Amid impasse in negotiations, UN Special Envoy Kai Eide 15 March met Greek Cypriot President Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Akıncı to try and restart talks; sides agreed to joint dinner 2 April. Anastasiades 7 March blamed Turkey for recent lack of progress in talks, referring to Turkish military presence on island and Turkey’s 16 April constitutional referendum; reiterated demand for withdrawal of Turkish troops from island while acknowledging that “complete and immediate withdrawal of the Turkish troops is not possible”. Greek Cypriot and Israeli armed forces 20-22 March conducted military drill in Cyprus; Greek Cypriot govt reportedly filed complaint with UN after Turkey 19 March conducted military drill in Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone, days after Greek Cypriot govt designated new area for gas exploration.
To avoid another failed effort at federal reunification in the new round of Cyprus negotiations, all sides should break old taboos and discuss all possible options, including independence for Turkish Cypriots within the European Union.
Though newly discovered gas reserves off Cyprus are currently driving the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities further apart, they could offer both newfound wealth if, together with Turkey, they would start a new dialogue.
To capitalise on twelve years of normalisation, and at a time when both could benefit from a foreign policy success, Greece and Turkey should settle their expensive, outdated and stressful stand-off over Aegean Sea maritime zones and related issues.
With stalemate looming in the UN-sponsored Cyprus reunification negotiations, parties to the dispute need to take dramatic, unilateral steps to break the decades-long distrust that is suffocating them.
Stability in the Eastern Mediterranean will remain hostage to full settlement of the Cyprus dispute, but the property issue – one of its most intractable knots – can be solved now if Greek and Turkish Cypriots compromise on new proposals currently before them.
Three decades of efforts to reunify Cyprus are about to end, leaving a stark choice ahead between a hostile, de facto partition of the island and a collaborative federation between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities living in two constituent states.
Originally published in Transatlantic Academy
Originally published in The Majalla
Originally published in IP Journal