Federation is not an alternative for Cyprus problem

Federation is not an alternative for Cyprus problem

Up until 2017, with the collapse of the Cyprus intercommunal talks at Crans Montana over Greek Cyprus’ refusal to share power with the Turkish Cypriots, most Cyprus watchers were trifling with people suggesting a two-state resolution of the Cyprus problem. Whereas, all through the past decades, an army of international mediators and the two communal leaders of Cyprus, unfortunately, were mocking with everyone, anticipating a federal solution to place a full stop to the Cyprus quagmire.

The ingredients required for a federal deal are clear -- the existence of two or more communities willing to walk a road of compromise and share sovereignty, power, resources and responsibilities to build a prosperous common future on common land on the basis of political equality, or a relationship that former U.N. chief Kofi Annan had described, which was a relationship based not on minority or majority, but of two equal peoples sharing the same homeland.

On the other hand, the Greek Cypriots used the inconclusive rounds of federation talks to consolidate the state they usurped from the Turkish Cypriots’ partners. Thus, they were rather successful. Not only with a March 1964 resolution that the U.N. Security Council recognized a government deficient of the Turkish members as the government of the entire island (under the out of necessity clause), but also that the government became members of almost all international bodies – except NATO because of Turkish objections – including the EU as the “sole legitimate government of the entire island.” Why the Turkish Cypriots have always been committed to a federal settlement despite being very much aware that it never was a viable and attainable option? Was it because the Turkish Cypriots have always been pro-Greek and anti-Turkish, or were they really suffering from Stockholm Syndrome?

No… They were defeatists. They very much wanted a resolution that would provide a reason for the Turkish Cypriot people to build a future in their homeland. They, perhaps, believed as well that Turkey might be a bigger threat than the Greeks.

After watching a debate at the Turkish Cypriot parliament – thanks to satellite broadcasts – I got carried away into such considerations. Republican Turks’ Party (CTP) leader Tufan Erhürman was talking with National Unity Party (UBP) deputy Oğuzhan Hasipoğlu. He was explaining to Hasipoğlu that as long as Russia, France and the United States are not made to accept a change in the parameters of the Cyprus talks process, there could be no meaning in insisting to suggest a two-state model, be it a confederation or a full-fledged two independent states.

Wrong… How can a senior Turkish politician have such a confused state of mind? There are sufficient reasons to believe that Greek Cypriots would prefer a two-state resolution rather than a bizonal and bicommunal federation with effective power-sharing, political equality, and the like. The target ought to be to work hard to convince Greek Cypriots that the two peoples of the island who could not build a common life, can live side by side and build a common future. If the Greek Cypriots, who are the members of the U.N. Security Council, agree to such a deal, would they object to a deal so badly that is needed on Cyprus since 1963?

Unfortunately, the Turkish Cypriots do not say that “If the two peoples agree, the U.N. Security Council must accept to change the parameters.” Shouldn’t everyone be forcing the U.N. to make such an assessment if the two peoples agree? Isn’t it enough to have a two-state deal if Greek Cypriots accept a deal based on two-states?

As I keep on saying, the “Federation or nothing” position  is no less than opposing a negotiated deal.

Yusuf Kanlı,