Last-ditch effort for Cyprus talks

Last-ditch effort for Cyprus talks

Will U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres bring back life to the Cyprus talks process murdered in cold blood by the greed of Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades? Will this last attempt to salvage the sunken Cyprus ship succeed?

Dreamers still hoping for a reincarnation of the talks heralded the news that the U.N. chief had invited the leaders of the two peoples of Cyprus to a working dinner June 4 at the U.N. building, suggesting that a new Annan-plan like development might be in the pipeline. Can there be such a development?

The U.N. chief can neither be so naïve to expect a miraculous success nor ignorant about the history of the numerous failed Cyprus initiatives in the archives of the world body. If the U.N. chief, ignoring all that has been stressed by the two parties, particularly by the Greek Cypriot side, regarding the U.N. assuming the role of active mediator, places a settlement plan on the table, that dinner might turn out to be a rather unpleasant evening for him. Of course, the U.N. can and should play the role of bridge building between the two sides if there is ever going to be a U.N.-sponsored Cyprus deal, as the positions of the two sides are far apart on many chapters.

The average reader of this column must have learned by hard how existentially important the continuation of the 1960 guarantee scheme and Turkey’s effective and active security guarantee for the Turkish Cypriot people are. Similarly, anyone who might have read a bit on the Cyprus issue should know in all clarity that because of the 1974 Turkish intervention, trauma is still so strongly felt by Greek Cypriots that they cannot accept Turkey’s guarantee and continued military presence. How can these two positions be reconciled? The two peoples cannot be made happy on this issue at the same time.

The same is true for both property and the territory chapters. If we are to abide by the bi-zonality and bi-commonality principles agreed by the two sides back in high-level agreements in 1975 and 1979 and which have since become the U.N.-accepted parameters of settlement, how can the Greek Cypriots demand to resettle all refugees in their pre-1974 homes? After all, didn’t almost 85 percent of the territory that now is the Turkish Cypriot state belong to Greek Cypriots before 1974? After 45 years, which makes about two generations, how could Turkish Cypriots abandon their homes – something that would happen for the third time in one lifetime, that is, since the 1963 start of Greek Cypriot attacks – and build new lives? Can that conform with human rights even if such a move was to be carried out in due respect to such rights?

Everything aside, what’s the main problem that landed the Cyprus talks process in a deadlock in May? Was it not the greed of Anastasiades to take what he wanted – that is, discuss territory and security – but refuse to compromise an inch regarding power sharing, the key demand of Turkish Cypriots?

Will he agree now that, as agreed right at the beginning of this process, repeated any number of times in previous meetings in the presence of the U.N. chief and most recently reaffirmed last February, all headings will be handled together and that the final decision on territory and security chapters will be taken at a five-party Geneva conference? If he was to come back to the agreed framework, why has he created all this fuss for the past few months?

Even if Anastasiades steps back, in view of the sharp erosion of confidence in him among the Turkish Cypriot leadership and people, what might the prospect of success in a rehashed effort be?

However, if the two sides agree on a velvet divorce and linkages between the two Cypriot states in the EU, all the problems might be easily tackled. Turkey’s guarantee and presence will become the Turkish Cypriots’ concern. So will be mainland settlers. The property issue might be solved through a global exchange or compensation scheme, or those Greek Cypriots wishing to live in the Turkish Cypriot state might do so.
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A step in the right direction: The Rauf Denktaş University controversy has come to a sharp end with the Turkish Cypriot cabinet withdrawing a land allocation deal with the Denktaş family and deciding to establish a public university with the name of Denktaş. The family accepted the decision and withdrew all its applications.