Akıncı surrenders

Akıncı surrenders

Since Mustafa Akıncı became president of Turkish Cyprus, and efforts to find a federal resolution to the Cyprus problem picked up momentum, each time the ship of talks hit the rocks, the Greek Cypriots managed to get something extra to refloat the vessel. Over time, Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiades has become an expert of caprice, and Akıncı, a perfect henpecked negotiator, giving in, though often with some delay, to every demand of his counterpart for the sake of saving the talks. 

So it happened again… A stern-faced Akıncı told the Turkish Cypriot Parliament last week that he has not agreed to the return of Güzelyurt (Morphou) to Greek Cypriots in exchange of the resumption of talks and a date for a five-party international conference. Yet he was unable to say anything in regards to the future of Güzelyurt, or how far he could walk on the concessions road once the grand give-and-take opens in early January at the third Mont Pelerin talks in Switzerland. 

Almost in the same hours, while talking with selected Greek Cypriot journalists for what was supposed to be a “background briefing,” senior aides of Anastasiades were nodding their heads to questions on whether the Greek Cypriot side had agreed to the resumption of talks, a third round of Mont Pelerin talks, and a subsequent international conference in exchange for getting back Morphou.

Still, when Cyprus talks collapsed in November in Mont Pelerin, the Turkish Cypriot side said they were against having further talks on the island on any of the outstanding headings, nor a new round of talks outside the island. Why? Akıncı and his team were saying the two sides have discussed all subjects. They exchanged views and achieved whatever convergences were possible. On those remaining issues and the thorny territorial aspects, a final grand give-and-take must be done at an international conference. 

Obviously the “Oxi” (NO) policy of Anastasiades, or his style of getting whatever he wanted without walking an inch in compromise, paid off once again with a defeatist Turkish Cypriot leader succumbing to all his conditions. Now talks resumed on the island. All Akıncı had said was over. There will be a new round of out-of-Cyprus summitry in Mont Pelerin. Akıncı said such exercises were now over and the two leaders should now sit in an international conference, which will be participated in0 by the three guarantor powers, Britain, Greece and Turkey. A new round of Mont Pelerin talks were scheduled for Jan. 9. Akıncı said he would not put any territorial adjustment map on the table. He now agreed to place his territorial adjustment map on the table on Jan. 11, a day before an international conference convenes.

The propaganda machine in northern Cyprus has been trying to present the outcome of the dinner as a major success, even when it became clear that Akıncı had served each and every demand of the Greek Cypriot side with full obedience.

Naturally, Akıncı believes he can fool everyone or make everyone accept that he can deceive everyone by creating a third category of territory. Can there be anything different in placing Güzelyurt and a large area of the Karpassia Peninsula under “federal territory” or the “Greek territory”? Either way, the Turkish Cypriot side would be compensating on those two areas and agreeing to take down the Turkish Cypriot territorial share to slightly over 28 percent. The current shoreline under Turkish Cypriot rule corresponds to 57 percent of the shoreline of the entire island. With a Güzelyurt compromise, that will go down considerably due to Anastasiades’ current demands. Greek Cypriots who voted “no” to the Annan Plan of 2004 will thus be getting more as the blueprint – overwhelmingly rejected by 75.8 percent of Greek Cypriots in 2004 – provided for the return of Güzelyurt and some villages around it, but no coast. 

The second Mont Pelerin round of talks collapsed over Anastasiades’ demand for the return of Güzelyurt, and Akıncı refusing to walk that road in full awareness that the people of Güzelyurt - who in 2004 voted overwhelmingly in support of a compromise deal despite knowing they would be uprooted again - would most likely vote against any such deal this time. Akıncı himself repeatedly declared that many things have changed since the Annan Plan era: Land has been developed, people have made new settlements, and thus handing over Güzelyurt to the Greek Cypriots is no longer an option. 

As it is becoming clear, the deal Akıncı has been negotiating with Anastasiades will be an improved Annan Plan for the Greek Cypriots – one aiming to shift their 2004 “no” vote to a “yes” vote – but a deficient Annan Plan for the Turkish Cypriots – with an assumption that whatever is put to vote, they will say “yes.” What’s more, the security compromises are yet to become clear, so this approach might not work at all.

If Turkey’s guarantees are preserved in a settlement, the Greek Cypriots might not buy it. If the settlement does not include Turkish guarantees, then the Turkish Cypriots will disown it. In addition, if there is a rotation of the presidency and some other figurative stipulations to demonstrate the political equality of the two peoples, the Greeks will not buy it as they remain alien to the notion of the “political equality” of the two peoples.

Even though Akıncı surrendered, a deal still remains aloof.