Resolution or deception

Resolution or deception

It is as if a Cyprus settlement is completed and time has come to sell it to the people – and, of course, to the global sponsors who hopefully will finance its implementation.

Mehmet Ali Talat, who failed as president of the Turkish Cypriot people to convince his comrade Deimitris Christofias, the former Greek Cypriot leader, to walk the painful compromise road, is now on roads to sell a resolution as if there was one at hand. Talat is visiting at least one village or town a day and is advising people that they should vote “yes” when the Cyprus resolution plan was put to a public vote.

“A Turkish Cypriot ‘no’ and a Greek Cypriot ‘no’ cannot be the same… Our ‘no’ will be very costly for us,” he has warned Turkish Cypriots. Why will a Turkish Cypriot “no” vote be costlier than the Greek Cypriot one?

It is simple. Greek Cypriots enjoy international recognition. They are the “sole legitimate government” of the entire island. They are the U.N. as well as the EU’s “sole government” of the “entire island,” while Turkish Cypriots are recognized only by Turkey. Indeed, what he has been confessing is the fact that as Turkish Cypriots, we have been walking an uphill road with both legs tied. That is why a Cyprus settlement was not be possible for the past four decades. A defeatist mentality is exactly how Talat has been approaching the issue: “Say yes, or consequences will be serious.” This cannot be a valid argument at all. 

If one of the problem’s two sides is compelled to solve the problem because it will be left in the cold, while the other will lose nothing if it does not undertake some painful compromises like the other party, can there be a resolution?

Reading Greek Cypriot media statements attributed to Nikos Anastasiades, the Greek Cypriot president, it becomes all the more apparent that despite all the rhetoric of Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı and his team – including former president Talat – might be withholding, if not engaging in deception, some crucial information. What will Akıncı tell potential sponsors in New York?

Do the Cyprus talks, for example, aim at rehashing the Cyprus republic to include the Turkish Cypriot element and maintain its “unitary status” but while calling it “federal republic?” If, as Anastasiades is reported to be saying, all Cypriots will have the right to live, own property and freely move around all of Cyprus with no hindrance, how will the bi-zonality and bi-communality of the future federation be maintained? If, as Akıncı is claimed to have accepted, in the resolution of the property issue, the “original owners” will have the first say and if all “refugees” will have the right to return and resettle in their pre-1974 properties, what will happen to Turkish Cypriots – and mainland settlers who have long become Turkish Cypriot citizens – who will be kicked out of their homes with a settlement?

If the new Cyprus state will be a federation of two peoples and there will be a “political equality” of the two peoples in the governance of this new state, could it be possible to talk about a “unitary state” or insist – as is reported in the Greek Cypriot media – that the president will always be from the Greek Cypriot community?

Who is telling the truth? Are we going to have a rotation of the presidency, as Akıncı has been stressing, or are we going to always have a Greek Cypriot president with no vice president or no veto power for Turkish Cypriots?

There are claims that substantial progress has been achieved in many areas, except the guarantees and territorial aspects of the problem. What is the progress achieved? Akıncı’s team has been rather mute on the issue by saying early disclosure might kill the entire process…

They might be right. However, if Greek Cypriot side has been revealing many explosive pro-Greek details – probably to promote a “yes” vote – should not the Turkish side at least shed some light on these contentious points?

Otherwise, why is Talat trying to sell “yes,” while Akıncı and others are trying to enroll international sponsors to cover the cost of the settlement’s implementation? Is there really a prospect of a resolution anytime soon or are we heading to another collapse?