Rules of the game need to be changed

Rules of the game need to be changed

Who said it first? Was it U’Thant? Or was it Peres de Cuellar? It could be as well be Hugo Gobi, Boutros Boutros Ghali, George Bush or Richard Hallbrooke… Every other year someone comes up with the same or almost identical frame, suggesting that a Cyprus settlement has become discernible and that the year ahead will most probably be Cyprus’ year.

Former Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet Ali Talat had become laughing stock, even for his own supporters, with his constant daydreaming that his comrade and Greek Cypriot counterpart Demetris Christofias would walk the extra mile one day and bang, the Cyprus problem would be resolved once and for all. Neither Talat nor the army of international politicians and bureaucrats involved in some capacity in Cyprus diplomacy were either naïve or ignorant of the “reality of Cyprus,” but they all just hoped common sense would eventually prevail and Greek Cypriots would wake up to see the need to resolve the Cyprus problem through bitter compromise.

There are of course some Greek Cypriots, a tiny minority, who indeed want to see a resolution of the Cyprus problem, the restoration of some sort of working partnership state between the two peoples of the island. Rather than constant tension and blame-the-other games, these people want to proceed forward toward a promising common future on the island, cheek to cheek with their Turkish Cypriot compatriots. For the majority of Greek Cypriots suffering from the “majoritarianism obsession,” the island belongs to the “majority” Greek Cypriots, and if Turkish Cypriots wanted to have a place on the island they must learn to accommodate themselves to this “reality” because they constitute the “minority” community. However, as Kofi Annan said in one of his Cyprus reports, the relationship between the two peoples of Cyprus “is not one of minority and majority, but of two equal communities sharing the same homeland.” Indeed, the Cyprus problem started when, with the claim of enforcing effective governance, Archbishop Makarios wanted to butcher Turkish Cypriot partnership rights.

In talks with Alexander Downer, the U.N. secretary general’s special Cyprus envoy, Greek Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiades and his top bureaucrats have reportedly stressed again that they wanted a resolution that would not compromise “effective governance,” while Turkish Cypriot President Derviş Eroğlu and his staff have reiterated their readiness to make 2013 or at the latest 2014 the “Cyprus year.” How? Through engaging in meaningful and comprehensive talks… Hold on, Anastasiades, who I and many other people judging with his pre-presidency remarks believed would be pro-settlement, has started repeating the same old clichés that have prevented a Cyprus accord for the past half century. He wants Varosha be given back to the Greeks as a bonus for accepting the return to talks. He insists that there ought to be no timetable and no arrangement to punish the party that might stall progress. Why? Like his predecessors, he just does not see the need to have a compromise Cyprus deal.

Why should he? He is the internationally recognized state, government and president. His state is an EU member, and has a seat at the U.N. Turkish Cypriots, however, are recognized only by Turkey, cut off from the international community, cannot even participate in international sports competitions. Why should Anastasiades or his successor compromise as long as rules of the game remain intact? 

Eroğlu was talking to the media yesterday. He said he was hopeful of a quick resolution. Does he know something that we do not know, or was he joking? He cannot be that naïve…