A clever enemy better than a foolish ally

A clever enemy better than a foolish ally

Why do Greek Cypriots keep popping up with an offer they are damn sure would not even be considered by the Turkish side? Why do they insist on such a non-starter position? Since 1975 they were told repeatedly and it has become a UN parameter that not only “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed” but that the aim is to find a “comprehensive settlement”.

Confidence building measures (CBMs) provided some improvements by way of the replacement of soldiers with unarmed police along the Nicosia Green Line or buffer zone and helped to prevent “accidental deaths”, but apart from that the measures never attained full success in Cyprus. Most of the time Greek Cypriots wanted more and all such CBM packages were shelved in historical archives along with other failed Cyprus proposals.

Sayings are shortcuts. I love them. “A clever enemy is better than a foolish ally” is one. Greek Cypriot chief negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis came up last week with a stillborn offer. He must have been aware that it was a stillborn, non-starter offer but anyhow since the aim was to divert “start talks” heat to something else, he “re-served” without even heating the old dish. I lost count but his offer was nothing but a rehash of a cunning approach: allow the Greek Cypriot resettlement of Varosha (a once sprawling tourist resort city which has been a ghost town since the 1974 Turkish intervention) under a transitional UN administration. Start implementation of the additional protocol to the Ankara Agreement that established a customs union deal with the EU and enhance it to cover all new members, including Greek Cypriots - in return for what? The generous Greek Cypriots would allow Turkish Cypriots use of Famagusta port in northern Cyprus to be able to trade with EU countries (only). In exchange Greek Cypriots would no longer veto the start of accession talks in eight chapters that they have been holding hostage for so many years. Is this not a repeat of the cliché “Give us everything we want without us doing almost anything” approach once again?

Turkish Cypriots agreed to such CBM proposals at least four times in the past. Most lately, after Greek Cypriots killed the so-called Annan peace plan in the 2004 referendum, with Belgian-led, and later Finnish-led, presidencies trying to rehash the process through such CBM packages. Turkish Cypriots said “Yes” in both cases and Greek Cypriots pretended as if they would say yes - very much like they did during the Annan plan time – but when it came to deliver they insisted on their so accustomed “Oxi” (No).

Even as it was reserved by Mavroyiannis the package is deficient. Irrespective of what might be handed to the Greek Cypriots, if opening of the Turkish Cypriot Ercan (Timbu) Airport to international aviation and Famagusta Port opening to international trade are not included, no such package can be considered acceptable for the Turkish Cypriot people.

Don’t Greek Cypriots know all these before Mavroyiannis makes his “generous offer” to Turkey and Turkish Cypriots? Surely he knew it because he has been a veteran diplomat dealing with the Cyprus issue for so long. Why then has he been trying to waste time with such oddities? The answer is obvious and indeed demonstrates why a resolution cannot be reached on the island without Greek Cypriots changing their mindset. Nowadays the international community is pressuring for the resumption of talks soon and a deal as early as March next year. Mavroyianis and his boss, President Nikos Anastasiades, scrambling to find excuses and dumping the responsibility of failure on Turkey.