Reincarnation of Cyprus federation
The unofficial Berlin trilateral Cyprus meeting concluded with a statement which might be interpreted in many ways, positive and negative.
The summary, however, is short and clear: The meeting did not end anything further than a reaffirmation that the two leaders remained committed to seek creation of a bi-zonal and bi-communal federal Cyprus with political equality and effective participation of the island’s two communities in governance. Furthermore, the United Nations secretary-general has reaffirmed his commitment to the Cyprus resolution efforts.
As has become cliché, can there be a different result from an experiment that repeatedly failed if all the ingredients and the methodology followed remained the same? I would not say it is insane to insist on having a Cyprus federation even if the past almost 60 years of talks have all failed, all plans collapsed and dozens of mediators were exhausted because one of the two parties to the problem just simply never ever accepted to share power, forget about effective participation in governance, with the other community. Perhaps the international community, particularly the U.N. secretary-general, found a new tool to use as a leverage for the Greek Cypriots to convince them to walk the extra mile and agree to share power with Turkish Cypriots.
To put it honestly, even those who reiterated commitment to a federal resolution on Cyprus indeed must have been pretty much aware that the federation option was long buried and even become dust. Yet, because it serves in their interests, they preferred to stage a tragicomedy as if the federal option is still alive. For the Greek Cypriot leadership, it was because of a conviction that the status quo provided some sort of a stability, served its best interests or at least helped it consolidate its “the sole legitimate government” of the island.
As for Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı, he stressed so much that the federation is the sole option that he just cannot backtrack and admit that the “beauty he has been after” is long dead. Thus, to continue the allegory made by Akıncı immediately after the end of the Berlin trilateral that the Cyprus train was derailed a bit but placed back on its track. I must say, as a Turkish proverb stresses, “The hamam [Turkish bath] is the same old hamam, the stoup is the same old stoup and even the bath attendant is the same bath attendant…” If nothing was achieved on that train over the past 60 years, or if it failed to reach its destination after so many decades of effort, perhaps time has come to try something new.
If, after so many decades of failure, nobody is questioning why failure has become the fundamental characteristic of the methodology applied and the goal pursued, can there be success if the same road was walked again? Can we revive a dead man just because the relatives of those who are so fond of him just prefer not to accept that he is dead?
What has changed since 2017 that merit an optimistic comment if the U.N. secretary-general reiterated nothing more than what was on the table on the night the talks collapsed at the Crans Montana round? If the fundamental positions of the two parties regarding power sharing, political equality, guarantees and such key outstanding issues remain as unbreachable as ever, what might be the meaning of trying to reincarnate a dead process other than wasting precious time and energy other than providing Akıncı some ammunition ahead the April presidential vote that he anticipates to win with a “failed last time, but process is ongoing, we are close to a deal soon” empty pledge on the part of Akıncı and for Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiades to convince foreign investors that despite unilateral actions, including on hydrocarbon resources, Turks were foolish enough to remain in the talks process and provide legitimacy to his administration.