Turkish side not ruling out confederation for Cyprus

Turkish side not ruling out confederation for Cyprus

The year 2021 will mark significant developments concerning international relations in the broader Mediterranean basin. Efforts to de-escalate tension between Turkey and Greece in the eastern Mediterranean and prospects for a new initiative to resolve the Cyprus problem are the two most important tracks to follow in the coming months.

The latter, however, if resolved, has the potential of ending the decades-old deadlock for the sake of both Turkish and Greek communities and pledging new opportunities for the relevant actors to benefit from the rich hydrocarbon reserves.

A meeting to be organized by the United Nations in March with the participation of the Greek and Turkish communities, the three guarantor countries -- Turkey, Greek and the United Kingdom - as well as a U.N. official under 5+1 format will help all the parties to see whether there is a mutual ground worth launching a new peace effort for.

The meeting ahead will be crucially important because of the fact that there is new leadership on the northern part of the island, which says that it will not discuss the reunification of Cyprus under the U.N.’s failed cliché, “bizonal, bicommunal federation.”

In an interview with prominent Turkish journalists over the weekend, President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Ersin Tatar reiterated that the Turkish side would not negotiate to establish a federation with the Greek Cyprus.

“There are already two deep-rooted states on the island. It’s not possible to merge and turn them into a federation,” Tatar said.

He repeated this position of the Turkish Cypriots to British Foreign Secretary Dominick Raab who visited the island last week.

Raab has called on all the parties to be flexible while expressing London’s will to “play a supporting role in helping the people of Cyprus, both sides of this dispute, to move things forward, to break the deadlock, and to find a settlement that works in everyone’s interest.”

More importantly, he underpinned “a permanent, enduring and lasting end to the dispute” but without repeating the U.N. parameters for a “bizonal, bicommunal federation.” Instead, he put an emphasis on “a reunited Cyprus,” meaning a solution that should yield a joint international representation of the island.

The Greek Cypriot leadership, however, is pretending that it is ready to resume peace talks with the Turkish Cypriots from the point they were suspended at Crans-Montana in mid-2017. But the bad news for them is that it has long been that the Greek Cypriots have lost their talent to convince the international community that they are genuinely after a fair and lasting solution to the problem. A solution based on a “bizonal, bicommunal federation” had been rejected by the Greek Cypriots both in 2004 and 2017. At Crans-Montana, the Turkish side had warned the Greek Cypriots and all other actors that it would no longer discuss the federation with the Greek Cypriots.

At the point we have arrived, the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey are frequently voicing the need for a two-state solution based on the principle of equal sovereignty of the two sides. There still seems to be room for compromising over a confederation in case if the two entities will be provided with equal sovereignty and necessary assurances.

Nor Turkey neither the Turkish Cypriots are totally ruling out this model. Tatar, in his interview, left the door open for negotiating the confederation but on the conditions that its sovereignty was approved and essential assurances were granted.

At the end of the day, that would result in a joint representation of the island in the international arena, with two independent constituent states linked with each other through confederal mechanisms.

Turkish Cyprus,