Cyprus anxiety over ‘fresh ideas’
Anxiety is brewing regarding the prospect of a Cyprus resolution. Why? Has there been any change regarding the fundamental positions of the two antagonists of the island?
Indeed, there are contradicting signs. On one hand, the leaders of Egypt, Greece and Greek Cyprus met in Crete for what was perceived in Turkey as a “gathering of evil elements.” On the other hand, although not currently, it has been revealed Greek Cypriots began floating the idea of an establishment of a two-state loose federation, or a confederation on Cyprus, as early as summer of 2017, when Cyprus talks collapsed at Crans-Montana.
According to some well-informed claims, Greek Cypriots even pondered to offer a formula of “two states in the European Union” to Turkish Cypriots and shared most of these ideas, not only among themselves in closed-door meetings but also with the United Nations secretary-general and representatives of some governments interested in a Cyprus deal. Also, it was claimed both at Crans-Montana talks and later at a recent April meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı that such proposals had clearly been discussed.
Interesting, is it not? If such ideas were floating around even as early as the Crans-Montana collapse of talks, why is Akıncı still insisting on a federal solution even though after the Swiss talks, it was he who also boldly declared prospects of a federal deal were dead and buried because of Greek Cypriot antagonism?
For a deal on Cyprus, there is obviously a need for fresh ideas and constructive proposals that take into consideration the realities on the island. Even if Greek Cypriots do not want to acknowledge the Turkish Cypriot state, or how the Cyprus problem evolved over their greed to achieve union with Greece (Enosis), the future can only be built on conceding reality.
On the other hand, security concerns of Greek Cypriots as well as Turkish Cypriots requires reconsideration, rewording or overhaul of the 1960 guarantee system. If one side cannot give up the guarantee system while the other cannot live with it, in a loose federation, a confederation or two-state resolution, roles of guarantors or the entire system must be reconsidered.
So far, disclosures in the Greek Cypriot media regarding “fresh ideas” the Nikos Anastasiades administration is promising, fall short of sincerity, as they had not been publicly disclosed. If and when these ideas are officially placed on the negotiation table, of course there will be a new and promising basis for talks. On that day, however, if the Turkish Cypriots still have a president like Akıncı in office, I am afraid any new initiative will also be a golden opportunity missed.
Could anyone continue to have confidence in the Turkish Cypriot president, if had known about the “loose federation” and such ideas of the Greek Cypriot leadership as early as the Crans-Montana talks? In the meantime, he has insisted on a federal resolution while almost everyone is aware of the sensitivities, divergent positions and complexities that have marred a resolution for over the past 60 years.