A new era is opening
Long-awaited openings may soon become more pronounced. Although “recognition” is a source of obsession, or fear, for some, many steps can be taken in the not-too-distant future, other than political recognition, with Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Gambia and some other countries.
Azerbaijan, for example, may give the green light to direct flights with North Cyprus in the very near future and press the button for advanced economic ties. What could the developments in Varosha be aimed at? What might be the planning behind these important game-changing steps? Shall I first make an assessment of the positions of the sides?
North Cyprus: The federation is dead and buried. A two-state solution is the only way forward. Turkish Cypriot sovereignty should be recognized, or at least acknowledged. Confidence-building measures cannot include territorial concessions. Territory, map, security can be discussed within the framework of a comprehensive settlement. Turkey’s guarantor status and military presence on the island are red lines. Turkish citizens who have settled in Cyprus since 1974 are citizens of the Turkish Cypriot state.
Greek Cypriot part: The bi-zonal, bi-communal federation is the only goal. There is no solution until the Turkish military withdraws and the guarantor system ends. Varosha and Morphou must be returned to the Greek Cypriot settlement and control in a solution. Turkish settlers should return to Turkey, and the Turkish population should not exceed 25 percent.
Turkey: Full support for the Turkish Cypriot position. The solution can only be on the basis of two states. The presence of Turkish troops on the island and guarantorship must continue. Turkish citizens who have settled in Cyprus are citizens of the Turkish Cypriot state.
Greece: Full support for the Greek part. A two-state solution is unacceptable, outside of the U.N. parameters. Zero Turkish troops, zero guarantors in Cyprus.
England: Two sovereign communities like the Belgian-style federation. The two entities will acknowledge the existence of each other. The federal head of state will have symbolc powers while there will be two strong local governments. Lower the number of troops to symbolic levels and keep the guarantor system running for 10 years.
Considering these positions, there’s no way out.
Although the U.K. proposal may seem different, it is not actually the Belgian model, but it is in a way rehashing and updating the 1960 system. Such a settlement will likely end in crisis again in a short time. The British proposal is based on the thesis that federation is possible. Even if the head of state has symbolic powers, Turkish Cypriots can no longer give up their rotation of presidency demand. Since the Greek part will not accept sharing sovereignty or the notion of sovereign equals, as it has demonstrated steadily since 1964, this formula is unlikely to work.
If the ossified positions of the parties do not give hope, is a solution impossible? In my opinion, Turkey’s latest initiatives are based on a “game-changing” scenario. With what we can define as “calculated tensions,” it aims to push Greek Cypriots, Greece as well as the U.K. and the U.N. Security Council to explore “new ways to resolve,” or start to embrace the “two-state solution” idea as the only option that can be reached through negotiations on the island.
The Security Council’s condemnation of Turkey for the Varosha developments, the threats of EU sanctions and even the “isolation” veil Turkey might be imposed on might not be at all important considering Turkey’s probable overall perspective. What that might be? Could it be an “Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean package” approach?
A two-state solution in Cyprus (with confederation or other formulae, but certainly within the EU and providing Turkey with similar EU-member rights limited to the island) and a partnership system that will operate for common benefit, the riches of both the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean will create both lasting interdependence and lasting peace.