UN-backed Conference on Cyprus took place in Geneva 9-12 Jan, with participation of Greek-Cypriot President Anastasiades and Turkish-Cypriot leader Akıncı, FMs of guarantor powers Greece, Turkey and UK, plus EU as observer. Participants discussed issues of security and guarantees, and exchanged territorial adjustment maps for first time. Territorial maps showed considerable points of agreement, with Greek Cypriots’ version showing Turkish entity comprising 28.2% compared with 29.2% on Turkish Cypriots’ version; disagreement also centred on specific sites including town of Morphou. On internal security in transitional period, Anastasiades suggested formation of international police force in which Turkish Cypriots could participate; Ankara said it could not accept EU as force provider. Turkish President Erdoğan 13 Jan said Turkey should maintain troops on island; Athens insisted on complete withdrawal. Deputies-level working group met 18-20 Jan to identify questions on security and security guarantees and instruments needed to address them; UN said talks a success but gave no details. Anastasiades and Akıncı met again in Cyprus 26 Jan and agreed to resume talks on all six chapters 1 Feb. UNSC 26 Jan extended UN peacekeeping mission in Cyprus for six months. European Bank for Reconstruction and Development 24 Jan said ready to invest in N Cyprus if deal can be reached.
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and at a time when both could benefit from a foreign policy success, Greece and Turkey should settle their expensive, outdated and stressful stand-off over Aegean Sea maritime zones and related issues.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