Insanity and Cyprus

Insanity and Cyprus

Was it Albert Einstein who described insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?” If what he said was right, the mental status of everyone involved in the futile Cyprus diplomacy and peacemaking efforts since 1968 can be called into question.

Pundits have been commenting ever since it was announced that the two communal leaders of the eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus would meet at a dinner Sunday night, ideally demonstrate leadership and a constructive, pro-settlement desire and put the latest crisis in the Cyprus talks process behind them. If the two leaders manage to resume the talks, leave their differences in the past and succeed in refocusing, the dinner might usher Cyprus into a new era, the pundits believed.

Frankly, declaring every year as the “Cyprus year” has lost its meaning over time. When the term was first used by George Bush in the mid-1980s, did it not excite everyone, including the diehard skeptics of the probability of a federal resolution on the island? The problem was not with the efforts of the Americans or the British or an army of United Nations special envoys. Nor was it with technocrats preparing talking points to the two leaders and their negotiating delegations. The problem was with the format, modality, setup or however one might describe it, of the talks.

If Greek Cypriots enjoy the title of sole legitimate government of Cyprus despite unilaterally usurping that title by forcibly expelling their Turkish partners from all organs of the Cyprus Republic, why would they earnestly negotiate a settlement? Why would they engage in power-sharing with Turkish Cypriots left out since 1964 without a government recognized by the international community? Why would they share sovereignty? Listing Turkish Cypriots among the minorities of the island clearly demonstrates the mindset obstructing a resolution to the Cyprus problem.

If Turkish Cypriots have no intention of accepting the second-class citizenship of a Greek-run state, if they refuse to patch up to the Cypriot Republic with some peculiar and advanced communal rights and if they insist on refusing a relationship based on a minority and majority but insist on a relationship of two peoples sharing the same homeland, can it be possible for the present negotiations to produce a federal resolution anytime soon?

Greek Cypriot readers frequently bombard this writer with questions such as “Would Turkey give the same rights to Kurds that you are demanding for Turkish Cypriots?” How and when Turkey’s Kurdish problem will be resolved I have no idea. And, of course Kurds should be given their inalienable rights, including education rights, and must be made comfortable as first-class citizens of Turkey. Naturally, all this must be done without endangering the national security and integrity of Turkey. Kurds are Turks and Turks are Kurds. At least, that must be the target of any resolution effort.

Without changing the mindset, nothing can be achieved in Cyprus even if these talks continue another century. Anyhow, how many years have passed since the first meeting of Rauf Denktaş and Glafkos Clerides at a Beirut hotel? Each time there was progress toward a resolution, it was always the Greek Cypriot side who created some crisis and landed the talks in some unfortunate fire but skillfully and with the talent of a cheeky kid, attempted to place the blame on the Turkish Cypriot side.

The decision to commemorate the plebiscite on “enosis” (union with Greece) in schools by the Greek Cypriot House of Representatives was a foolish mistake. President Nicos Anastasiades and all other top politicians of the Greek Cypriot side condemned the development as such. Were they not on the island when the issue was first sponsored by the two-deputy fascist Elam party? Were they blind and deaf and could not read or hear that Turkish Cypriots were screaming against such a development, which they considered hostile and incompatible with the spirit of federation? They were aware of everything but believed Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı was so empathetic that he would understand that a president coming from a party with such a bloody EOKA terrorist gang background could not oppose such a move. He was mistaken, as for a change, Akıncı remembered that he was a Turkish Cypriot and that the vote was a sheer insult.

This article was penned a few hours before the two leaders put on their navy blue suits for the dinner. Would they agree to resume the talks on April 7 as was heralded by some fortune-telling journalists even before the two came together? Would it mean anything if they resumed talks? Even if talks resumed, as long as Anastasiades and his community consider the Turkish Cypriots a minority who should only have some minority rights, there cannot be a Cyprus resolution, or a resolution that can last long.

Greek Cypriots will be angered once again, but a Cyprus deal must be based on the foundation of the equality of the two people, two ethnicities, two religions and two democracies. In such an equality, there cannot be a “minority partner” and a “majority partner;” there ought to be just equal partners. Greek Cypriots are right in stressing that in an independent country there ought to be no place for foreign armies and guarantees.

Well, if and when the two people of Cyprus manage to build confidence and Turks feel they have full security with or without Turkish troops, the guarantee system might end in something like 15-20 years’ time.

Still, attaching so much importance to a dinner is insane. What if the talks resume without Greek Cypriots changing their mentality? In that case, failure will be inevitable.