UN Special Envoy Jane Holl Lute 15 Oct submitted report to UN Secretary-General Guterres reportedly stating that “prospects of comprehensive settlement between the communities on the island remain alive”. Came after discussions between Turkish FM Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Turkish Cypriot “foreign minister” Kudret Özersay and Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades on sidelines of UN General Assembly late Sept on alternative solution proposals to “bi-zonal and bi-communal federation”, reportedly discussing new formats including “confederation”, “loose federation” and “decentralised federation”. UN Security Council 30 Oct welcomed report and Guterres’ decision to continue efforts to resume negotiations. Lute met with Anastasiades and Akinci 31 Oct. Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci 26 Oct agreed to open two new border crossings along buffer zone at Dherynia/Derinya and Lefka/Aplici 12 Nov. Tensions over hydrocarbon explorations continued; Greek Cypriot administration 3 Oct invited international energy companies to bid on exploration licence in Block 7 of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), prompting harsh criticism from Ankara, which said move violated Turkish Cypriots’ “inalienable rights to natural resources”. ExxonMobil 5 Oct said it was still planning drilling activities in Republic of Cyprus’ EEZ in 2018.
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and at a time when both could benefit from a foreign policy success, Greece and Turkey should settle their expensive, outdated and stressful stand-off over Aegean Sea maritime zones and related issues.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