Cyprus deal: Skidding continues

Cyprus deal: Skidding continues

As widely expected, the Cyprus peacemaking plane has crashed once again, devastating hopes that the Gordion knot-like power-sharing problem between the two peoples of the eastern Mediterranean island might have found finally its Alexander (Downer) this time and an Alexandrian solution.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with his special advisor on Cyprus, Alexander Downer, and telephoned the presidents of the two states of Cyprus. Then his office disclosed to the media that the secretary-general has given up on the idea of calling a multilateral or international conference on the Cyprus issue because there has not been sufficient progress in the talks.

Ban’s decision to abandon plans to stage an international conference at the end of April or early May to sort out the outstanding issues and provide a resolution to the almost 60-year-old problem between the ethnically, linguistically, culturally and religiously different peoples on the island was of course a frustrating but not surprising development. With Greek Cypriots so adamantly and recklessly opposing a compromise resolution or the prospect of sharing governance on the basis of political equality with Turkish Cypriots, the collapse of this latest process came as no surprise. Even if Turkish Cypriots had agreed to succumb to all Greek Cypriot demands, still at the end of the day there would not be a deal as Greek Cypriots would find a way to declare their “no,” just as they did eight years ago in the April 24, 2004, referendum on the U.N. peace plan. They just don’t want to have a common future with Turkish Cypriots.

If for the past 44 years all efforts to reach a Cyprus deal failed, perhaps time has come to change the base or foundations of the talks. It has been seen so many times that saying the two sides in Cyprus are participating in U.N.-brokered talks or talks under the good offices of the U.N. on the basis of equality is nothing other than an illusion to fool the Turks. Greek Cypriots are being treated as the “government of Cyprus” and Turkish Cypriots as a “minority demanding some rights” from that government. As long as that crooked situation is made to serve as the legs of the negotiating table, no result can be obtained from it.

For months the scholarly foreign minister, the ever-angry prime minister of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership have been warning that if there is no deal by July 1 (the start of the Greek Cypriot EU term presidency) the Turkish side would not continue the talks. They have been implying that a Plan B would be implemented. What is that Plan B? Well, that is ambiguous; it ranges from seeking international recognition with a new name to annexation by Turkey. But Turks still repeat the well-known dictum: Any form of a Cyprus resolution, even division, must come out of talks between the two peoples of Cyprus.

Turkey is silent, probably busy with Iraq or Syria developments. In northern Cyprus a shy President Derviş Eroğlu is murmuring that he cannot see further than the end of June. Mind you, the “No talks after July 1” rhetoric has already started to subside.

It appears there will soon be some further futile skidding.