Were federation prospects dead in Cyprus? Can it be claimed that whatever may be done the two people of the island cannot be geared towards creating a working and sustainable federal resolution? If all prospects of a federal solution were exhausted, what kind of a settlement might be possible in Cyprus?
The collapse of the latest two years of Cyprus settlement efforts at the multilateral Crans-Montana summit brought together with it the demise of the almost 50-year-old target of establishing a bi-zonal and bi-communal federal settlement. Greek Cypriots don’t buy this argument but that is the conviction in Ankara, as well as in the office of Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı. What is the position of the international community, particularly the United Nations, the Americans, and the British? It was seen and recorded at Crans-Montana that Greek Cypriots are not ready, and will not be ready any time soon, to a power sharing deal with the Turkish Cypriot people.
Both Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiades’s and Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias’s remarks during closed-door sessions and public discussions that they were unable to get the Greek Cypriot people to vote “Yes” to a rotation of presidency entailing a Turkish Cypriot alternately assuming presidency were indeed confessions to why they have been objecting a federal resolution.
The “zero soldiers, zero guarantees” rhetoric of the Nikos duo at Crans-Montana was nothing further than an effort to cover up their objection to a federal power sharing scheme with Turkish Cypriots. Indeed, back in 2004, when the then Annan Plan–the UN-sponsored peace plan–was put to twin referenda on April 24, Greek Cypriots did not reject just a settlement draft, but indeed declared their disinterest in a federal resolution. Unfortunately, the then Turkish Cypriot leadership and international community wanted to disregard that reality and another 12 years were lost. Almost 50 years after the 1968 start of the intercommunal talks and 41 years after the establishment of a bi-zonal and bi-communal federal republic was set as the official target of the talks in 1977, time must be up for making a new assessment if the Greek Cypriots declared their “oxi” or “no” position to a federation each time talks neared a resolution or a plan was up for vote.
What might be the prospects now? Of course, one alternative is to rehash the Cyprus Republic, an option Greek Cypriots would love to see happen. Turkish Cypriots agreeing to return to the Cyprus Republic roof with some minority rights has been the dream of Greek Cypriots. But, to which Cyprus Republic? The effective federation that was created in 1960 by the two people of the island with Turkey, Greece, and Britain as guarantor powers? Or, the one Greek Cypriots overtook in 1963-64 with use of force, a massive campaign aimed at annihilating Turkish Cypriots and since then, unilaterally changed the constitution and character of the state–contrary to the founding agreements and the original charter–into a Hellenic state?
Obviously, such an option cannot be in the cards as neither Turkish Cypriots would agree to return to pre-1974 conditions, nor Greek Cypriots would agree to give up their claim of being the sole owners of the entire island.
Did not the Americans, British or even the Russians, Chinese and the other international game setters know all these? If they knew, what might have been the value of an evaluation at Crans-Montana if the world vividly saw the collapse of talks because of Greek and Greek Cypriot refusal of a power sharing deal including the rotation of presidency and barefacedly blaming Turkey’s refusal to give up its guarantor status and withdrawal of its soldiers from the island?
Unfortunately at the Crans-Montana talks, Turkey agreed to a massive immediate withdrawal of its troops after a settlement and to renegotiate the future of the guarantee scheme and its remaining 650 soldiers on the island. It was so unfortunate for Anastasiades, but after all these details started to leak out, he started to have difficulty in explaining why indeed he obstructed a deal at Crans-Montana.
The only other option for a Cyprus deal might indeed be the option for two states in the European Union, which indeed would be an effective confederation as all Cypriots would enjoy the so-called four freedoms. There would be no guarantor status for Turkey, neither would there be any troops in the Greek Cypriot state and the accord with Turkey and Turkish military presence would only be the problem of the Turkish Cypriot state.
As was said in a recent Cyprus Mail article, perhaps the “time has come to think of the unthinkable” and walk the road of a real and sustainable resolution of the Cyprus problem in a manner that might turn the island into a rich heaven on earth, as a deal would best help the utilization of the hydrocarbon prospects as well.