Cypriot unity in the EU: Why not?
Public opinion polls conducted in northern and southern Cyprus over the past many decades demonstrate one key fact: Neither Turkish Cypriots nor Greek Cypriots consider a federal resolution as their first choice.
What’s even worse is that a federation is indeed a serious compromise on the first choice for both peoples. Is it a secret to anyone that Greek Cypriots have overwhelmingly demanded a unitary state where, as the bigger of the two peoples on the island, they will have the dominance, if not full control? The first choice of the Turkish Cypriots, on the other hand, is a two-state resolution; with Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots in full control of their respective states.
Indeed, as the International Crisis Group said in its latest Cyprus report a while ago (as it went further than the routine rhetoric of Cyprus peacemaking, several “leading” countries involved in diplomacy on Cyprus apparently ordered their diplomats to avoid discussing the report publicly), the creation of two Cyprus states, both members of the EU, might perhaps be considered as a Cyprus confederation in the EU. Would not, probably after a transition period, the acquis communitaire be applicable in full in the north as well? Even with derogations, two Cypriot states in EU might indeed become some sort of an “advanced federation.”
So long as Greek Cypriots cannot abandon their obsession with being the “sole sovereign nation” on the island and insist on branding Turkish Cypriots as “guests who did not go home after 500 years” or as a “minority” having some “inappropriate” demands, there will be no settlement. Even if a deal is imposed on the Greek Cypriots, it can last this time perhaps longer than the partnership state of 1960 they were reluctantly compelled to accept.
Similarly, so long as the Turkish Cypriots insist on not succumbing to Greek Cypriot dictates and agree to a deal that would give them some advanced minority rights, might it be possible to have a deal? Turkish Cypriots consider their political equality, partnership in territory and sovereignty on the island as their inalienable rights; those are all things Greek Cypriots are having difficulty in swallowing.
As if the Turkish, British, Greek, American and Russian dimensions were not enough, now Israeli interests and designs, as well as the prosperity offered by the hydrocarbon prospects, provide the salt and pepper to the existing tzatziki situation on the island.
Even though Cypriots – despite all their ethnic, linguistic, religious and other differences – are in full consensus that they do not want a federation, but a federation remains the only option if Cyprus is destined to have just one state. But why should Cyprus have one state only, particularly if even hard-line Greek Cypriot nationalists have started acknowledging that rather than having a Turkish president – in a rotation of the presidency system – for “their” state, they would prefer the continuation of the status quo, and could thus even agree to two separate states? Could Cypriots indeed make a deal of their own? Why should they continue federation talks if neither side wants such a difficult cohabitation system? Is it reasonable or rational at all to have such talks because the P5 believed that was best for Cyprus? Or, is there an international understanding to have a Cyprus non-settlement?
Perhaps a “bi-zonal, bi-communal federal settlement” target and the concept of “inter-communal talks under the auspices of the U.N. secretary-general” have become out of date and it is high time to start discussing a two-state solution. If the two peoples of Cyprus want to go their own ways, than why should they be compelled to talk about a federation? Because London or Washington wanted it so? Why should they not be able to talk about the terms of a velvet divorce?
Of at the end of the day, if both get into the EU, then there will not be permanent derogations or such hurdles either. Since Turkey’s guarantee will be valid only for the Turkish Cypriot state, Greek Cypriots would not need to worry about Turkey’s right to unilateral intervention either.
Two Cypriot states in EU: It’s an idea worth seriously considering.