A Turco-Greek Schuman declaration

A Turco-Greek Schuman declaration

Recently, in an article for the Hürriyet Daily News, an eminent academic, activist, thought provoker and chairman of the Turkish Economy Policies Foundation (TEPAV), wrote an article titled “A Schuman Plan for Cyprus.” It was not the first time the idea came about. Germany’s “bridge building” efforts concerning the rising tensions in eastern Mediterranean between Turkey and Greece, France, Greek Cypriots and the rest have been brought to the forefront once again.

This idea of “resource or profit-sharing,” rather than squabbling and animosity, has created an atmosphere of interdependency to fight acute and shallow short term nationalist obsessions and to nourish an atmosphere of peace, which is very much in line with the long process of interdependency that the Schuman Declaration achieved in Europe. This issue has been off and on popping up in exchanges of many people involved in Turkish-Greek affairs or the Cyprus problem but has never ever been discussed so vigorously since a German thinktank revived it a while ago.

If European Coal and Steel Community, whose members would pool coal and steel production, was the birth certificate of the EU, can it be possible to follow that with one in the hydrocarbon resources and create a solid bond of interdependency between Turkey, Greece, Greek and Turkish Cypriots? Can’t the countries of the eastern Mediterranean (and the Aegean) establish a similar scheme to share the hydrocarbon resources, transform their perennial enmities into consolidated partnership and create the much-needed atmosphere of solidarity that might help them cut defense expenses and prosper together with uninterrupted peace?

It may sound like a joke taking into consideration the positions of Turkey, Greece, Greek Cyprus, Turkish Cyprus, and of course, some other relevant or totally irrelevant countries, such as France. Back in the 1980s and 1990s, Turkey offered similar schemes to Greece regarding the Aegean resources. A joint company might have been created for exploration, drilling and management of the Aegean resources. Greece always preferred to claim that because of its islands less than two kilometers off Turkey’s continental coast, the Aegean is a Greek sea and wanted to make Turkey a landlocked country. Similarly, now because of a tiny Kastellorizo island, just a stone’s throw away from the Turkish coast, the continental shelf and exclusive economic zone rights of Turkey are being compromised. It is not even worthy of a joke.

As early as 2009 and most lately just a few years ago, the Turkish Cypriot side offered to create a joint company or a U.N.-administered ad hoc committee to engage with the hydrocarbon resources off the eastern Mediterranean island.

After Turkish Cypriots were expelled with a genocidal campaign from the joint administration in 1963, recognition of the Greek Cypriot government in Cyprus in March 1964 as the legitimate government because of the “necessity clause” despite the bi-communality clauses of the Cyprus Constitution, has been an impediment since then to all settlement efforts. Since 1964, though they were legitimate partners in the sovereignty, the governance and land of the island under a seven to three ratio (seven to Greek Cypriots, three to Turkish Cypriots), Turkish Cypriots were not given their rights. All over the island and off the island in all natural resources, of course, under the 1960 accords, Turkish Cypriots have a 30 percent share. Furthermore, Turkey has its interests in the eastern Mediterranean emanating from its continental shelf and exclusive economic zone rights, which cannot be compromised by the exclusive economic zone of an island, which is Cyprus.

Now, there is a new situation in Cyprus. For the first time ever, a politician supporting in all clarity a two-state settlement has won the Turkish Cypriot presidency. More than 60 years of Cyprus talks have failed to provide the island a federal resolution simply because Greek Cypriots were never in favor. We are at a crossroads. The Turkish and Greek Cypriot peoples of Cyprus will either walk to a bright future finding ways of cooperation and achieving prosperity together that would make it easier to reconstitute fallen bonds, or see in all bitterness, the eventual consolidation of integration with Turkey it has been compelled to integrate because of international isolation.