What to expect from Geneva?
The achievement of a political settlement, irrespective of its name or form, between the two peoples of the island of Cyprus will bring a great economic reward to the two peoples, as well as to all countries in the region, including particularly Turkey and Greece. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, like former secretary-generals Boutros Boutros-Ghali and Kofi Annan, has been stressing this view in communication with the parties and has long emphasized this situation in the analysis of various international think tanks.
Of course, the spread of the news and comments about what will be the great economic reward of an agreement to be reached on the island at the 5+1 “informal” April 27-29 Cyprus conference is not without a reason. Especially if one of the parties takes an absurd line, saying “we won’t discuss anything other than the federation, but there are also preconditions that ought to be met before we may agree to give political equality to Turks,” then we can say that failure is almost certain. No one is asking them to give the Turkish Cypriots political equality. The Turkish Cypriots have political equality and are now demanding sovereign equality. Likewise, if one of the parties says that “we are coming to explain why there can’t be a federation on Cyprus, why there ought to be a two-state solution. We shall not talk about anything else,” then failure is again certain; the Geneva summit will be a waste of time and resources.
If one of the parties insists, among other conditions, saying that “guarantees must end; Turkish troops should withdraw; Varosha and Morphou (Güzelyurt) should be returned; the Turkish side should be able to go down to 28.2 percent of the territory, and all migrants should be able to return home,” this attitude is clearly a “non-starter” as well. Of course, an attitude such as “we do not talk guarantees; soldiers may withdraw gradually, but the size to provide security of the Turkish Cypriots must be maintained; we do not make territorial concessions; we may only make some border arrangements, and there is no return of the Greeks to the north” is another way of saying clearly that “I have no intention of making a compromise.” For a solution, both sides must be ready to make some really painful concessions and compromises.
However, answering one question will shape the future of the process and the prospect of a resolution. Whether it is a unitary state in the 1960-style de facto federation, or two states within the EU – an indirect federation—or a confederation of two states, basically will be established on the separate sovereignty of the two peoples; sharing of power. These two founding peoples of the new resolution must have the right to self-determination to decide their own future separately, and if there arises a situation like that of the 1963-1974 period genocidal campaigns on the Turkish Cypriots again, both peoples must be capable to determine their own future. Guterres and international actors who want to contribute to a solution on the island have to take this into account if they want to achieve a successful result.
If the Greek Cypriots, who should be proud of having a remarkable history of being the spoilt child of Europe, continue not to have an interest in a solution, and if they don’t want to share the title of the island’s only legitimate government with the Turkish Cypriots on the ground that there was “nothing for us” in a deal, then the only way to get a successful result is by putting on the table what kind of bill they might pay if there is no solution this time as well. Recognition of the Turkish Cypriot state might not be possible for now, but at least the now non-EU United Kingdom and some other countries who are not handcuffed with the “club solidarity” requirement of the EU might whisper into the Greek Cypriots’ ears that they might allow civilian charter and private flights to North Cyprus, for instance. That will be enough to generate them to become more forthcoming this time.
Blackmailing Turkey with sanctions and closing eyes to spoiled attitudes of the Greek Cypriots will serve no purpose other than yet another impasse in Cyprus talks. Rather than offering carrots and trying to lure people with “good prospects” the Greek Cypriots must be shown the stick as well.