other community’s zone must be limited to a maximum of 10 percent, while with a careful policy those involved in intercommunal violence in the past should not enjoy living in the territory of the other community.
8- To avoid future conflicts regarding property, this issue must be resolved through exchange and compensation and limited resettlement. Other alternatives should not be considered.