Cyprus tango resumes at Greentree
It is not of course the first time New York is hosting negotiating teams of the two Cypriot sides. Will it be the last? It appears not but let us assume for now there is such a probability.
The first of the Cyprus talks was held in 1968 in Beirut, Lebanon, between late President Rauf Denktaş and Glafkos Clerides. Now we are in 2012, talks are still continuing with some people still assuming a settlement might finally be within reach, while on the key element -- the Greek Cypriot refusal to share power on the basis of political equality with Turkish Cypriots, an anomaly fed by the ill utopia Cyprus is a Greek island -- has still been marring a resolution…
Indeed there were times when even those sitting at the negotiations developed strong hopes perhaps a settlement to this quagmire, widely considered as a good example of intractable problems, might be exhausting its lifespan, and could indeed be solved soon. One such occasion was perhaps 1986 when the then U.N. Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar released his famous report. Denktaş had declared his readiness to sign the document before the former Greek Cypriot leader Spyros Kyprianou gave it a cold shoulder. Then came the 1994 “Set of Ideas” of then U.N. Secretary-General Boutros-Boutros Ghali. Denktaş was ready to accept 97 of the overall 100 articles of the report and was ready to discuss the remaining three. Cunning Clerides said he would accept the package if the Turkish side declared its acceptance; refused to talk on breaching proposals made by Ghali and successfully placed the responsibility of the failure on Denktaş. Remember, it was the same “pro-settlement” Clerides who confessed that, should Denktaş have accepted the Annan Plan at The Hague in 2003, he would have rejected it.
Most recently, in 2004, the Annan Plan was overwhelmingly endorsed by the Turkish Cypriots in a referendum, while the Greek Cypriot leadership and people flatly rejected it, demonstrating which side did not want a resolution on the island.
Yesterday, the two communal leaders and their negotiating teams travelled to the UN’s Greentree retreat. Today, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will join them and for two days through proximity and direct talks Ban will try to increase the number of their convergences to a level allowing convening of an international conference where the “outer elements,” such as the guarantee system would be handled… Such a conference would signal the Cyprus problem might be clambering over its last hurdles…Both sides have already presented 20-page-long comprehensive summaries of their final offers to the team of the secretary-general. The Turkish Cypriot side expects to jump from those papers to a give-and-take process and come closer to a settlement, the Greek Cypriot side insists on moving to give-and-take only after resolution on key aspects of the problem. Mediterranean undersea resources, in the meantime, are gassing the atmosphere, encouraging Greek Cypriots to think “Why should we have a deal and share the hydrocarbon wealth with Turkish CypriotSometimes two might not be enough for tango, will is required as well and Greek Cypriots just don’t have it.