Breakthrough on Cyprus

Breakthrough on Cyprus

With American high caliber persuasive intervention, Turkey willing to play a last round of Cyprus gamble and in the Greek Cypriot side cards of coalition game redistributed, a breakthrough came in Cyprus peacemaking. Was it not expected? It was expected but not so fast.

Interesting enough somehow the political actors in both northern Turkish Cypriot and in southern Greek Cypriot sectors were readjusted or brought to the 2003 line, with minor adjustments. In 2003 in northern Cyprus, there was a conservative president, a socialist prime minister and a two-way left-right coalition government. Very much like what we have in the north now. In 2003 in southern Cyprus, there was a socialist president with a government comprised of socialists and a bunch of left-right anti-settlement parties. Now we have a conservative president having a coalition government comprised of almost the same bunch of anti-settlement parties. In the 2003-2004 period socialist Demetris Christofias was “saved” from his nasty partners with Glafkos Clerides-supported Nikos Anastasiades and his DISI. Now, with his coalition partners becoming a liability, Anastasiades is apparently progressing on the American-brokered peace diplomacy with the support of the socialist AKEL.

In the north there is again a conservative president and a socialist premier with a center-right coalition partner. Anyhow, Turkish Cypriot people appear to be still supporting the peace process and if – as the two leaders agreed to reemphasize after Tuesday’s meeting in a joint statement – a deal ist put to simultaneous referenda of the two peoples, there will be a comfortable yes once again. Would Greek Cypriots change their opinion and say yes this time?

Tuesday’s resumption of the talks came after more than four months of intense diplomacy on an eight-paragraph joint statement providing a framework for the talks. One could say if an eight-paragraph statement took four months to negotiate and agree upon, how long would it take to finish a peace agreement to be submitted to simultaneous referenda for the approval of two peoples of Cyprus? Obviously the process ahead will be a very difficult one. The draft is of course missing from certain aspects. There was no reference in it to the fate of the 1960 security system providing Turkey, along with Greece and Britain guarantor powers. Continuation of guarantees was a key demand of Turkish Cypriots. On the other hand the draft included far more advanced benefits for Turkish Cypriots than any other statement issued during the Mehmet Ali Talat–Demetris Christofias period.

While rejecting to continue talks from where they were left by his predecessor Anastasiades aimed at getting rid of cross voting, rotation of presidency and such “concessions” of the Christofias period. His coalition partners, on the other hand, had forced him to abandon his “loose federation” approach and instead adopt a “unitary state with two communities” position. In the joint statement if not a loose one the target of the talks definitely described as creating a federation with “two equal constituent states.”

For the Turkish Cypriot side while guarantee system was not referred to at all (that does not mean it was given up) with the joint statement Greek Cypriots will be accepting for the first time that apart united Cyprus citizenship “all citizens of the United Cyprus shall also be citizens of either” two constituent states. That is after a settlement there will be a Turkish Cypriot state retaining residual sovereign powers. Particularly paragraph four of the joint statement underlines “parthenogenesis” or virgin birth by stressing “The united Cyprus federation shall result from the settlement” and thus will not be a succession of either two current entities on the island.

What’s achieved is just a joint statement, not a Cyprus resolution, but it indeed is a success ushering Cyprus to the prospect of resolution. Also, the return of Kudred Özersay as “authorized negotiator” without giving up his civil clean politics campaign indeed is giving hope.