Cyprus talks: Frivolous litigation

Cyprus talks: Frivolous litigation

When they started at a Beirut hotel back in 1968, neither Greek Cypriot negotiator Glafkos Clerides nor Turkish Cypriot counterpart Rauf Denktaş probably thought the problem of power sharing between their two peoples would outlive them. The two great politicians of the eastern Mediterranean island have long since passed away, but the Cyprus problem still requires a magical touch to wind up with a mutually acceptable resolution.

On more than 25 different occasions, once in 1973, a year before the 1974 Turkish intervention, and most recently in April 2004, negotiators of the island’s two peoples came very close to a negotiated resolution. In 1973, when Turkish Cypriots had agreed to some local municipal rights, it was President Archbishop Makarios who vetoed the deal, saying as it did not bring an end to the guarantee system, thus to Turkey’s guarantor status and a symbolic military presence on Cyprus, he would not accept the deal. In 2004 Greek Cypriots voted down in twin referenda a U.N.-sponsored resolution plan, again, among some other reasons, complaining it failed to provide a definitive immediate end to Turkey’s military presence on the island. Thus, each and every time there was the prospect of a resolution, it was the Greek Cypriot side that either categorically rejected the negotiated deal or, as was in 2004, voted down in a referendum. Thus, each time Greek Cypriots have demonstrated their acute disinterest in any form of a negotiated power-sharing accord under which they would share sovereignty and federal governance of the island on the basis of political equality, bi-zonality and bi-communality fundamental principles.

Now, the Cyprus talks are once again at a very important and decisive turning point. Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı, like former socialist President Mehmet Ali Talat, has been sacrificing all sacrosanct positions of his people for the sake of achieving a resolution and ending decades of isolation of his people from international society. Like Talat, Akıncı has been under fire from conservative and mainstream segments of the Turkish Cypriot people, who complain an accord built on concessions from their fundamental positions might bring catastrophe should the Greek Cypriot side act dishonestly and in contravention to the deal.
In Talat’s time a “cross voting scheme” aimed at keeping the socialists in governance while at the same time nourishing a “Cypriot nation” devoid of ethnicities brought the end of Talat’s presidency. The cunning idea – with each people having 20 percent influence in the vote of the other side – would keep the socialists in power forever, as neither of the two peoples would ever vote for the conservatives of the other. That offer was part of a package deal that included a rotating presidency and top state executive positions. In Talat’s time, and now, Greek Cypriots with a tweezing approach took out the cross voting and rejected the rest of that package, including a rotating presidency.

Now, the Turkish Cypriot president has once again agreed to cross voting without making Greek Cypriots take any step back from their adamant rejection of a rotating presidency. Still, the Greek Cypriot leader, like a hungry carnivore, has been eyeing further concessions from the Turkish Cypriot side before he could agree to a “meeting in New York of two communal leaders” with U.S. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. He even has been refusing the term “tripartite,” as that could imply some sort of equality between him and Akıncı.

The Turkish Cypriot president has been in efforts to develop empathy with the Greek Cypriot leader, Nicos Anastasiades. Yet, the romantic Akıncı could not make an assessment based on his past months of experience in negotiations with Anastasiades. There has not been an inch progress on the property issue. The Greek Cypriot leader has been demanding that pre-1974 Greek Cypriot property owners have the first say in the future of the property, ignoring the rights of those who have been living in or on the property since then. Compensation, according to Anastasiades, must be in a frame that would allow the compensated to obtain an equal property in size and importance in the Greek Cypriot sector. In view of the development level of the two sides, that would mean a compensation scheme in the billions of euros.

Worse, even Akıncı’s latest offer limiting Turkey’s guarantor status with the northern Turkish Cypriot sector and making difficult the right to take action was “unsatisfactory” for Anastasiades. However, Akıncı’s order was not only against Turkish Cypriots’ vested interests in the entirety of the island, it was also against Turkey’s rights and interests on the island. Contrary to what Akıncı suggested, the 1960 system should have been kept intact and updated with a clause that the guarantors would also guarantee the new territorial border of the two founding states of the new federation. Thus, the territorial border of the two states would have acquired an international status further than just being a line on a map.

Greek Cypriots have not yet accepted that the deal to be reached must at the same time be a primary law of the EU. That is fundamental, as all derogations would vanish in thin air the moment they are challenged in court if they were not made EU primary law.

Akıncı believes he has been honestly seeking a negotiated compromise settlement. Akıncı has been defending that if Anastasiades was not sincerely seeking a settlement that would become clear within a month or two. He just could not see that Anastasiades would like to keep the talks going as long as possible because continuation of the talks has become a must so that foreign direct investments and foreign energy deals could continue.