British plan needs to be examined

British plan needs to be examined

Friends in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) have reported about a written British plan for a Cyprus settlement. Yet, they admit that a verbal presentation was made during the meeting between President Ersin Tatar and U.K. Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs Dominic Raab. Written or verbal, would that make a difference? The much-discussed “Guterres points” were verbal as well. Well, to this day there are two different contradictory versions of the “Guterres points” but on the general outline of it, there is clarity.

The British plan is not something to be wholeheartedly embraced. However, attention must be given even though there might be an allergy emanating from the not-so-good reputation of the British amongst the Turkish and Greek Cypriots. Probably the most important aspect of the British plan, apart from calling the constituent entities with an obscure “Communal states” terminology, is the fact that deep in it rather than a federal resolution, a confederation of two Cypriot states united in the European Union, or in foreign representation, is foreseen. Yet, if the two “communal states” of the future Cyprus confederation, or whatever it might be called, will have sovereignty to sign bilateral agreements in the economy, security as well as foreign policy areas, engage in international sports or education and health arrangements, then what would be the powers of the central confederate government? On the other hand, if such undertakings of the communal states will not compromise existing or new agreements or policy decisions of the central government or will be considered inferior if there is a contradiction with the central government judicial or political framework, the animal that might be created with the plan cannot be an effective federation, like the short-lived 1960 republic, but a disguised unitary state.

Yet, if there will be a principle, as is reportedly underlined in Article 5, that irrespective of their nature if in international affairs or EU affairs a consensus cannot be reached between any communal state and the central government, the new Cyprus state will abstain or shun signing and assuming responsibility on that particular issue. That might be a contentious issue as the Greek Cypriots will most likely say that under such regulation effectiveness in governance might be compromised. On the other hand, as Makarios did in joining the Non-Aligned Movement despite Turkish Cypriot opposition – or as Greeks did in joining the EU – unilateral action by the Greek Cypriots might land a settlement in a crisis.

The most contentious article is the sixth article of the alleged plan that calls for a rapid withdrawal of Turkish troops immediately after a deal, abrogation of Turkey’s unilateral intervention right and termination of the guarantor status of Turkey, along with Greece and Britain, on the 10th anniversary of a resolution. Also on the 10th anniversary of the resolution, Turkey will completely withdraw all its troops from the island. This is not something that either Turkey or the Turkish Cypriot state can agree on under any arrangement. On the contrary, not only Turkey’s continued guarantor status and military presence – even though it might be reduced – should be in any deal, Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side demand Turkey to be given EU-member rights limited to Cyprus if there ever be a settlement that included EU membership.

Territorial arrangements and property issues that were covered in the 7th and 8th articles of the British plan are more or less very much like the previous Annan Plan coupled with some elaborate defeatist compromises made by former Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı during the Crans-Montana process.

Yet by expecting the Turkish Cypriots to go down to a level of 29.2 percent or 28.2 percent in territory from the current 35 percent cannot be plausible for any Turkish Cypriot or Turkish leader. Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades must be very sorry that in hopes of continuing his gold passports and other corrupt privileges turned down a deal, very poisonous for the Turkish Cypriots, at Crans Montana in July 2007. Many people are grateful for his intransigence.