The corn silo…

The corn silo…

It is a Turkish saying: in a dream, a hungry hen sees itself in a corn silo. Listening to Turkish Cypriot Foreign Minister Özdil Nami, I remembered that saying. Nami appeared to be so hungry for peace and a resolution to the Cyprus problem that he wanted to believe the Cyprus talks would start within days.
Since everything was discussed at length so many times, he said a Cyprus deal could be achieved within weeks, provided there was a political will. And by March next year, the two peoples of the island might go to simultaneous referenda to seal the deal and end the Cyprus problem on the 50th anniversary of the United Nations’ decision to dispatch peacekeepers to the island in March 1964.

Negotiators Osman Ertuğ and Andreas Mavroiannis have been busy for weeks, penning down a joint statement to be read if and when the two leaders of the two sides on the island gather to kick off peace talks once again. So far, the two sides have not been able to agree on the wording and the content of the statement after so many meetings. How will the two sides reach an agreement on an overall Cyprus deal, addressing all thorny questions regarding joint governance, sovereignty, territorial aspects, property, refugees and so on and so forth? If there was a political will on the Greek Cypriot side for a bi-zonal and bi-communal Cyprus settlement based on mutual, bitter compromises, why are they so sensitive about committing themselves to a timetable, with the U.N. playing the role of arbiter and perhaps finding a middle road on difficult subjects?

Just on Wednesday, after Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu disclosed – as if it was in his remit –Nov. 4 as the date of the resumption of the new Cyprus process between the two leaders. The Greek Cypriot side went up in arms, declaring that there was no such agreement. Indeed, the U.N. office in Cyprus immediately denied it as well. But the date was a suggestion by U.N. envoy Alexander Downer.

Of course, it was wrong for Davutoğlu to jump the gun like a cheeky kid. Still, why were the Greek Cypriots so enraged by that disclosure? Whether it’s Nov. 4, 5 or later, what difference would it make if there is a will for a compromise deal? Greek Cypriots are under pressure from some leading Western players who see the prospect of a Turkey, Cyprus, Israel and EU energy axis and fear that Turkey will drift away to some not-so-welcome alliances otherwise. A Cyprus fix is in the best interest of those major Western powers.

On the other hand, Nami was perfectly right in stressing at a breakfast yesterday that all aspects of the Cyprus issue have been discussed so many times since 1964 (indeed 1968 was the date of the start of Cyprus talks in Lebanon) and that no stone has been left unturned. Yes indeed, if the Greek Cypriot side wants a resolution as desperately as Nami and the overwhelming majority of Turkish Cypriot people of all political tendencies, it should not indeed take more than few weeks to pen down a new partnership agreement.

After all, since 2008, intensive talks have been held, and a 77-page document was penned down by the U.N. team on the island regarding “convergences – 2008-2012.” Difficult issues pertaining to territory, property ownership, security arrangements (including the thorny guarantees issue – hence Turkey’s military presence) require a final give-and-take. If there is a will, there is definitely a way to resolve all the outstanding issues.

Unfortunately, Nami was like the hen dreaming it is in a corn silo when he insisted that despite all the odds, a settlement is within reach now… But he was right that tomorrow might be too late for hopes of a federation.