Sovereign equality for Cyprus
There will not be a fixed agenda for the April 27-29 unofficial Cyprus 5+1 Cyprus conference at Geneva. The representatives of the Turks and the Greeks of Cyprus, along with the three guarantor powers (Turkey, Greece and Britain), will meet at the invitation of U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres - with the European Union attending on the sidelines as an observer - to express their ideas on the future of the eastern Mediterranean island.
If sharing power is the fundamental ingredient of any sort of a “federation cocktail,” and if the Greek Cypriots
side all along - with the long history of the Cyprus talks process since 1968 - has been adamantly refusing to acknowledge and abide by the political equality of their Turkish Cypriot partners, then talking about a federation was, is and will be a dead-end road, doomed to fail. Even after the collapse of the 2017 Crans-Montana talks because of the Greek Cypriots refusal to share power, the Greek Cypriots are still talking about negotiating a federal resolution, mocking with the intellect of not only the Turkish Cypriots but the entire international community. It was just last week when the Greek Cypriots were discussing to agree to “give” political equality to the Turkish Cypriots in exchange for some serious territorial and property concessions, including Varosha and Morphou (Güzelyurt). That is insane.
Political equality is not the only sine qua non or fundamental unnegotiable inherent right of the Turkish Cypriots - very much like the Greek Cypriots with which they share the same homeland. After the Crans-Montana talks, “sovereign equality” has become a fundamental demand for any deal on Cyprus as well.
What do the “political equality” and “sovereign equality” terms mean? Political equality underlines the equality of the two peoples of the island. In the 1960 Cyprus founding agreements, there was a clear understanding. That understanding - communicated in an attached letter to the founding agreements - was that Cyprus, in part or in whole, cannot unite with another country or join a political or military organization in which both Turkey and Greece are already a member. The Turkish Cypriots were expelled in 1964 from the partnership government at gunpoint following the 1963 genocidal attacks by the Greek Cypriots’ hordes, but that was not all. In 2004, even without discussing the Turkish Cypriots, put aside their consent, the Greek Cypriots’ government went down to a unilateral EU accession. Like at Crans-Montana, yet once again, if the Greek Cypriots adamantly refuse to acknowledge political equality, reaffirming their continued refusal to have a resolution erected on the pillar of political equality, then even though if they agree to such a resolution under duress, it will most likely be a short-lived one like the 1960 system that lasted only for three years. Thus, the Turkish Cypriots have raised their demands to include partnership in sovereignty. Why? So that if once again the Greek Cypriots try to get rid of the Turkish Cypriots, this time, the Turkish Cypriots might just part with their sovereign state and don’t end up in a political outcast in the international community of nations.
There are many ways of achieving such a solution, and there are indeed many alternatives that might be discussed once the concept of the federation – which is impossible to achieve anyhow – is dumped altogether. Two sovereign
states forming a confederation and having one seat at the EU Council, two sovereign states in EU (a de-facto federation), or two full-fledged independent states one in EU and the other with a special agreement with the EU - there might be many ideas.
EU’s status at the talks is problematic. Obviously, the EU is a fundamental part of any negotiation process on the island, but it can neither be a party to the talks nor can play an increased role – excluding the final stage – as from the moment the Greek Cypriots were allowed unilateral accession contrary to the 1960 agreements, the EU has imported the Cyprus problem and aligned with the Greek Cypriots. Thus, it cannot be an honest contributor.