Tilting for futile talks
What has changed since the inconclusive termination of the Cyprus talks at Crans-Montana? Nothing. Is there hope for the success of a new round of Cyprus talks should the sides decide to rehash the process?
No way. Why then, has everyone started talking about the need to resume talks? Don’t they have anything else to keep themselves busy?
Joke aside, it is as if the world will suffer a total apocalypse should the Cyprus talks not resume, incredible sums of money will be spent to escape from the ever-roasting Cyprus sun to some Swiss winter sports centers. Two separate exercises both vividly demonstrating the acute disinterest of the Greek Cypriot side in sharing sovereignty, governance and territory of the island with Turkish Cypriots must have been sufficient for everyone willing to evaluate why over half a century of Cyprus diplomacy had failed to yield a result.
What happened over the past two years? What happened during the two rounds of Mont Pelerin talks between the two Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders with representatives of the EU and the three guarantor powers, Turkey, Greece and Britain? Why did the Cran-Montana talks abruptly conclude in failure despite two personal interventions by the new Secretary-General António Guterres? Did Turkey and the empathy-stricken Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı not repeatedly warn during Crans-Montana talks that they were the last chance for a federal solution; if they collapsed because of spoiled Greek-Greek Cypriot attitudes, some other ways must be considered for a Cyprus solution?
Nikos Anastasiades has been having difficulty in explaining to his people why he flatly refused the grandiose concessions Akıncı offered. Turkey would accept termination of the guarantor status after 15 years (Anastasiades demanded that it be achieved in 10 years). From day one of a settlement there would be a radical decrease in the number of Turkish troops on the island. Gradually, the number would go down to 650 and even that figure would be considered after three presidential terms, which is 15 years that would demonstrate settlement accord performed well.
Now, Anastasiades has been facing accusations of impotence, mismanagement and incapability of an assessment. For reelection in the upcoming February presidential elections, Anastasiades badly needs Akıncı’s help. If Akıncı lends him a helping hand by agreeing to resume talks based on the “Guterres points” he will be able to tell the electorate he said no at Crans-Montana to get more from the Turkish side.
Tactical maneuvers, that’s all, otherwise, Anastasiades is as stubborn and as distant to a settlement idea as he ever was.
The so-called “federalists” in Northern Cyprus have been demanding Akıncı to accept a return to the federation-aimed process declaring they would never ever accept a two-state resolution. However, more than 50 years of talks must be sufficient enough to understand the disinterest of the Greek Cypriot side in power sharing on the basis of political equality. Did Anastasiades not say a minority cannot rule on the majority as the majority should not be expected to succumb to the minority? He definitely could not grasp what federation is or not willing at all to understand what political equality of component elements ought to be.
Cyprus is a tiny republic with a population just more than one million, even if Turks are included. It is a member of the European Union and as such, enjoys full political equality with all other members, big and small, or the giants of the family—Germany, France and the outgoing Britain. Anastasiades’s approach not only contradicts the notion of federation, it is against EU norms as well.
Two states in the EU, perhaps, help Greek Cypriots understand why there ought to be “equality” of the two people of the island in soul and flesh. Two states in the EU, anyhow, will be an effective federation or confederation of the two people of the island under the EU roof and as such, there will neither be a rotation, hated by Anastasiades, nor an issue of Turkish troops, as they will all be in the northern Turkish Cypriot area. Nor will the four freedoms for Turkish citizens be a problem either, as the issue will be confined to northern Cyprus.