Trying to forge dialogue on possible resumption of reunification talks, UN Special Envoy Jane Holl Lute met separately with Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı early Feb, as well as with representatives of guarantor states; discussed terms of reference for resumption of talks and issues related to guarantor states but no progress reported. Anastasiades and Akıncı came together at informal meeting hosted by the UN 26 Feb. Tensions over hydrocarbon explorations in Eastern Mediterranean continued; ExxonMobil reportedly expected to announce finding of major gas resources as a result of three months of explorations in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which could further increase tensions.
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and at a time when both could benefit from a foreign policy success, Greece and Turkey should settle their expensive, outdated and stressful stand-off over Aegean Sea maritime zones and related issues.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