Blame game in Cyprus

Blame game in Cyprus

Commenting on the long expected and highly anticipated collapse of the Cyprus talks process, Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı placed the blame on the shoulders of his Greek Cypriot counterpart Nikos Anastasiades. After, Anastasiades shot back with an equally blunt statement, claiming it was Akıncı who objected the modality of the talks and landed the process in a deadlock.

“The international community must see and voice discontent with the wrong attitudes of the Greek Cypriot leader that obstructed progress. It should not be only us to talk about this reality. In all our contacts we see that this [uncompromising stance] was understood by everyone. It is obvious that the preconditions put forward by the Greek Cypriot side cannot take us to a settlement,” Akıncı said. Anastasiades refused that he put forward preconditions, re-expressed readiness to attend a Geneva conference to finish of the property, territory and guarantees chapters and after that to move on to other headings.

The blame game, a much accustomed traditional final game of each and every Cyprus exercise since the first talk in Beirut in 1968, cannot achieve anything other than a sense of self-satisfaction for those in executive positions. Obviously, Greek Cypriots are concerned that if the international community realizes they never ever wanted a settlement on the island and their entire aim has been to frustrate Turkish Cypriots and force them to agree to become a patch up to the Cyprus Republic as a “peculiar minority,” perhaps the world might consider elevating the status of the Turkish Cypriot state. And that has always been the fundamental aim of the Turkish Cypriots: to show the international community that despite their earnest efforts, the exercise failed because of uncompromising and antagonistic approaches by the Greek Cypriots.

Would it matter to say, as former Greek Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Rolandis wisely put it many times over the past decade, that each time it was always the Greek Cypriot side that killed and buried prospects of resolution on Cyprus. Put aside all, in 1973 it was Archbishop Makarios who vetoed a deal reached between Rauf Denktaş and Glafkos Clerides, giving Turkish Cypriots nothing but some municipal rights and continuation intact of the 1960 guarantee system. Makarios rejected the deal at the time, saying he would not agree to any settlement that included the continuation of the guarantee system and thus Turkey’s guarantor status. In April 2004, just a week before Greek Cypriot unilateral EU accession, Greek Cypriots flatly rejected a U.N.-sponsored peace plan among many other reasons on grounds there were not sufficient clarity to when Turkish troops would all leave the island. Now, the almost two-year effort failed once again over the Greek Cypriot greed to solve the property, territory and security chapters of the Cyprus problem without committing themselves to power-sharing with Turkish Cypriots on the basis of political equality.

Excluding the so-called “Unite Cyprus Now” at the Ledra Gate, no one is left on the island who believes there might be a prospect to solve the Cyprus problem this summer. Anyhow, U.N. special envoy Espen Barth Eide gave up his shuttle diplomacy, met with ambassadors of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, and left the island. Though he did not make any statement before leaving the island, abandoning the shuttle diplomacy aimed at establishing a basis for a new and last round of Geneva talks underlined the deep frustration he and the process landed in.

It was wrong for Akıncı to offer a territorial adjustments map, bringing down the Turkish territory from the current 36 percent to 28.2 percent without an agreement on power sharing and other headings. The map, with the Greek Cypriot map reducing the Turkish territory by one more percentage point, was locked in the U.N., but the extra mile was walked and the Greek Cypriot leader expected Akıncı to walk a few more miles before he could consider talking on political equality, effective participation in governance, rotation of presidency and such matters. Indeed, Akıncı walked another extra mile, when for the first time ever he agreed to consider a revision of the guarantee scheme, though in repeated public opinion polls the Turkish Cypriot people placed Turkish guarantee on the top of its “absolute requirements” list for a Cyprus deal. Thus, perhaps in a way, but being so defeatist and so generous in making compromises, Akıncı might have provoked Anastasiades to expect more, and more before he could walk an inch on any area.

Now, Cyprus will be entering an explosive period. Within weeks, the Greek Cypriot side plans to undertake drilling in plot 11. Turkey and Turkish Cypriots have long been warning that such activity would lead to consequences. What if some unwanted military action is undertaken? Thus, Greek Cypriots must take into account that an end of the talks process might be a factor that might have serious impacts on badly needed foreign investments. And, though it is not expected so far but miraculously Eide comes up with a statement listing why his efforts failed and places the blame squarely on the adamant attitude of Anastasiades. Will Turkey start pursuing the so-called and faraway ambiguous Plan B? 

Otherwise, efforts will focus on U.N. launching a new Cyprus exercise after the February 2018 Greek Cypriot presidential vote.