A map for a map

A map for a map

Shall we sneak a look at the Cyprus negotiating table?

At the latest meeting between the two negotiators this week, as well as at the last meeting between the two leaders, the Greek Cypriot side started pressing Turkish Cypriots to open their cards regarding particularly property, territory and guarantee aspects of the process, while parting from the established convergences in the power sharing chapter.

Irrespective of how strongly it might be defended that property, refugees and such issues are “by-products” of the real problem, the Greek Cypriot psychological inability to accept power sharing with Turkish Cypriots, these problems are of course very important and have a bearing effect on the outcome of the entire process. Yet, if the entire process is taken down to property, refugees and territory issues, ignoring the fundamental demands of the Turkish Cypriot side that constitute the heart of the Cyprus problem, then I can say with full confidence that this problem, which has already exhausted 50 years, will not be resolved in the next 50 either.

In the last round of talks, while the Turkish Cypriot side placed a glossy proposal on the table regarding the property issue, suggesting more or less an Annan Plan style resolution, which was centered around finishing the problem as quickly as possible and preventing the property issue from holding any settlement hostage for many decades. That is, the Turkish side, in a way, offered a mixture of “exchange, reinstitution and global compensation.”

The Greek Cypriot side, on the other hand, has been demanding talks be centered on property and territory issues, first stressing without seeing the Turkish proposal on the property issue and the territory map, it would not move an inch in any other area. Anyone with some brains would understand that whatever might be offered in any area but territory can only be intellectual exercise as “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed” remains an ultimate principle. However, once a figure, a ratio is expressed or a map is put on the table, that’s the end of it. Even if that round of talks could not produce results, the map and ratio continues haunting the party that put them forward. Was it not that that happened with the “29-plus %” late Rauf Denktaş used during the Boutros Boutros Ghali time? That ratio is still a pain in the neck for Turkish Cypriots.

Now Greek Cypriots say Turks want to discuss everything but territory, while Turkish Cypriots are encountering them with a “Map for a road map” proposal. What’s that? If he really wants to see a map placed on the table by Turkish Cypriots, he should abandon his “no time pressure” approach and place a roadmap on the table for the talks.

If indeed Greek Cypriots are interested in a deal and so obsessed with discussing the territorial aspect before all other outstanding issues are resolved, should not they place on the table a roadmap of how and when this process could be carried to twin referenda? Was not that what the U.N. secretary-general told the two sides? If they want to see a map, they must produce a roadmap.

Obviously, the demand to bilaterally discuss a multilateral issue, that is the guarantees matter, cannot be a sane demand. The guarantees issue concerns not only the two sides on the island, but also Britain, Greece and Turkey. When and if talks progress toward a final resolution, as was the case at Burgenstock during the Annan Plan period, a five-party conference – with perhaps the EU, Americans and others wishing to sit on the sidelines as observers – should convene and decide about that thorny subject. Naturally, if Greek Cypriots don’t want a continuation of the Turkish guarantee and right to intervene, they must convince Turkish Cypriots why they make such demands if they have no intention to repeat the 1963-1974 genocidal practices.

The latest round of talks and the crisis atmosphere at the negotiations table proved once again that as long as these two peoples do not sincerely wish to get married, pressure to place them under one roof can bring only more agony.

Why doesn’t the world also concede that a two-state resolution in the EU might be the best resolution possible for Cyprus?