Psychological obsessions trouble Cyprus deal

Psychological obsessions trouble Cyprus deal

Psychological disorders or phobias may constitute the most fundamental aspect of the Cyprus problem. They are probably the reason why reaching a settlement has become such a horrendous job that has defied almost half a century of efforts.

The first and foremost problem is the “minority obsession.” The Turkish Cypriots refuse to be described as a minority, but suffer from an acute “minority syndrome,” mostly because of the island’s recent history but also because of the perennial animosity between Turkey and Greece. The Greek Cypriots constitute a greater share of the island’s population, but due to the proximity of the 80 million-strong Turkey nearby - with a mighty army that intervened in 1974 after an Athens-instigated coup by Greek Cypriots, and remained on the island ever since - they have developed a minority complex towards Turkey.

Can there be a Cyprus resolution without addressing the key fear of both two communities and by simply saying that such phobias are irrelevant in today’s political realities? Could the EU be a guarantee for the security of either side, given the fact that throughout its history the EU has never been able to solve any such issue? 

Can the Turkish Cypriots, amid the presence and official protection of groups such as the fascist Elam on the Greek side, forget how Greek Cypriot hordes hunted them on Cypriot highways from 1963 to 1974? Could the Greek Cypriots deny the official and institutionalized impunity provided to those involved in violence against Turkish Cypriots? Has any prosecutor launched an investigation into people who have admitted on state TV that they mercilessly murdered Turkish Cypriots? Is it not because of such institutionalized anti-Turkish practices that over 85 percent of Turkish Cypriots today consider Turkey’s continued guarantee and presence on the island as a must for a settlement? Since 1974, the Turkish Cypriots have been enjoying uninterrupted peace and security. Why should they agree to risk that now? 

The 1974 Turkish intervention was a trauma for the Greek Cypriots. Turkey’s presence on the island may have provided uninterrupted peace and security for the Turkish Cypriots, but at the same time it kept the Greek Cypriots away from their pre-1974 properties. Now the side sides are in a new round of talks, where will the compromises of both sides end? Despite the current, what Akıncı has been saying will most likely be disowned by Turkish Cypriot citizens if a deal is ever reached and put to a vote. 

One of the contentious convergences that Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı have made was to fix a 4/1 ratio of the island’s Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot populations. Although the actual Greek Cypriot population was 635,000, the two leaders set it at 820,000; while the Turkish Cypriot population was put at just 220,000, despite the fact that the latest census in 2015 put it at 265,000. What is worse is the fact that the two leaders have agreed to maintain that 4/1 ethnic composition ratio on the island forever.

Regarding granting citizenship to mainland Turks in the future, the two leaders have agreed that for every four Greeks neutralized as Cyprus citizens, one Turk will be given Cypriot citizenship. But if Cyprus is in the EU, EU citizens will have the right to free movement, settlement, owning property or making investments, will there be any need to make Greeks citizens of Cyprus? And if the Greeks who have settled on the island do not need to become citizens, will any Turks be able to become citizens? Of course, both presidents apparently have many people around them advising on such oddities. But Akıncı’s case represents how frustration can lead someone to utter surrender. As one Turkish minister recently complained off the record, some people have difficulty distinguishing whether Akıncı or Anastasiades is the Greek Cypriot leader.

Akıncı’s assertion that the population ratio is “just for the beginning period” is not a very impressive way of explaining how such a compromise was made. The 4/1 ratio is a huge trap that will end up leading to the end of the Turkish Cypriot presence on Cyprus, particularly if somehow Turkey’s guarantee is rendered ineffective or obsolete.

Demanding the same rights for Turkish citizens that mainland Greek citizens have in the post-settlement Cyprus federation, therefore, is not something to be objected to. Rather, it is a requirement of a sustainable settlement. 

Achieving the territorial integrity of the island is not a tough job at all compared to the task of getting rid of walls built inside people’s heads. The discussion among Greek Cypriots over the four freedoms nowadays is just yet another demonstration of their archaic anti-Turkish obsession. Can there be a settlement before they are cured of that mental status?