Third way in Cyprus
Last week, in talks with Elizabeth Spehar, the special representative and head of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus, Kudret Özersay reasserted the possibility of a third way Cyprus resolution prospect, apart from the federation or two states approaches.
Özersay, a former Turkish Cypriot foreign minister who served in the intercommunal talks team of founding President Rauf Denktaş and served as chief negotiator during Derviş Eroğlu presidency, explained that federation was an impossible task, Greek Cypriots refuse a two-state resolution, but effective cooperation between the two states of Cyprus might produce a magical way out. Can it be?
Many people, including not only the United Nations secretary-general or the British Foreign Office, as the Cyprus problem has been in a deadlock since the Crans Montana meeting in July 2017, believed that there was also a need to search for new and creative ideas. Every idea, naturally, must be studied in detail before delivering a decision about it. Though, we have been accustomed to condemning right away whatever is new or challenging the established taboos.
People’s Party (HP) Leader Özersay explained at various encounters with media people that the way out of the impasse in Cyprus diplomacy, he believed was his “third way” proposal that indeed was nothing different than establishing some sort of a win-win “partnership of two states.” This, he explained, is not only a way out of the impasse in Cyprus diplomacy, but indeed is a proposal for a partnership of two states on the island outside a federal framework.
Could it be a confederation or just cooperation for mutual interests between two full-fledged states? Could it be some sort of a Taiwan or Kosovo model?
According to Özersay, not necessarily. “This proposal is not a replica of the Taiwan or Kosovo model for Cyprus. On the contrary, it ought to be a Cypriot model.”
As confusing as it might be, the summary of the so-called “third way” is apparently squarely built on making the two states on the island not only dependent on each other but through cooperation create an atmosphere of confidence and mutual empathy, the missing main ingredients on the island for the time being.
Some questions supportive of a “third way” in Cyprus talks might be that why would we act in prejudices now? Why condition the outcome of the process with federation, confederation, or two independent states and such terminologies? Özersay explained that over time the partnership established between the two states might develop into a permanent separation, a federation, or something peculiar to Cyprus. In any case, when that day comes in separate and simultaneous referenda, the two peoples of the island should be asked to make a choice.
Obviously, if the cooperation-based partnership of two states on the island leads to a creation of some joint undertakings – for instance in the use of on-land and off-land hydrocarbon riches – that would create a far better economic climate for both the two peoples of the island, it might become far more easier for this partnership to progress toward a federation. Otherwise, the two states might decide to proceed in their separate ways.
“Our main objective is to provide a lasting settlement that will safeguard the rights and interests of the Turkish Cypriot people,” Özersay said, asserting as a contrast to the constant assertions of the former President Mustafa Akıncı that contributed to the failure of the process as well. Obviously, the two sides at the Cyprus talks must reflect the empathy, rights and expectations of their separate peoples rather than neglecting the interests of their people and trying to understand the other side.
Federation is dead and buried. If the Greek Cypriots shunned for almost four decades the idea of sharing sovereignty with the Turkish Cypriots and instead kept offering some sort of “privileged minority rights,” federation is not possible. For now, the Greek Cypriots don’t accept a two-state settlement either, even though die-hard conservatives agree that’s probably the only way out. If for now none of the two roads can be walked on, perhaps it is wiser, as Özersay suggested, to establish a mutually beneficial partnership between the two states, hoping that such a frame could proceed to a settlement either way.