A poisonous insight into the Cyprus talks

A poisonous insight into the Cyprus talks

Was it indeed an effort aimed at arresting the decline in the share of his Movement for Social Democracy’s (EDEK) votes or was he really concerned about the Cyprus talks process? For whatever reason, EDEK leader Marinos Sizopoulos initiated something far bigger than he might have aimed to with his decision to disclose confidential Greek Cypriot National Council meeting minutes containing discussions on the Cyprus talks.

There are of course good and bad aspects of every move. On the good side, what Sizopoulos did allowed people to get some first-hand information for the first time in many months about the serious, fallacious tales of progress in the Cyprus talks. It also helped to explain to the international community how greedy and carnivorous the political animal in the Greek Cypriot sector of the island has always been. On the bad side of the move, on the other hand, I am afraid a very important source of leakage of news on not only the Cyprus talks but regarding many important developments on the Greek Cypriot side might now be stifled. Though nothing can be left secret under the hot Cyprus sun and there have always been some other back channels for Greek Cypriot politics which let people learn of the issues in the context it wanted, monthly meetings of the National Council were indeed a constant and reliable outlet. Particularly at times, like nowadays, when political leaders are mum and secondary figures either cannot talk or know little of substance.

In Greek Cyprus many commentators underlined Sizopoulos’ revelations were an issue for Greek Cypriots, a problem for Greek Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiades, but none of the business of Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı. They just could not understand, perhaps, how big a Pandora’s Box Sizopoulos opened in the north with his words as well.

Indeed, talking to newsmen in London during the weekend, Sizopoulos pointed out the same thing: With his rather strong reaction to the revelations – when the Greek Cypriot presidency carefully avoided talking on the substance and only focused on the violation of the confidentiality of the discussions at the advisory National Council – Akıncı indeed confirmed that Sizopoulos did not concoct anything, just let it go.

But, how could there be four types of citizenships with different rights in a federal Cyprus, if there will ever be one? Has there ever been any such thing anywhere in the world? The citizens divided into four different classes: 

1 - Those who have citizenship of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot constituent state and would have all their rights safeguarded; 

2 - Greek Cypriots who wished to live under the administration of the Turkish Cypriot constituent state, would take constituent citizenship from there and would have the right to vote in local authority elections and European Parliament elections – but not parliamentary or presidential elections; 

3 - Permanent residents without citizenship in the constituent state would only have the right to vote for municipal administrations; and 

4 - Those who live in one constituent state but would vote in the other.

How would Akıncı, a socialist, explain to his people without hurting his image that he agreed to four classes of citizenship in order to convince Anastasiades that after a settlement some 114,000 mainland settlers would continue to live in a northern Turkish Cypriot constituent state of the “federal Cyprus” as third class citizens – those who would have permanent residency but voting rights limited to local governance?

Meanwhile, in Sizopoulos’ disclosures there was no word – because it is not yet agreed to – on the tenure and probable rotation of the presidency, the claim that the upper house of the senate would be comprised of 40 members, 20 senators from each community, enraged Greek Cypriot nationalists but was welcome news for Turkish Cypriots. Similarly, the disclosure that the two leaders have agreed on a five-member constitutional or higher court, two members from each communities and a fifth member appointed by the president from a pool of foreign judges (with the exception of those from Greece, Turkey and Britain, the three guarantor powers) was yet another indication of Greek Cypriot acceptance of the “equality of the constituent states” demand from Turkish Cypriots. 

On the very problematic property issue, a three-member commission (one member from each community and a third from a third nation, the chair) would be established. That commission would make decisions based on set criteria on who would be prioritized – the pre-1974 owner or the current user. While this property commission might create some headaches for Akıncı, the “public service commission” Sizopoulos also revealed to the public was a bonus. The commission would be comprised of six members, three from each community, while as for the top executives of federal governance, there was reported to be an agreement that they would be appointed on a one Turk for every two Greeks ratio.

All these indeed point at something totally different than what Sizopoulos might have indeed aimed at achieving. He probably wanted to torpedo the process and that was what he was accused for by both Akıncı and Anastasiades. Yet, though perhaps poisonous, Sizopoulos’ revelations provided room for real discussions on both sides of the Cyprus divide with some substantive details for the first time since the process resumed last May. After all, if these two peoples will be the final decision makers in separate referenda, the disclosures indeed served a purpose.