Time for a Cyprus fix…
Is it because of frustration produced by decades of futile efforts? Or was it because the present Turkish government considers Cyprus to be an impediment to its larger plans? Ankara believes it has come to a junction on the Cyprus issue. People dealing with the intractable problem say the time has come for the Cyprus problem to become history “this way or the other”.
Ankara coming to such a point is becoming all the more important realizing the readiness to pay whatever the cost of resolution might be. Can this be taken as surrender or readiness to accept “any resolution” at “any cost?” No, on the contrary, as was reflected in letters from Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu to the UN secretary-general, Greece and the permanent five of the Security Council, Turkey wants “any settlement” that would be reached through compromise by the two peoples of the island. Naturally, settlement might be a federal one as well as a two-state one, provided it is a product of compromise between Turkish and Greek Cypriots.
This was the first time a Turkish foreign minister referred in writing to a possibility of resolution to the almost half century long Cyprus problem producing two Cypriot states. If I were a Greek or Greek Cypriot politician I would take this very seriously rather than hiding behind lofty statements that such a development would be very costly to Ankara. Without calculating the cost and without deciding how that cost would be undertaken Turkey would not put such an option in writing. Got it?
Like it or not the pro-resolution stance of Turkey is not a coincidental phenomenon. Like the Kurdish resolution drive at the roots of this push lies the desire of the current political elite and the absolute ruler a strong desire to become a regional game setter if not a bigger one. For such a role Kurdish issue and the Cyprus problem are two main impediments that must be erased this way or the other. People must perceive any resolution as the best for their interests; that’s the limit, of course, as it has to be even in pseudo democracies like Turkey.
The gassy developments offshore Cyprus might have played a role in making a resolution more urgent than ever. But, like the Syria civil war, such developments are just circumstantial issues with an impact on Turkey’s decision making but policy decisions have long been made.
Greek Cypriots, for example, should decide. Do they want to maintain the status quo? If they want to keep that they should better know that one community posing as the government of the entire island and the other as a community demanding some additional rights from that government is no longer a valid currency Turkey can accept. If Greek Cypriots want to have a state of their own, it is natural that Turkish Cypriots should have a state of their own. Unlike yesterday, today’s Turkey is capable of making such an arrangement work. No one should try to hide behind two advisory UN resolutions.
If Greek Cypriots want a federation, then they must be prepared for a comprehensive process with time limits. Open ended talks proved to be useless. Is it not a tragicomedy for the new Greek Cypriot leader to offer May 29 as a “social dinner” date with his Turkish counterpart? Does he not have dinner every night? Why to this day has he delayed appointing a chief negotiator?
UN envoy Alexander Downer asked Ankara to show understanding to crisis-stricken Anastasiades. If Greek Cypriots play for time when they are strong and stay away from talks when they are weak, when they are going to talk?