One-way road: Cyprus talks

One-way road: Cyprus talks

Hopes are building on the island, as well as in the international arena, that within a few months, a Cyprus deal or a preliminary framework accord might finally be reached. 

There are comments that the process has entered a one-way road leading nowhere but a settlement. What kind of a settlement? Everyone has an idea about fundamentals of a federal resolution yet, no one is sure a federation is really possible. Then, can there be a plan B? Hush up! That is a taboo for now…

Exaggerated expectations and over-blown optimism might eventually create great disillusionment. Yet, giving up hope would mean surrendering to failure, succumbing to fatalism and losing raison d’être. Balancing out cautious optimism and refusing to be carried away with either small failures or successes perhaps might be the best for a healthy psychology.

Completing some confidence building measures, whatever they might be, cannot be bad, as long as the Cyprus talks do not become hostage of the confidence building package talks or turn into a confidence building exercise. This does not mean, of course, that confidence building measures are trivial and must be avoided. On the contrary, if such a package can be implemented as a part and parcel of the overall process, with the intention of facilitating creation and enforcement of a pro-compromise deal social awareness in the two peoples of divided Cyprus, they might be most welcome.

For example, the decision of the Turkish Cypriot administration hours after the resumption of the talks on May 15 (as of midnight May 16) regarding visa requirements for travelling between the south and north was a welcome development. Not just Cypriots with both ethnicities but foreigners as well will no longer need a visa slip and a stamp at the border crossing, as presenting ID cards will be enough to cross between the two states. Also, because of new President Mustafa Akıncı’s instruction, drivers will not need to get out of their cars as border police will not stay in booths; instead, the police will go to cars and check IDs of drivers. This will hopefully help those fanatic Greek Cypriots who refuse to visit north who believe that obtaining a visa might tacitly amount to recognizing the Turkish Cypriot state. The more there is social contact and people-to-people relations, there will, of course, be more understanding between the two peoples. Naturally, as this writer suffered from many times, there might be negligible cases of individual attacks (my car was scratched with a sharp object twice on the Greek Cypriot side) but the overall result will be conducive to the goal of a building a common future.

Norwegian diplomat Espen Barth Eide, the special Cyprus representative of the U.N. Secretary-General, is reported to be quite convinced after the May 15 resumption of the Cyprus talks between Nikos Anastasiades and newly-elected Turkish Cypriot leader Akıncı that the Cyprus talks have entered a “final stage” and are on a “one-way road” leading nowhere but an agreement, interim or principle deal within the next few months.
According to some claims, even though Anastasiades refused to commit himself publicly to a timetable, Eide has convinced him and Akıncı to continue talks uninterrupted until the September U.N. General Assembly meeting on the sidelines of which the deal, a preliminary deal or at least an enforced statement committing the two sides to a fast-track resolution might be announced. That means Anastasiades and his negotiating team will have to agree to work also in the traditional holiday month of August. Anastasiades, as the leader of the “recognized” Cypriot state will be attending the U.N. General Assembly meeting while Akıncı will be in New York for the meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation, where the Turkish Cypriot state is a non-voting member.

A framework deal, preliminary agreement or an enforced statement committing the two sides to the fundamentals of a resolution is, of course, good music to the ear but to achieve them requires immense efforts and a mentality change on the Greek Cypriot side.

Achieving some confidence building measures, waiving visa requirement and even allowing mobile communications agencies achieve some kind of a roaming agreement will all be impressive developments but that’s all. Is there not a need for Greek Cypriots to change their mentalities and accept their responsibility in the triggering of the Cyprus problem? Should they not stop seeing the Cyprus issue solely as an “invasion, occupation and refugee” problem and accept the genocidal practices in the era of 1960-1974 that they undertook against Turkish Cypriots as well? Will it be possible to build a common future without Greek Cypriots agreeing that Cyprus is the common house of two peoples with equal political rights? Trying to resolve Cyprus issue on the basis of “one man, one vote” generalization is a dead-end road; two peoples of the island, irrespective of their sizes, have communal and equal political rights. Will Greek Cypriots agree to this? Or else what is the meaning of being on a one-way road or a highway?