Seeking a new approach for Cyprus

Seeking a new approach for Cyprus

There has allegedly been the possibility of some game-changing developments in Cyprus peacemaking. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is being claimed to have finally acknowledged the “bitter reality” after the informal 5+1 conference last month that, as expected, failed. What’s the “bitter reality”? Was it in line with the current systematic framework and procedure? Is it impossible to find a solution to the Cyprus problem? Most probably.

It has now become clear that a new round of talks cannot be resumed from where the Crans-Montana negotiations in the summer of 2017 were subjected to a premeditated crash by Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades. Nor a new process can be launched along the lines of the so-called Guterres framework – offered as a last-ditch effort to save the 2017 talks. There is definitely a need for a new procedural, methodological and conceptual approach if a resolution is desired to be achieved.

The U.N. Security Council Resolution 186 of Mar. 4, 1964 has been one of the main causes of insolvency in Cyprus. The resolution aimed to stop the Greek Cypriot genocidal attacks on the Turkish Cypriots, end the bloodshed and achieve those goals to dispatch United Nations Peacekeeping Force (UNFICYP) to the island. In that resolution, though the Turkish Cypriot partners were removed by force from the partnership government, the all-Greek Cypriot administration was considered under the “doctrine of necessity” as the “Government of Cyprus.” At the time, with the “provisional” explanations and pressures from the United Kingdom and the United States government, Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot gave their consent. Since then, the Greek Cypriots have sought not to resolve the Cyprus problem, but to consolidate their “government” status “recognized” by the U.N. Why would the Greek Cypriots compromise with the Turkish Cypriots for the sake of a solution while they believe they are the government of the entire island as recognized by the U.N., and since May 1, 2004, by the EU as well? Is that the bitter reality Guterres realized? Even if he did, how can he move to annul Security Council Resolution 186, as required by the Turkish Cypriot two-state resolution proposal? Thus, again palliative moves would have to be preferred.

In this case, will the U.N. secretary-general leave them for a “wholesome solution”? Will the Cyprus problem ship – this time probably with many compartments – be directed to the solution port with an ambitious but multiple “give-and-take processes”? Can this approach, which can also be described as a third way, be summarized as laying “give and take” stepping-stones that can guide the two sides on Cyprus, as well as Turkey and Greece to a final solution acceptable to all sides?

The search for a third way can be a healthy approach. With smart confidence-building measures, it might be possible to make more comfortable progress by establishing serious possibilities of cooperation, and creating interdependence, for instance, by making the best use of hydrocarbon resources as well as in some other areas, including tourism. Why would it not be possible to start joint companies for this purpose?

If what I hear is true, “clusters,” for instance, are being considered. “Land, property and population-related issues” can be placed in one cluster, while “sovereignty, guarantees issues and succession matters” in another, and “equality within the EU, including Turkey’s “Cyprus limited EU-member status,” a must for the economic security of Turkish Cyprus, can form a different cluster.

I think this search will continue for a while. The U.S. is still supporting a long-dead and buried bicommunal, bizonal federal settlement. Britain stands somewhere between a “loose Cyprus-style federation” and a confederation. “Bridge” views are also mentioned occasionally, such as the parties “acknowledging” each other’s status, increase economy-based cooperation and confidence-building measures but maintain their official positions pending an overall settlement.

Since March 1964, the Greek Cypriots have always blocked a solution, with the preconception that they would not gain anything in a settlement. At this stage, the Greek Cypriot government and its supporters must have seen that they cannot use a liter of hydrocarbon resources without a deal primarily with the Turkish Cypriot side and subsequently with Turkey. On the other hand, in the near future, the Güzelyurt (Morphou) plain, and in two years, the Mesaria plane as well will be opened to irrigation drawing water from Anatolia. Turkey’s continued economic support and growing local capabilities will boost the TRNC’s capability to stand on its own two feet, while the north will consolidate its integration with Turkey.

The message to the Greek side is clear: You will lose with this mentality; grab the hand extended for peace, and let’s explore the possibility of a two-state solution together.

Yusuf Kanlı, Mediterranean, Aegean,