‘Federation or partition on Cyprus’

‘Federation or partition on Cyprus’

Was it good? Or was it just yet another effort by the diehard “federalist” socialist Progressive Party of Working People (Akel) to scare Greek Cypriots of the probable consequence, that is de facto partition becoming de juro?

In any way it was rather interesting to read Tumazos Tselebis warning his compatriots that time is up to make a choice in between forging a federation with Turkish Cypriots or a frustrated international community might decide federation on Cyprus is a target impossible to attain and start considering to recognize the de facto partition as the Cyprus settlement.

Tselebis, a longtime member of the Greek Cypriot negotiation team at the Cyprus talks and the head of the Akel’s Cyprus problem bureau, has always been an ardent supporter of a federal settlement on Cyprus.

With the northern Turkish Cypriot section of the island declared a full victory against the COVID-19 viral epidemic and the Greek Cypriot
south has achieved considerable, if not yet decisive, success against the COVID-19 viral epidemic, expectation has started to build up for a new round of Cyprus talks.

Thus, the remarks of Tselebis must be taken as a warning primarily to President Nikos Anastasiades that classical dragging methods might backfire and secondly to Turkish and Greek Cypriot leftist comrades – even though they have no concord on what federation indeed is – the concept of a federation might be all together vanishing fast.

In various remarks to the media last year Tselebis provided very valuable insight into the concessionary style of Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı – particularly as regards to the “partnership rights” as well as “Turkey’s guarantor status” besides painful territorial compromises. In those remarks, he also pointed at the fact that although in the Crans Montana round of talks in July 2017, he was offered by Akıncı most of his demands and for some incomprehensible reason Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiades let a golden opportunity fly out of his own hands.

He also underlined that the federation expectations and priorities of the two sides were so far apart that it was almost impossible for them to agree on reference points that might constitute the backbone of any new Cyprus talks process.

Why is Tselebis now reminding everyone that the choice to be made might be between “federation or partition?” Would it not be a waste of time and energy at a time when both two sides on Cyprus as well as Turkey and Greece and all Cyprus-watchers were all tired of the fight against COVID-19? In view of the deadly epidemic that so badly hit all countries and institutions, who would indeed be bothered with the Cyprus problem or what the settlement utopia of the Greek Cypriot leadership is knowing that for the past 60 years on all Cyprus talks efforts failed because Greek Cypriots never sincerely considered sharing power, sovereignty and territory of Cyprus with their partners, the Turkish Cypriots?

It was indeed a cunning effort by Tselebis. More than all other parties, he probably wanted to prepare Akel as well that if a second wave of COVID-19 this fall can be avoided or with a vaccine maybe developed, after the re-scheduled Oct. 11 presidential elections in northern Cyprus are over, the U.N., United States, Britain and all other actors who have been so closely following and trying to facilitate a Cyprus settlement might demand the two sides, and of course Turkey and Greece, to make a decision on federation or else… For Tselebis, the “else” might be making de facto partition de juro.

There are various ways of doing that, but in view of the sensitivities of most EU countries regarding aspirations of ethnic communities, the growing “two states in EU” expectation of Turkish Cypriots might be difficult to make a debut to the Cyprus talks options.

Yet, Tselebis was right in his assessment that who will be the winner of the Turkish Cypriot vote would be the decisive factor. If incumbent Mustafa Akıncı is reelected or former Premier Tufan Erhürman is elected, most probably another five years will be spent with futile federation talks. If Prime Minister Ersin Tatar is elected, Ankara will become a stronger actor in the talks.

With Kudret Özersay as president, he as well will try to work in harmony with Ankara, there might be a possibility of some other fresh ideas emerge.

He was indeed the first politician, whose post doctorate was on Cyprus talks, to voice the “two states in EU” or “phased settlement approach.”

Tselebis warned that if the Greek Cypriot side did not prepare well enough for the prospective new round of talks after the October polls in northern Cyprus, while Turkey maintained its policies which it has been following since Crans Montana, the U.N. secretary-general in his report probably would not place the responsibility of failure of talks on the Turkish side.