New York diplomacy on Cyprus
Apart from intercommunal talks, Greek Cypriot leaders, particularly the current one — Nikos Anastasiades — have been categorically against coming together with the Turkish Cypriot leader on grounds that such developments might “elevate the status” of the Turkish Cypriot state. Every few years, U.N. officials and international mediators work to make best use of each opportunity to bring together the two communal leaders of Cyprus with the U.N.’s secretary-general. And each time Greek Cypriots deliver a very strong “No,” unless the event was designed to be strictly separate from the U.N. general assembly’s process.
Now, it appears that some things have changed. The Greek Cypriot leadership has been sending diplomatic as well as covert messages through the media that Anastasiades might be “prepared to accept” an invitation to come together with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı. What for? To discuss how the Cyprus talks process could be rehashed, or resumed from where they collapsed at Crans-Montana more than a year ago.
It was interesting to read in the Greek Cypriot media why the U.N.’s General Assembly meetings in New York might offer a great opportunity for a “trilateral meeting” between Anastasiades, Akıncı and Guterres, which would be a “landmark” move for peacemaking on Cyprus. Peacemaking? Of course, there has been confusion over that word. It is often misused instead of “settlement” or “Cyprus accord” because the intercommunal violence that started in 1963 with Greek Cypriot attacks on Turkish Cypriots abruptly stopped after the 1974 Turkish intervention. What’s missing is to replace the 1974 “ceasefire” declaration with a proper agreement concluding the intercommunal talks process that started back in 1968.
The Greek Cypriot official news agency went even a step forward after reporting that Anastasiades would accept a meeting on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly if the secretary-general makes such an invitation because the Greek Cypriot leader was “always ready” for dialogue.
Interestingly enough, these revelations of the Greek Cypriot leadership came immediately after a statement from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who made clear that since the previous Cyprus talks collapsed time has come to seek a “different settlement” on the island. Obviously what Erdoğan was stressing on, although beating around the bush, was the understanding in Ankara that because of Greek Cypriot disinterest, a federal solution could not be achieved on Cyprus. If a federation that does not entail political equality of the two people, rotation of presidency, Turkey’s continued guarantor status, including the right to unilateral intervention, cannot be established because of Greek Cypriot disinterest, time ought to come to seek some other ways, including two states in the EU.
Erdoğan, Akıncı and Anastasiades will be in New York for the U.N. General Assembly meeting where the secretary-general is also expected to separately meet with all three, as well as the Greek prime minister, and inform them about the report prepared by his provisional Cyprus advisor Jane Holl Lute after a tour of Turkey, Greece and the two parts of Cyprus last month. Lute was exploring probability of the resumption of talks.
While Akıncı has been maintaining that he would not want to be the Turkish Cypriot leader who buried the federation prospect, Ankara and most Turkish Cypriot political parties agree that “federation is dead and buried; it is now time to talk about different things.”
New York diplomacy, as it appears, will be as exciting as ever.