White, black, gray of Cyprus

White, black, gray of Cyprus

Without doubt, no term was left politically uncontaminated after more than four decades of inter-communal talks. If one describes yoghurt as a white dairy product; the other would definitely claim it is black, not even gray. At the least cream of yoghurt is yellowish, is it not?

Indeed, sometimes, there might be more than one truth or reality depending on which perspective an issue is approached from. If the Cyprus issue is approached, for example, as an “equality” problem of the two peoples of the island, some may come up with a simplistic “one man, one vote” approach and condemn Turkish Cypriots to the eternal deprivation of their right to sovereignty. Some others may come up with “communal equality” principle and say not individuals, but irrespective of their sizes, the two communities should share 50/50 sovereignty of the island. That would as well be a gross injustice to the community that constitutes, let’s say, 75 percent of the island’s population.

The issue, however, could be simply resolved taking into consideration both realities. That was what the 2004 plan foresaw. The lower chamber would be composed of deputies sent by the two constituent states on the basis of seven to three, taking into consideration the sizes of the population of the two communities. The upper house, however, would be constituted of an equal number of senators sent by the two constituencies, representing the equality of the two constituent states. That was how such a delicate twin-reality was addressed by the Annan plan in 2004. Today, negotiators may come up with some brighter alternative formulae on the issue, but I frankly do not see what further ground they might cover. After more than four decades of talks, so many failed peace plans and many paper exchanges, it has become one of the agreed parameters of resolution that natural resources, including offshore riches, would be under federal control. How will such resources be shared? On the basis of the sizes of the communities, which is seven to three, or the equality of the two constituent entities, which is 50/50? The inclination at the talks was 7/3, but the Greeks – without even thinking to ask for the consent of their Turkish partners – now want to mortgage such resources to finance their crisis. Is there any justice in that?

The property issue is very thorny. The property right of the individual is a fundamental principle. The bi-zonality and bi-communality of the future federation is a fundamental principle that was agreed upon at the high-level meetings of 1977 and 1979. How will it be possible to have bi-zonality and bi-communality when most of the land in the Turkish Cypriot state is given back to Greek owners? However, a global exchange scheme coupled with individual compensation and exchange for first-generation property owners might offer a way out. This issue, because of its humanitarian dimension, requires very delicate handling. But the overall requirements of a bi-zonal and bi-communal state of affairs cannot be compromised either as the issue is of existential importance for the Turkish Cypriot people. We may continue with examples on all intractable aspects of the Cyprus issue.

There is a need to develop the capability of empathy because only when we can see the problem from the eyes of the other will we perhaps be able to understand what grave mistakes produced the Cyprus quagmire; by doing that, we will then be able to resolve it with a humanitarian touch.

If no stone is left unturned and if we all know why we have not been able to solve the issue so far, there is a way to resolve this problem – provided there is will. Can we meet in the gray area?