UN continued efforts to rejuvenate stalled Cyprus reunification talks, while tensions grew over gas drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean. Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı 6 Oct expressed desire for tripartite meeting with UN Secretary-General and five-party conference with guarantor powers by year-end; Republic of Cyprus govt 12 Oct announced willingness to hold tripartite meeting with UN Secretary-General and Akıncı. Leaders agreed to UN Secretary-General Guterres’ proposal for informal tripartite meeting to be held in Berlin 25 Nov. Following 5 Oct arrival of Turkish drilling vessel Yavuz at area the Republic of Cyprus claims is within its Exclusive Economic Zone, govt demanded Turkey “immediately cease illegal actions” and threatened to issue international arrest warrants for workers on vessel. Two French frigates en route to Syria 12 Oct conducted naval manoeuvres with Republic of Cyprus military.
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and at a time when both could benefit from a foreign policy success, Greece and Turkey should settle their expensive, outdated and stressful stand-off over Aegean Sea maritime zones and related issues.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