A new exercise
“Social encounter” is the fashionable term nowadays for what used to be jargon for “non-meeting” or “non-paper” in classical diplomacy. If there is a potential problem for politicians or opponents or in this case, the two Cyprus leaders, in gathering around a table, call it a “social encounter.”
Establishing a bi-zonal and bi-communal Cyprus federation has long become a fairy tale, which has become clear for almost everyone but few die-hard opportunists and the defeatist Turkish Cypriot left. Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiades effectively killed this opportunity at the Crans-Montana five-party “high level meeting,” when he preferred to play the role of a stubborn drunkard, as he had been unable to grasp being offered everything he had demanded.
For the first time, Turkey agreed to withdraw almost all its troops from the island and negotiate the withdrawal of the rest of the (650) troops after some time. Turkey succumbed to demands for the end of its guarantor rights. Yet, Anastasiades could not understand and wanted everything put on the table in writing, while he would not agree to any compromise until the very end.
That was worse than horse-trading. The claim that the Crans-Montana process collapsed because of Turkey has become an argument only Anastasiades subscribes to. Including his domestic opponents and allies, the entire world blames him for being the culprit of a “golden opportunity” lost.
Anastasiades and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Mustafa Akıncı will be have a “social encounter” at the residence of the United Nations Cyprus Special Representative Elizabeth Spehar on the evening of April 16. It was painful for both leaders to “explain” their dinner encounter was just “a social event” and should not be considered in any way as the resumption of Cyprus talks.
Well said. Cyprus talks should not start before the proper ground is laid and a new target is agreed. If Greek Cypriots cannot accept sharing power, a rotation of presidency and treating Turkish Cypriots as equal co-founders of the Cyprus state and over fifty years have been spent without a minute’s success, insisting to continue to search for a federal resolution will be what Albert Einstein skillfully described as “madness.”
In the absence of the hydrocarbon issue, Greek Cypriots would not even think of continuing this process. They are happy and satisfied of being the sole legitimate government of the entire island, while Turkish Cypriots are shunned by the entire world but Turkey. However, they need a resolution now because Ankara has reminded them they cannot use everything the island offers to their own benefit and that they need to share with their Turkish Cypriot partners.
Last month’s ENI fiasco, due to Turkey’s Navtex and failure of efforts to bring Turkey and the United States at loggerheads, were all lessons in action for the Greek Cypriot leadership: Without sharing with Turkish Cypriots, there could be no hydrocarbon revenues.
Time is up to decide on a new, achievable and realistic target. This could be two states in the EU, with Turkey given EU-member rights limited to Cyprus or the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. There could be some other creative options but I am afraid no one will buy any form of resolution concept today, which might entail the togetherness of the two people under one government of any sort.
In the meantime, Turkish Cypriots must put their affairs in order, reform their state structure and try to be as self-sufficient as possible, while besides water from Anatolia, the island must be connected to the Turkish—and thus, European—electricity grid.
If the Greek Cypriot leadership wants to pretend as if it is negotiating a resolution with Turkish Cypriots and make the best use of the perception created in the world that talks have resumed by furthering unilateral hydrocarbon undertakings, even Akıncı cannot agree to that. It is now high time to concentrate on discussing something new, reasonable and achievable, which would be embraced by both people of the island.