Cyprus talks: The desire of having is the sin of covetousness

Cyprus talks: The desire of having is the sin of covetousness

At the beginning of the Crans-Montana summit on Cyprus, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres provided the process with a golden touch, asking the two sides to prepare packages answering all six chapters of a probable Cyprus compromise deal. 

While the Turkish side remained mum, as always the Greek Cypriot side leaked the framework paper that the U.N. secretary-general presented on June 30. In leaking it they distorted the document in a manner as if to suggest that the secretary-general supported the Greek Cypriot “zero guarantee,” “zero unilateral intervention right” and “zero rotation” position.

It was thus demonstrated once again that in order to achieve its goals the Greek Cypriot-Greek side can even leak distorted documents.

“I have to make this proposal,” Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiades had told a session of the advisory National Council composed of party leaders. He was protested. His spokesman submitted his resignation in indignation over the protests. Cyprus Mail reported that Solidarity leader Eleni Theocharous, who unlike the other party leaders had declined Anastasiades’ invitation to join him at Crans-Montana, leaked to Greek Cypriot media on the afternoon of July 5 that she was en route by car to the Swiss resort from Brussels.

This is exactly one of the great hurdles ahead if the unexpected happens and a Cyprus deal is somehow struck and put to the signatures of the two sides and the three guarantor powers at the U.N.’s Geneva headquarters. 

According to some rumors, the U.N. has already allocated a hall for the signing ceremony on July 10. It would indeed be a miraculous success. One article is related to the deployment of an international force on Cyprus. But saying is easier than doing. How will a new international force be established in such a manner that all Cypriots would feel safe? Which countries will contribute to it? Those questions are particularly pertinent if the deal is going to enforce an implementation mechanism that would include external factors such as the United Nations, as well as multilateral and international aspects?

In two articles, Anastasiades has finally spelled out some meat regarding the rotation of the presidency. This has to be discussed. How will the president and the vice president, who will rotate, be elected? What will their duties and powers be? What about their veto power? In resolving the property issue, it was being stressed that an “emotional link” should be protected. How? How will there be respect to the 1/3 ratio?
If issues agreed upon back in January 2010 are now put on the negotiation table as “new offers” for discussion, is it still possible to talk of honesty, sincerity and commitment to a resolution? Well, as Anastasiades himself confessed, he was compelled to put a package proposal on the table.

How will the Turkish Cypriots’ efficient participation in governance be reconciled with the generous offer from Anastasiades that there will be three Greeks for every one Turk employed in public office? Will there be a veto power or some equivalent arrangement for the Turks to enforce efficient participation in governance?

Unfortunately, Anastasiades has created such high expectations in the Greek Cypriot population with his “zero soldiers” and “zero guarantee” approaches that even if the novice Turkish Cypriot negotiating team feels compelled to say “Yes,” it will probably not be possible to get public support for even cosmetic concessions. Even with restricted right to intervene and reduced troop level, there will be a Turkish military presence on the island and a continued guarantee scheme. Can Anastasiades get support from his community for such a deal? 

The apprentice team of Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı worked all night on June 5 to draft answers to the Greek Cypriot proposals. All the time, from the start of this latest process two years ago - but most importantly since June 28 start of the Crans-Montana talks - the Turkish side has made proposal after proposal. The Greek side reacted to those proposals but refused to put anything on the table. Now, because of the U.N. secretary-general’s visit and the possibility of being fingered as the spoiler party, some hastily rearranged old positions have been put together and presented as new proposals. Was Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu wrong when he said the Greeks had put forward “old ideas in new wrapping”?

Of course, leaking to the media before presenting to the Turkish side and the U.N. demonstrated the aim of playing to the tribunes. But can we still have a Cyprus deal anytime soon? Let’s cross our fingers and pray for the best. In any case, recognizing that this process has failed may ultimately be as valuable as inking a new Cyprus federation deal…

Was Shakespeare wrong when he wrote in Twelfth Night that the “Desire of having is the sin of covetousness”?