Eroğlu telling a lie

Eroğlu telling a lie

Talking to the media in New York late Monday, April 21, after a meeting with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Turkish Cypriot President Derviş Eroğlu, looking directly into the cameras, was telling a lie: “We can reach a settlement on Cyprus within this year and submit that settlement to separate referenda of the two peoples within 2014.”

That is, of course, what is demanded by the vast majority of the Turkish Cypriot people that even made hardliner Eroğlu someone demanding and willing to undertake bitter compromise in order to resolve the intractable Cyprus issue. Are there, however, prospects of resolution? Is a settlement really discernible? Put aside the maximalist demands from both sides that further complicate the process, can we assume that with once-a-month leaders’ meetings and weekly single meetings of the negotiators, a settlement can be achieved anytime soon? Come on, be realistic! With the current pace of the Cyprus process expecting a quick fix – which is indeed possible – is tantamount to searching for water in the Sahara desert.

Naturally, Eroğlu was a politician, a negotiator and took the New York media opportunity to press his Greek Cypriot counterpart to become more forthcoming in the talks. Otherwise, he, for sure, knew far better than anyone else that unless the Greek Cypriot side gives up “getting Varosha from the bloody Turks” and such hallucinations, a settlement cannot be discernible. He knows far better than anyone that resolution won’t be within grasp unless Greek Cypriots really engage in the process, accept the 77-page 2008-2012 convergences paper prepared by former U.N. special envoy Alexander Downer as ground to work on, agree to a reasonable time table and, if required, U.N. help with bridging proposals.

Well Eroğlu was right in stressing that nothing can be achieved on the island with the blame game. He, indeed, was correct as well that time passing is rendering a resolution even more difficult. Was it not Özdil Nami, the foreign minister whose pro-settlement resolve cannot be questioned even by his adversaries, who declared recently that because of new settlements, land development and such, Turkish Cypriots cannot be as generous as the Annan Plan regarding territorial adjustments? Passing time is consolidating the already intractable problem and rendering a resolution even more difficult. Anyhow the latest poll results underscore that while the strong pro-resolution resolve of the Turkish Cypriot people forced Eroğlu to change, unfortunately there is no such climate on the Greek Cypriot side.

An outstanding majority of Greek Cypriots still demand a rehashing of the 1960 unitary state with Turkish Cypriots having some advanced minority rights. Their second option is the maintenance of the status quo – that is Greek Cypriots enjoying the benefits of being the sole legitimate government and Turkish Cypriots remaining political outcasts isolated from the world. Federation was their third option with a two-state resolution being the last option. The first option of the Turkish Cypriots, however, was two-state resolution. That was followed by federation. That fundamental difference in the mindset of the two peoples of the island can produce a dove from an Eroğlu who defended hardline policies all his life, but a hawk from Nikos Anastasiades who voted “yes” to the failed 2004 peace plan. Anyhow, Anastasiades has his political roots in the EOKA terror gang, as his party was established by former EOKA terrorists.

Was Eroğlu speaking correctly? No… He was just expressing his hope to see a resolution this year. Hopefully… To achieve it, perhaps we should change the rules of engagement…