Lute’s mission on Cyprus is doomed to fail
The provisional special Cyprus advisor of the United Nations Secretary-General, Jane Holl Lute, will be in Cyprus this week. During her visit to the island, Lute is scheduled to meet separately with the Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders but she is not scheduled to come together with the two leaders at an official or non-official event or even a social event.
The prime objective of Lute’s visit is to gather first-hand information about the post Crans-Montana recollections of the two sides that might be helpful for the secretary-general to decide whether there is sufficient ground and a prospect of success to kickstart the Cyprus talks once again.
As it appears, the two sides on the island appear far from any sort of compromise for a federal solution. Indeed, over the past few weeks, the two sides, as well as Turkey, have been in efforts to consolidate their positions and send strong signals to the “other side.” Almost everyone in Northern Cyprus, even Mustafa Akıncı, the soft-spoken Turkish Cypriot leader committed to a federal Cyprus, stress that as long as there has not been a substantive mental change in the Greek Cypriot side, a federation will not be possible.
On the Greek Cypriot side, on the other hand, from Nikos Anastasiades to party leaders, there appears to be a full consensus that there can be no Cyprus settlement without considerable territorial concessions, including Morphou (Güzelyurt), by the Turkish side and complete withdrawal of Turkish troops as well as termination of Turkey’s guarantor status, including its right to unilateral intervention. Turkish Cypriots, however, consider Turkey’s continued presence as well as maintenance of its guarantor status as sine qua non (absolute necessity) of any deal.
Now, Lute is facing the task of listening to the two sides separately, devising her notes accordingly. She will then have two interrelated options. First, to advise the secretary-general of the possibility to resume the Cyprus talks and prospects of success if they ever resume. Secondly, if the suggested talks can be resumed, what ought to be the starting point? Would it be where they were crushed at Crans-Montana and still aim for the establishment of a federal Cyprus, or would it start as a totally new exercise, the end result of which ought to be shaped by the two leaders and the “guarantor powers” during the process?
The Greek Cypriot side demands the talks resume from where they were crushed at Crans-Montana last year while the Turkish Cypriot side insists the time has come to discuss “new things in a new process.” The obvious message of the Turkish Cypriot side, indeed, is a product of the consensus between the Ankara and Akıncı administrations, that though the Turkish Cypriot leader has been so committed to a federal deal, federation hopes are dead and buried and the time has come to discuss new ideas, including two states in the European Union.
According to Turkish Cypriots, as long as the Greek Cypriot side insists on “maintaining the rights of the majority” and refuses to consider the Turkish Cypriot people as political equals with an equal say in the governance and territory of the island, there can be no federal settlement. However, a two state settlement could help Greek Cypriots satisfy their expectations without hampering the fundamental demands of the Turkish Cypriot side.
In Anastasiades’ latest statement, he said he would never agree to giving the Turkish Cypriot side the right to veto undertakings of the government of parliament and Turkish Cypriots should have confidence that a majority dominated governance would take care of the rights of the minority. The Turkish Cypriot side considered this a manifestation of his continued rejection of a compromise settlement based on the notion of equality. This notion of equality is based on the principle of “no minority and majority on Cyprus but two people of which the relationship is not one of majority and minority but of two people sharing the same homeland.”
Lute will face a difficult task that appears doomed to fail.