Month saw signs of interest on part of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders in possible resumption of reunification talks. At request of govt of Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, UN Secretary-General Guterres 2 May appointed temporary envoy Jane Holl Lute to oversee possibility of resuming talks; UN said full-time special envoy to be appointed only if talks resume; Ankara yet to approve Holl Lute’s appointment. Turkish foreign ministry 3 May stated “a new path should be tried”. Greek Cypriot negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis said there was no alternative to reunification. Amid ongoing hydrocarbons dispute, Anastasiades met Greek PM Tsipras and Israeli PM Netanyahu 8 May for fourth trilateral summit on Eastern Mediterranean pipeline project and energy cooperation; Tsipras said project “not just about energy but the highest level of geostrategic cooperation”. Turkish Cypriot leader Akıncı 9 May said summit excluding his and Turkey’s govts was not “a peace route”.
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and at a time when both could benefit from a foreign policy success, Greece and Turkey should settle their expensive, outdated and stressful stand-off over Aegean Sea maritime zones and related issues.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