Greek Cypriot parliament 10 Feb approved proposal by far-right National Popular Front Party (ELAM) for yearly celebration in schools of 1950 referendum which approved Union with Greece (“Enosis Day”). Greek Cypriot President Anastasiades 13 Feb said parliament’s approval of ELAM proposal, which he called “unfortunate”, did not constitute change of policy, should not undermine sincere Greek Cypriot intentions of reunification. Turkish Cypriot leader Akıncı 15 Feb demanded Enosis law be repealed. Russian ambassador to Cyprus early Feb attended seminar in Nicosia convened by hard-line Greek Cypriot politicians opposing deal, prompting concerns over Russian involvement in talks and criticism from Anastasiades. Meeting scheduled for early March cancelled, not clear when/if new round of talks will resume.
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and at a time when both could benefit from a foreign policy success, Greece and Turkey should settle their expensive, outdated and stressful stand-off over Aegean Sea maritime zones and related issues.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