Hopes fade for a Cyprus deal

Hopes fade for a Cyprus deal

Turkish Cypriot negotiator Kudret Özersay has given up hopes of a resolution on Cyprus anytime soon unless the current skidding stops, talks are brought to a serious give-and-take stage and the two sides commit themselves to reaching an agreement by a certain date. Will Greek Cypriots agree to that? No way…

Özersay is not a typical civil servant and could not become a politician, but he has been quite successful in shaping public opinion. He might be considered as one of the architects of the en masse refusal of the Turkish Cypriot people to a referendum on a constitutional amendment agreed upon by all parliamentary parties.

Similarly, he and his “getting together” (or “toparlanıyoruz”) movement was instrumental in sending home mayors of three or four terms in office and bringing in new people, mostly independents. It is not easy to win the confidence of people, but Özersay has succeeded in that. Why? Perhaps one reason was he did not establish a party but actively communicated with the people through electronic platforms.

The Greek Cypriot leadership has been obsessed for some time, trying to prevent Turkish Cypriots having even social contacts with foreign missions or visiting dignitaries. Publicly, the Greek Cypriot leader has criticized a group of ambassadors for “contributing to the elevation of the status” of the “occupation regime” in northern Cyprus. He could not even stop there and at a meeting with his Turkish Cypriot counterpart, Derviş Eroğlu, and later in remarks to some European envoys, Nicos Anastasiades burst out that a Cyprus settlement should reflect the “minority and majority reality” of Cyprus.

Such developments were of course not conducive at all to peacemaking between the “two equal communities” of the island, the relations between which were perfectly described by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan as “not one of minority and majority but of two communities sharing the same homeland.” It was that “rejectionist” mentality of the far-right, nationalist, bloodthirsty EOKA gang that created today’s Cyprus problem by planning and attempting to annihilate the Turkish Cypriot population on the island. Anastasiades, who heads a party of the residues of the EOKA gang, has apparently fallen prey to his wild other by starting talking with such primitive and problem-making language. The 1974 Turkish intervention and everything that developed since then were by-products of the original problem, not the problem itself. The real problem is the mentality that Anastasiades has brought out from the darkness of his character once again.

Özersay, naturally, was frustrated with the Greek Cypriot leadership constantly talking about a resolution but going to the negotiating table and demanding that Turkish Cypriots give a territorial map, talk about the property issue and list the concessions it intends to make, all while he cannot even commit himself to a reasonable time frame. Does he not know that the moment Turkish Cypriots present a sketch or a map, life in all those territories that might be given back to Greek Cypriots will come to a standstill?

Fikri Toros, the head of the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce, was in Ankara this week as guest of Union of Chambers (TOBB) chief Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu. Due to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s extravaganza presidential candidacy announcement festivities, Toros wasn’t able to meet with Beşir Atalay, the minister in charge of nasty businesses and of course the Cyprus colonization drive, or any top political figure. Yet, such visits help to explain to “mainland Turks” the desperate situation in the “kinderland.” Toros explained the great strides achieved toward enhancing cooperation between the two business communities on the island and TOBB’s efforts in consolidating such contacts. Toros had many ideas that he believed Greek Cypriot counterparts would be willing to cooperate with Turkish Cypriots. A system of transitional joint governance in exchange for Vaorsha being returned to Greek Cypriots and Ercan opening to international flights, for example, was feasible, he believed.

Greek Cypriots will take away Varosha and withdraw from the process, leaving Turkish Cypriots in the cold again, I am afraid. Yet, it was good that at least the businessmen of the two sides have a hope for a common future on the island.