Cyprus talks: Not anytime soon

Cyprus talks: Not anytime soon

Cyprus diplomacy in New York produced nothing different than expected: A reaffirmation that there is neither a base nor political intention at the Greek Cypriot leadership for a compromise federal resolution of the Cyprus problem within the U.N. parameters of political equality, bi-zonality and bi-communality. 

Apparently, on the Greek Cypriot side, only Andros Kyprianou, the leader of the Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL), remains committed to a federal resolution, while President Nikos Anastasiades pays lip service to the idea but, under the disguise of federation, has been trying to promote a unitary resolution on the basis of individual rights rather than communal rights.

Even AKEL, on the other hand, wants a federal resolution under which Greek Cypriots will have absolute power, while Turkish Cypriots are patched up to the state with some advanced autonomous rights as a minority. Like the leftists in Turkish Cypriot areas, AKEL believes in “Cypriotness” and discards ethnical or sub-identities. In his latest remarks, Kyprianou underlined that the Greek Cypriot right was still aloof of the fact that Turkish Cypriots cannot resist forever to a gigantic and powerful Turkey.

For Kyrpianou, refusing federation and suggesting a two-state solution might be an existential mistake.

Recently, however, at a closed-door meeting, Anastasiades delivered a firm “oxi” (no) to a question on whether they would agree to a federal resolution giving Turkish Cypriots “partnership rights” if Turkey withdrew its soldiers, rotation of presidency was dropped from the cards and Ankara agreed to give up its guarantor status. This awkward situation was reported by a Turkish Cypriot journalist who has more Greek Cypriot comrades than his fans in Northern Cyprus.

That was apparently the conclusion reached by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres after separate round of talks with Turkish, Greek as well as Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot leaders, and there was an informal get together of the foreign ministers of the three guarantor powers, Greece, Britain and Turkey.

According to Greek Cypriot sources, during a 20-minute meeting with Anastasiades, Guterres reportedly stressed he did not take up the Cyprus issue with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, while his other contacts, as well as contacts by his temporary special consultant on Cyprus, Jane Holl Lute, showed for the time being there was neither sufficient ground nor an intention for a compromise resolution.

What’s said is of course of great importance as there are already claims that - fed up with the failure all through the past more than half century of all efforts to solve the Cyprus problem, the Donald Trump administration might agree to terminate the presence of Cyprus peacemaking troops on Cyprus. U.N. troops were first dispatched to the island in March 1964 with a U.N. Security Council resolution recognizing for compelling reasons all Greek Cypriot governments as the Cyprus government even though the constitution as well as the founding agreements required a bi-communal government.

Such a move might be a game-changer. For different reasons, AKEL is aware of the impeding danger, Anastasiades and his conservatives still insist under duress Turkey would abandon Turkish Cypriots and compel them to patch up to the Cyprus republic as a minority.

Let’s hope the decision of Guterres that there was no common ground for the resumption of Cyprus talks reflects awareness of this mental fatigue. This fatigue should be removed for a Cyprus settlement rather than some sort of a formal divorce.