Sovereign equality is the key to a solution on Cyprus
It’s been voiced again lately. Turkey should pursue give-and-take politics with Russia. Of course, relations between countries develop, or regress, based on interests, not on the rhetoric of “eternal friendship.” Since the same interests were once observed, the foreign and even security and trade policies of two or more countries may be very close, while the same countries can engage in very different discourses with a slight change in the equation.
Who founded the Taliban or the Daesh? What costs did a major country undertake to set up such heinous hordes? How can a country, which today has been abetting the terrorist structure in northern Syria and supporting it, knowing that all kinds of weapons and ammunition aid were provided so that it could fight another terrorist structure can indeed be used against Turkey? Let alone the claim that it is a “strategic partner,” can such a country providing arms, ammunition, all kinds of military vehicles and political support to a gang that still is on its own list of terrorist organizations be seen as friendly? Just because a country has power or imperialist capacity shouldn’t mean it can do whatever it wants, anytime. Unfortunately, in international relations, the law of the powerful, not the rule of law, often prevails.
That, of course, is today’s reality. Yesterday was different. Tomorrow will be different. Of course, this includes the “realpolitik” concept that Germans have gifted to world politics. For example, for 35 years, the world pretended as if the People’s Republic of China didn’t exist. Moreover, during the same period, the Taiwan island administration was recognized as the Chinese government and crowned as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. Later? Taiwan was left out of the system and welcomed into China.
No one should say, “The U.N. Security Council does not back down, and even if what it did is wrong, it does not accept and back down.” Palaver. When it comes to their interest, they twist like dancers. Was the view that it cannot become a member without addressing the internal problems that have always been used against Turkey, for instance, when the Greek Cypriot Administration became a member, representing the entire island of Cyprus and its people? Angela Merkel, who today quit active politics with glory and applause, was so obsessed with eastern European enlargement of the EU – for economic, social, defensive as well as political reasons – that she agreed to let Greece take the EU hostage and Cyprus became a member of the EU in 2004. Germany’s interest required it. Germany’s satisfaction was also necessary during those days for the interests of the rest of Europe.
The most important reason for the failure to solve the Cyprus problem is the U.N. Security Council Resolution 186, dated March 4, 1964. This resolution, which in order to send U.N. peace troopers to the island “temporarily” considered the Greek-only government as the only legitimate government on the island – to sign a host-country agreement – despite the constitution and constituent agreements, is the cause of insolvency. As long as this arrangement, which gives the Greek Cypriots the role of the government of the island and the Turkish Cypriots as a minority of that government is in force, the Greek Cypriots will never agree to share the island, the administration and the resources on the basis of equality with the Turkish Cypriots, and indeed they have not accepted since 1964.
Turkish Cypriot President Ersin Tatar and his Greek Cypriot counterpart, Nicos Anastasiades, were to meet Monday with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York over an “unofficial lunch.” Of course, this lunch will not mean that the negotiations have begun. Formal talks should not be possible only until the two sides on the island are accepted as equal sovereign entities.
Some political opponents oppose such a precondition, saying it would prevent talks from starting. Of course, sitting at the table on preconditions is not in good faith. However, while it is clear that there will be no progress towards a solution until the correction of an anomaly that has lasted almost 60 years is realized, will it be more constructive to submit to the Greek leadership – which has been pretending as if negotiating a settlement but on the contrary wasting precious time of Turkish Cypriots – for another half-century hoping one day they might agree to a compromise settlement?
Some people argue that they know foreign policy, especially engaging in odd but win-win arrangements. For instance, someone says, “Let’s recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and Russia should recognize the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), or at least not oppose the recognition of it by some of its satellite countries.” These friends are not aware of Crimea, its importance for Turkey and Turks, Turkey’s relations with Ukraine, nor Turkey’s interests. And a man suffering seriously from political dementia is making a judgment about it like he’s done a good job for one day in his life.
Sovereign equality is, of course, a vital demand and should not be pushed back. Neither the “one state on the outside, two states on the inside” that Britain has expressed in recent days, nor the “decentralized federation” proposed by Anastasiades at one point, nor the “EU-member confederation of Cyprus” or often implied sovereign states, and many other proposals can all be discussed. Saying “No” in diplomacy is not the ultimate answer. However, in order for all this and other ideas, including the two-state solution, to be formally discussed, the acceptance of the equal sovereignty of the two sides, as well as the status of these two equal sovereign administrations on the day after the meeting, should be made clear.