Cyprus deal can only be under EU roof

Cyprus deal can only be under EU roof

Since the 1968 start at a Beirut hotel between two great politicians — Rauf Denktaş and Glafkos Clerides — the Cyprus intercommunal talks successfully defied all efforts for a resolution. Is there any need to go to the times before independence from the British colonial rule in 1960? During those years, from a communal autonomous setup – at least for educational and religious issues as well as municipal affairs – to the McMillan Plan that called for independence in exchange of the British acquiring of sovereign bases, many formulae were considered.

The two communities on Cyprus maintained their maximalist priorities that they were unprepared to give up irrespective of how generous the offers were. Anything less than a formula that would open the door to unite the island with Greece (Enosis), and thus achieve an ages-old utopia were the pre-independence as well the post-independence obsession of the Greek Cypriot political figures. Headed by Denktaş, Turkish Cypriot politicians on the other hand were against a cantonal settlement or any deal that might render them into some sort of second-class citizens or minority status.

The 1960 republic was not a state that either of the two communities of the island embraced wholeheartedly. For the Greek Cypriots, it was created to serve as a stepping stone toward achieving the ultimate aim, Enosis, while for the Turkish Cypriots, they acquired partnership rights in the new state and at the same time managed to bring the Turkish military to the island — even though a handful of them, 650 Turkish soldiers and 900 Greek soldiers — as part of a trilateral guarantee scheme, that also included Britain.

With Greek Cypriots never accepting earnestly the Turkish Cypriot political equality and constantly demanding eradication of the effective federation elements of the 1960 constitution and Turkish Cypriots refusing any step back from rights obtained, the island was brought to the 1963 catastrophe. If there was a European Union umbrella for the bi-communal effective federation Cypriot state most probably the 1963-1974 tragedies unleashed on Turkish Cypriots by Greek Cypriots would not have taken place. Yet, it is not possible to rewind time and no one can forget the 1963-1974 tragedies, as well as of course how the 1974 Greek-engineered coup triggered the Turkish intervention and the pain unfolded.

Decades have passed since the 1974 intervention of Turkey. All efforts for a federal resolution failed. Was there any probability of success for those efforts? No. Unfortunately, no. Decades were wasted in vanity and false hopes as if there was political will either at the level of the two communities or at the level of the two “motherlands,” that is Turkey and Greece.

As long as Greek Cypriots continued offering Turkish Cypriots a setup that ignored their fundamental partnership rights based on full political equality of the two people of the island – the fundamental reason why the Cyprus problem started in the first place – whatever confidence building measures suggested or whatever magical resolution formulae were offered, there never ever was a probability to have a Cyprus deal. According to one account, since the British times Greek Cypriots rejected almost two dozens of resolution proposals. Any quick search on the internet will reveal to any naïve researcher that over the past two decades there were only at least four cases of the Turkish and Greek Cypriot delegations’ missed “golden opportunities” at very advanced stage of all very promising processes.

Now, the Cyprus talks process is frozen, even if the two sides appear playing some sort of political maneuvers to imitate as if they are trying to do something. As long as Turkish Cypriots refuse to accept to become second-class citizens, a minority in a Greek Cypriot state, agree to Turkey’s withdrawal not only militarily but also in regards to the tens of thousands of people settled in North Cyprus since 1974 and give up the 1960 guarantor status of Turkey, there will not be any acceptable deal for Greek Cypriots. As those very same conditions from the other end are the sine qua non of Turkish Cypriots for a resolution, insisting on negotiating a federal resolution is nothing but killing time. Any deal must include two realities: Firstly, the European Union should become the umbrella of any resolution on Cyprus and provide not only guarantees but also an effective integration of all the people of the island with the international community. Secondly, the two people of Cyprus cannot live together; they must get a velvet divorce. Thus, a negotiated two-state EU solution will be the only viable solution on Cyprus for now.

Cyprus issue, Greek Cyprus, Turkish Cyprus,