The Davos encounter…
“The two communal leaders of Cyprus,” I would say, but Greek Cypriots would bombard me with protest letters that Nikos Anastasiades was the “president” of the U.N. and EU-member Cyprus, not a communal leader with his buddy Mustafa Akıncı. Anyhow, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will be meeting with the two on Jan. 21 at the Swiss winter resort town of Davos on the sidelines of a World Economic Forum (WEF).
It will of course be a very important landmark in Cyprus matchmaking (it is nonsense to call it “peacemaking” as there has been peace on the island since the 1974 Turkish intervention and the exercise is to remarry the two separated communities) process. The U.N. chief will have an opportunity to listen to the two buddies and learn directly from them how much ground was covered in the process. Whether it will be a trilateral meeting or two separate meetings by the secretary general is still undecided. Greek Cypriots are still obsessed with their diplomatic status and scared of the prospect of the elevation of the two parties on the island to the same level should Anastasiades agrees to meet with the U.N. chief in the presence of Akıncı… How could he accept to be at the same level with the serf Akıncı? Come on, Akıncı is good only for drinking at a Cyprus café… How can the two peoples of Cyprus be brought together in a federation as “two politically equal peoples of Cyprus” who have a relationship between them which is “not one of majority and minority but of two equal peoples sharing the same homeland?” That statement was not made by a Turkish Cypriot - though it has been a key demand of Turkish Cypriots - but by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. For Greek Cypriots, if the U.N. chief meets Anastasiades and Akıncı together, that would mean the two were “co-presidents” of the island.
It is crazy. Anastasiades has been inviting Akıncı for drinks and dinner, coffee and theater on the Greek side, accompanied by ladies they entertain together. Akıncı has been inviting Anastasiades for similar contacts in the north and they entertain together. They meet several times a week as “two equal leaders” representing their “separate peoples.” But, when it comes to a meeting somewhere outside Cyprus with someone important also attending, they shy away, creating a hell of dubious reasons.
Why do we have the Cyprus talks? Is it possible to have any kind of agreement with someone based on the equality of the two peoples of Cyprus if he is suffering from a superiority complex or even perhaps “it’s all mine and only mine” complex? Could we also call it a “sovereignty obsession?” Probably, but the Greek Cypriots should know well that fear is no remedy to death and if they really want to walk the road of federation they must be prepared for very painful compromises by giving away their obsessive ownership of the entire island, accept a Turkish Cypriot partnership in the land and in sovereignty and governance…
The Davos encounter, therefore, has already turned into a tragicomedy before it gets underway. It would not matter much whether the secretary general meets separately with the two leaders or comes together at a trilateral meeting. It might be said that it would either be a trilateral summit or a trilateral proxy summit, with the secretary-general playing the go-between. Nonsense.
However, there are very serious challenges ahead for the Cyprus talks. Many people, including this writer, share the opinion that the two leaders could not achieve any substantial progress in any area that could carry resolution hopes a step further. Yes, the U.N. special envoy, the British, the Americans and of course the two café buddies all talk of “settlement tomorrow, if not today,” but when it comes to substance, there is nothing at hand.
On the property issue, for example, after so much “first owners” controversy, Greek Cypriots have started to buy the Akıncı approach of settling it through reinstitution and exchange to a degree, but mostly by compensation. It was calculated that at least around 25 billion euros, or something around $30 billion, would be needed. Who would pay that money? Turkey, Britain, the U.S., Germany… the list continues. It is believed that money would be in their pockets tomorrow should the two peoples of the island say “yes” in simultaneous referenda on a deal. What a bad joke!
Does anyone recall what happened to the 3.5 billion euros the EU would extend to Turkey to take measures to keep Syrian refugees in its territory and save the beautiful and peaceful European land of prosperity from the unwanted refugees coming in tens of thousands, risking death in the cold waters of the Aegean Sea? Putting aside the amount was trivial in view of the grotesque task of refugees Turkey would be compelled to shoulder; the money might not come at all.
What would happen with Cyprus compensation? Would Europe or the U.S. volunteer and extend billions generously? Put aside other hallucinations and false hopes of “settlement tomorrow, if not today,” the honest answer to this question shows how close a Cyprus deal might be… Perhaps the first target should be to make Greek Cypriots accept that they have partners in the territory and sovereignty of Cyprus and burying their heads in the sand like an ostrich won’t change the “reality on the land.” For a federation or whatever political resolution, Greek Cypriots must concede that they failed from 1963 to 1974 to exterminate Turkish Cypriots, and now must embrace them as equal partners.