A new Cyprus policy shaping up

A new Cyprus policy shaping up

As federal resolution on Cyprus is becoming less popular, United Nations secretary-general special Cyprus adviser Jane Holl Lute is expected to make yet another trip to Cyprus in hopes of bringing an end to the impasse in the Cyprus peacemaking process. The U.N. diplomat is expected to meet with Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı on Sunday.

Lute is not expected to achieve any progress in her effort, though there are “ambush” fears in anti-federation segments of both Greek Cyprus and Turkish Cyprus people. While Turkish Cypriot President Akıncı has been reiterating his strong commitment for a negotiated federation deal with Greek Cypriots on the basis of political equality, Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiades has been stressing the need to have a federal solution with effective governance. The position of Anastasiades, however, demonstrates the absence of both a common ground and the goodwill required for a negotiated settlement.

There is some degree of confusion. Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiades has been floating around an ambiguous “loose federation” concept, still offering Turkish Cypriots some sort of a “privileged minority” status. Turkey has been stressing that since the collapse of the last round of talks in Crans Montana in July 2017, it became clear a federation is not a viable solution for Cyprus, new ideas must be sought. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has as well been voicing in the past year his conviction that time has come to consider fresh ideas on Cyprus. Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı, despite seeing that his view is a reflection of a handful of romantic socialists on both sides of the Cyprus divide and most people have long started talking about a two-state resolution, has been stressing that he can only talk federation with Greek Cypriots.

Eminent professors, former top diplomats, admirals, generals and journalists gathered at Nicosia’s Near East University at the Second International Conference on the Cyprus issue to discuss cornerstones of a new Cyprus policy strategy which they united in describing as two independent states with or without a European Union roof. Was the meeting a reflection of the Turkish government and the Turkish Cypriot conservative parties’ search for a new approach to the intractable Cyprus issue? As it was opened with a keynote speech by Çağatay Erciyes, a senior Turkish Foreign Ministry official dealing with energy issues as well as the Cyprus problem, obviously there was some degree of truth in the assumption that Ankara was in search of a new Cyprus policy. Otherwise no such high level participation would be possible.

In clear terms, Erciyes told the conference that Turkey was very open to new ideas for solving the longstanding Cyprus issue. He said Guterres has “acknowledged in his recent reports that new ideas are needed for settlement of the Cyprus issue” and underlined: “In this respect, we are ready to take up any new idea as long as the political equality of the Turkish Cypriots is secured and the security needs of the Turkish Cypriots are met.”

That was a rather clear and bold statement reflecting indeed the widening gap between the approaches of Ankara, Turkish Cypriot conservative parties and Akıncı. One after the other, almost all speakers of the unusually high profile conference stressed that after more than 50 years of futile negotiations to achieve a federal deal on Cyprus, it must be clear for everyone that Greek Cypriots would never agree to a power-sharing deal with Turkish Cypriots on the basis of political equality and effective participation in governance.

As was expected, Akıncı was not at the conference, nor was the socialist prime minister. Yet the closing dinner was hosted by Foreign Minister Kudret Özersay, reflecting the rift in the four-way government.