Why a Turkish guarantee in Cyprus is a must
There is a proverb in Turkish, the direct translation of which might be “A bad development is sometimes better than a thousand words of good advice.” The decision of the Greek Cypriot House of Representatives to commemorate the anniversary 1950 “enosis” (union with Greece) plebiscite at schools is one of those bad developments that could be described as “better now than tomorrow.”
Were the supporters of the “enosis commemoration” draft unaware of how the Turkish Cypriot people, who once suffered from that Greek Cypriot ultra-nationalist utopia, would perceive it? Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı has been very empathetic towards the Greek Cypriots – so much so that many of his compatriots, including this writer, have been condemning him for trying to understand Greek Cypriot positions at the expense of ignoring Turkish Cyprus’ vital interests. If even Akıncı could be antagonized with an undertaking of the Greek Cypriot side, the situation must be very serious one. If there was a sober and pro-settlement leader on the Greek Cypriot side, should he not have calculated all these developments before letting his party men support the draft at the committee meeting and lend it passive support at the plenary session of parliament by abstaining and letting it become law?
Even at that point, after seeing that the development united the entire Turkish Cypriot people – a very rare thing – and even the most pro-settlement segments of the society joined the skeptics and the traditional anti-settlement groups in deploring the enosis resolution as a hostile effort unconducive to peace making, why would not Anastasiades tried to soothe Turkish Cypriot worries? Why could not he develop some empathy and try for a change to understand sentiments of Turkish Cypriots?
Can anyone say Akıncı was wrong in stressing that as Anastasiades, who blew up the talks by banging the door and leaving the meeting room – apparently for a 45-minute cigarette and alcohol recess – should now find a way to get the talks to resume? Is it not clear what Akıncı has been saying? For the resumption of the talks, Anastasiades needs to do two things: He must publicly apologize for his impolite and insolent behavior to his negotiation counterpart, the elected leader of Turkish Cypriots. And he must find a way to rewind the enosis commemoration provocation. If the commemoration resolution did not require his approval, his Democratic Rally Party (DISI) has 18 seats in the 56-seat legislature, while the socialist Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL) has 16 seats. Even if the rest vote against it, a DISI and AKEL joint action could easily defeat the fascist National Popular Front (ELAM) and its alliance of opportunists that staged this provocative act.
Can Anastasiades do either of these? No. Why? Because presidential elections are approaching and the 3 percent vote of the ELAM will be of crucial importance in a closely contested presidential race. After all, was not the DISI of Anastasiades a party established by former members of the Ethniki Organosis Kyprion Agoniston, or National Organization of Cypriot Fighters (EOKA)? How could he “betray” his former comrades in arms by opposing the commemoration of enosis?
However, enosis and EOKA should be bad memories that the Greek Cypriots bury in the past if they want to form a new togetherness of any sort with the Turkish Cypriot people. Anastasiades has been unable to realize that, instead opting to take a hypocritical approach. Talking of building a common federal future with Akıncı while at the same appeasing the “best Turk is a dead Turk” aspirations of the enosis-worshipping fascists and their opportunistic alliance cannot be possible.
In a reunited Cyprus, irrespective of whether Anastasiades and the ELAM coalition are able to understand or not, there will be two ethnically different people, two separate religions, languages, histories and cultures.
Of course, the Greek Cypriots are right to complain that the Turkish Cypriots should stop the commemoration of Aug. 1, 1958, the founding of the Turkish Cypriot Resistance Organization (TMT), the July 20 anniversary of the 1974 intervention, or other nationalist commemorations. In a federal Cyprus, which of the Turkish and Greek Cypriot anniversaries might be celebrated could be clarified in a resolution agreement. But will the inclusion of such clauses be enough to defuse probable tensions tomorrow? Unfortunately not.
Akıncı has accepted such concessions that if the current process matures to a federation deal, there will be a Greek Cypriot state in southern Cyprus, a Turkish-Greek Cypriot state in the north, and a Greek-Turkish Cypriot federation umbrella. The northern state will have a population of as many as 20 percent Greek Cypriot residents. Under the cross-voting system, there will be a 20 percent impact of weighted Greek Cypriot votes on the election of the Turkish Cypriot leader. All Cypriots will be able to enjoy freedom of settlement, of owning property, of travelling and of doing business all around the island. That means there will be no “by-zonality” or “by-communality” in the new federation, although the founding agreement might say so. Similarly, there will either be no Turkish guarantee or the Turkish guarantee will be limited for a period of time.
What will happen tomorrow if an ELAM mentality - either alone or in coalition with some opportunist partners - comes to power in the Greek Cypriot state and dominates the federal governance? Will the Turkish Cypriots be as lucky as they were in the 1963-1974 period to survive the attacks and reach a beautiful July 20 morning one day to embrace saviors parachuting down from the blue sky? As even Greek Cypriot newspaper commentators have started to admit, Turkey’s security guaranty is as important for the Greek Cypriots as it is for the Turkish Cypriots.
Will Akıncı and Anastasiades resume the talks on Thursday (Feb. 23)? Indeed, does the solution process have any importance at this point? With the Greek Cypriot presidential elections in February next year, probable Turkish Cypriot early parliamentary elections this fall, a referendum in Turkey in April, and a probable early parliamentary election in September, there are too many obstacles. For at least one year the Cyprus talks are in the fridge.