Dead end road…

Dead end road…

The problem in Cyprus is not finding a resolution to the over 50-year-old power sharing quagmire between the two peoples of the island but to pretend as if a solution is wanted by a certain date. Is this an overstatement? Probably. But, if a settlement is wanted, why don’t negotiators, the army of international mediators and others, such as the United Nations Security Council, Britain, the United States and Russia, prod the two sides on the island to make a return to the 1977-1979 mentality, first listing the overall guidelines to be followed and then agreeing on terminologies before filling in the gaps?

If there is anyone so naïve to the Cyprus issue to now ask what happened in 1977 and 1979, let me explain first. After the collapse of the sixth round of talks in Geneva in 1975 – during which the two sides discussed what kind of a settlement was needed on the island and discussed federation in length but failed to agree – there was a lull of about 18 months in the Cyprus talks. In 1977, Rauf Denktaş wrote to the U.N. secretary-general and asked for his help to arrange a high level meeting between him and Greek Cypriot leader Archbishop Makarios. As a result, in 1977 the two met and issued a four-point agreement, which for the first time included the creation of a bi-zonal and bi-communal federal Cyprus as the official target of the talks between the two politically equal communities on the island. That was the first time Greek Cypriots agreed to discuss federation. In 1979, after the death of Makarios, a second high level agreement was held, with U.N. mediation again, between Denktaş and new Greek Cypriot leader Spyros Kyprianou. The two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to a bi-zonal and bi-communal federation, adding an “economic viability” description to the zone to be left to Turkish Cypriots in a future federation.

Since 1979, however, there has been an effort on the Greek Cypriot side to fool Turkish Cypriots and make them accept a unitary state with the same federal components as the “federal resolution,” while Turkish Cypriots have been reacting to that by offering confederation disguised as federation. That is, from 1979 on there has never been a clear meaning on either side of what federation indeed is or what kind of a federation the island should have. Should it have an American-style federation with “states” which succumb to the federal government? Or should it have the Belgian style, or the Swiss? Perhaps it should go the German way.

Perhaps it needed a federation which in fact is a unitary state in many senses. Or the other way round, a unitary state that indeed was an effective federation, like the 1960 Cyprus republic.

A rotating presidency, the two-house legislature, powers or competencies of the federal government and the local administrations, virgin birth or continuation of the Greek-seized Cyprus republic and all other terminologies are products of this confused mindset, or a demonstration of the separate mental paths the two sides insist on walking at the Cyprus talks.

There is an absolute need to have a session with the participation of the three guarantor powers of the island to decide what kind of a settlement is wanted on Cyprus. Those who would object to the inclusion of Britain, Turkey and Greece are unaware of the importance of the island of Cyprus and naïve enough to believe the validity of the “Cyprus settlement by Cypriots for Cypriots” slogan. Cyprus is important for Russia, wants to have access to the Paphos port and the Papandreou air base, British should continue their sovereign bases, Israelis will convert the north and south of the island into their second home, Greece will have thousands of troops and other disguised personnel on the island but Turkey will agree to end its guarantor status and leave… To believe it, one must be a lunatic. Cyprus is existentially important for Turkey and it will never ever abandon its interest there. Anyhow, a Cyprus settlement must cater to the internal and external balances.

The internal balance is between Turkish and Greek Cypriots, while the external balance is between Turkey, Greece, the West, NATO, Russia and continue the list.

Now, negotiations have hit the rocks once again. It has not yet been disclosed officially but for some time there has not been an inch of progress in any area, as foreplay came to an end and the leaders were compelled to go into the core issues such as property and power sharing. Besides, they started testing each other as well on the thorny guarantees issue. One is saying “the return of Morphou [Güzelyurt] is a sine qua non of an agreement,” while the other is saying “well, modifications on the border are possible but Güzelyurt can no longer be returned. You must have accepted the 2004 Annan plan; it is too late.” One is demanding autonomous Greek Cypriot hamlets on the Karpas peninsula; the other is saying some Greeks might return to live under Turkish Cypriot rule, with no autonomous hamlets. One is saying all but a handful of people settled on Cyprus from Turkey since 1974 must return; the other is saying those who have become citizens of the Turkish Cypriot state will stay on.

These of course are all details. “What kind of a settlement?” and “what are the parameters of a settlement?” ought to be the first to be answered if a settlement is wanted. If the Greek Cypriot side still says the rotating presidency demand is a dead end street, well, the Cyprus talks are on a dead end road.