Time to think of something new on Cyprus
The idea that it is now high time to start second track diplomacy to find alternative modalities for a settlement on Cyprus created some enthusiasm among those who were indeed interested in a settlement on the eastern Mediterranean island. If it was once again clearly demonstrated last July at the Crans-Montana round of five-party Cyprus talks that the Greek Cypriot people have no intention of sharing power with Turkish Cypriots, it ought to be clear there cannot be a federal Cyprus resolution.
In the evening of the July 5-6 Crans-Montana talks, Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiades stressed the unpreparedness of his people to share power with Turkish Cypriots. He said even if he agreed to a rotation of presidency he would not be able to gain support for it from his people at a referendum. He knew well Turkey had made some unthinkable offers, although verbally, regarding guarantees and the number of Turkish troops on the island. These offers were in line with his maximalist expectations. He knew well that neither Ankara nor Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı would put them in writing until the time came for final signatures on a comprehensive package. Thus, complaining that Turkey did not put in writing what he had verbally agreed to, he intentionally pushed talks into an inconclusive end.
It is apparent that a new exercise will be forced on Cyprus irrespective of what the two leaders might wish. If the target remains to establish a Cyprus federation, this new effort will most likely be as inconclusive and unavailing as all similar efforts of the past half century since the 1968 start of Cyprus talks at a Beirut hotel. Even those adamantly remaining blind to the bitter reality, have emerged from the Crans-Montana talks privately discussing what to do now and how to have a successful exercise.
It is a fact that Anastasiades made a process collapse despite the defeatist Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı’s readiness to embrace a face-saving formula. Akıncı’s supporters claim the Turkish Cypriot leader embraced risks for the sake of a federal deal but unfortunately, the free ride he offered to Anastasiades made talks collapse at Crans-Montana where the Greek Cypriot leader wanted to get everything he wanted without a cost. If there was a possibility of a federal deal even for a minute, Akıncı’s defeatist attitude helped Anastasiades kill it. The even more defeatist chief negotiator Özdil Nami made things worse by constantly talking about a discernable resolution while the two sides were so far apart on all fundamental issues.
Now, it is time to talk of a new and realistic target. Greek Cypriots want a unitary state with Turkish Cypriots having some advanced minority rights and certain quotas in governance. That’s what they want to describe as a federation. Turkish Cypriots want two constituent states united in a loose federal government with limited powers. All residual sovereign powers should rest with the two constituent states. So, while Greek Cypriots try to fool Turkish Cypriots that there will be a federal resolution, meanwhile trying to keep them under the existing unitary state, Turkish Cypriots try to make Greeks believe the confederation they want to achieve could be described as a federation.
Like what they did after the 1974 intervention, with the help of the intellectual capabilities of the two people of the island, it is now high time to reconsider a workable and sustainable resolution. Confederation? Probable. Two states in the European Union? Perhaps the best option.
Akıncı and his team should stop spinning. It was Akıncı who complained to the United Nations chief that even if a deal was made, it would not be sustainable unless Greek Cypriots underwent a mental reform. He knew Anastasiades considered the deal appropriate but the Greek Cypriot leader had confessed the Greek Cypriots would never agree to the rotation of presidency.
If a settlement is wanted, the first task to be dealt with must be power sharing. If power sharing is not possible in a federation, is there a meaning in trying to solve territorial aspects, guarantees or other issues?