Demonization of Koenig

Demonization of Koenig

Espen Barth Eide, the special Cyprus envoy of the U.N. secretary-general, will be on Cyprus between March 16 and 18 in a bid to revive the Cyprus talks while Greek Cypriots are busy demonizing a top diplomat. Believe it or not, according to Greek Cypriots, the British are trying to undermine the United Nations resolutions and Americans are “bombarding” prospects. Obsession, is it not? If ever anyone says anything contrary to what Greek Cypriots believed ought to be said at that particular moment, that person is of course part of an “anti-Greek” conspiracy.

Looks familiar, does it not? It’s not more different than the Turkish psycho. Are Turks much different than Greeks in that sense? Indeed, perhaps the tall, bald, bold and ever angry sultan of the imperial palace ought to be an exception, as there could be no match to him.

The American ambassador to Nicosia, John Koenig, has almost completed his third year on the island. Unlike some diplomats who might stay away developing suggestions and constrain diplomatic activities to just “reporting to headquarters,” Koenig has been rather active all through the past years. Would, for example, the Feb. 11, 2014, document that kicked off the stalled peace talks again with a reaffirmation of the bizonal, bicommunal federation on the basis of “political equality” be possible without Ambassador Koenig’s and the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland’s persuasion diplomacy?

There are some wild ideas, or challenges made by the Greek Cypriot government against the American ambassador nowadays. Declaring an ambassador, an American ambassador, persona non grata is of course a very serious development and even the spoiled Greek Cypriots might not dare to undertake such an adventurist move. Yet, every other day there’s an article or commentary in the Greek Cypriot media suggesting the probability of Ambassador Koenig’s expulsion for actions incompatible with the diplomatic code of conduct.

Greek Cypriots, and by the way many Turkish Cypriots, are unhappy particularly with Koenig’s “interim resolution” ideas regarding the fenced, deserted Varosha suburb of Famagusta and the former Greek Cypriot residents of Kyrenia. For some time Ambassador Koenig has been floating around the idea of resettlement of Greek Cypriots in Varosha and partly in Kyrenia “under Turkish Cypriot rule” and without compromising the overall final resolution of the Cyprus problem. Regarding Varosha, there are even suggestions to allow local administration to be handled by the resettled Greek Cypriot population, while the area remains under Turkish Cypriot control with security guaranteed by the United Nations.

While such a move would be a unilateral one and, for example, Turkish Cypriots would not be “granted” access to international markets through the Famagusta port under their control, why does the Greek Cypriot government so strongly opposes the idea? Simply because Varosha refugees constitute a very rich an influential segment of Greek Cypriots and if they are “satisfied” with a “provisional
arrangement,” such a deal might hurt the claim of being the sole legitimate government of the entire island. Furthermore, as the Security Council issued separate resolutions on the status of Varosha and such a deal would satisfy those resolutions with the area remaining de facto under Turkish Cypriot rule, Turkish Cypriots might capture the moral upper hand in the Cyprus talks.

Besides, a deal, though provisional, will require if not recognition at least acknowledgement of the post-1974 reality, the existence of a self-governing democratic entity in northern Cyprus. Also, the thesis that the resolution of the Cyprus problem might become attainable through dividing the issue into compartments will be consolidated while both sides so far have been adamant on an “overall resolution” and “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed” approach. Would it be possible to insist on the validity of U.N. Resolutions 541 and 550 which brand the Turkish Cypriot state as “non-existent” and call on the international community not to recognize it if Greek Cypriots de facto acknowledge the existence of a separate state in the north?

Such a resolution of the Cyprus problem might eventually help legalization of the “Turkification” of northern Cyprus, as a resolution based on compartmentalization will help reduce the number of Greek Cypriots willing to return to their former properties in the north but instead encourage them to seek compensation through the Immovable Assets Commission, which despite all objections of consecutive Greek Cypriot governments enjoys U.N. and international legitimacy and recognition.

With all my objections to the compartmentalization approach, if there ever will be a Cyprus deal, recognition of the Cyprus realities is a must, is it not? Besides, why would Turkish Cypriots walk the road of unilateral compromise again?