Cyprus: Two separate states, or a unified state on the horizon?

Lale Kemal
Turkey has long been considering the possible negative implications of declaring to the world that the search for a peaceful solution on an almost 43-year-old divided Cyprus will not yield any result if a solution cannot be found to the problem.
In other words, I understand that if a solution based on a united Cyprus that will bring the Turkish and the Greek Cypriot communities under the umbrella of a single state is not reached, Ankara is prepared to bring to the agenda dividing the island into two independent states. The international community and the big powers such as the US and influential members of the European Union, however, are expected to resist such a decision by Turkey.
Turkey has reportedly begun signaling that if a solution to the problem of this tiny Mediterranean island of Cyprus is not found later this year or early next year, division of Cyprus into two separate states is inevitable.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davuto?lu, on a visit to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC), a breakaway state recognized only by Turkey, on July 9, came up with the following idea: “Our target is an agreement [on the ongoing talks on the reunification of the island] on Cyprus that will be followed by a referendum in the first few months of 2012. Therefore, a united Cyprus state can assume the EU term presidency in the second half of 2012.”
Turkey does not recognize the Greek Cypriot administration as a state despite that is was admitted to the EU in 2004 as the sole representative of Cyprus. The EU decision came despite the fact that Turkish Cypriots approved overwhelmingly a Cyprus peace proposal that was intended to unite Cyprus under a single state where the sovereignty rights of both communities would be respected. Greek Cypriots rejected the peace proposal during the same referendum of 2004. Despite this fact, the EU made a grave mistake by making the Greek Cypriot side a member of the union solely representing the island. Therefore, any leverage that could be used over the Greek Cypriots to agree on a United Nations peace plan over a united Cyprus state disappeared.

It would have had been naive to expect from the Greek Cypriot administration after being accepted to the EU as a full member, to agree on any solution that would have had respected Turkish Cypriots being their equal partners under a federal solution.

Turkey’s full membership negotiations also stalled when Ankara rejected to open its ports and airspace for the Greek Cypriot administration that it did not recognize. However, deadlock on Turkish membership talks stem mostly from the explicit rejection of mainly Germany and France to Turkey having full membership status in the EU. Instead these countries suggest a privileged partnership status to be given to Turkey which it categorically rejects.

The EU’s reluctance to accept Turkey together with Turkey loosing its appetite toward joining the EU due to the union’s negative stance toward Ankara has slowed down Turkish efforts to meet the union’s democratic criteria set forth.

At the end of the day, Turkey has been taken hostage by the Cyprus issue for a long time in its dealings with both Europe and NATO of which it is a member.

Turkey has long based its policy on the unresolved status of the island. This has played into the hands of the big powers within the UN Security Council such as Russia, which has backed Greek Cypriots as a means to corner Turkey on other issues related to bilateral ties such as the power game in the Caucuses and Central Asia.

Going back to Turkish Foreign Minister Davuto?lu’s latest initiative on Cyprus in which he hinted at a deadline for the final solution to the Cyprus dispute by suggesting a referendum for the early months of next year, the minister has also been showing signs of Turkish frustration.

The Greek Cypriot administration will assume its term as EU president in the second half of 2012 for six months. During that period it will be inevitable that Turkish-EU relations will be further strained.

Davuto?lu made clear in his July 9 speech in the KKTC that Turkey wants a unified Cyprus set up by  the Turkish and the Greek Cypriots to assume EU presidency. He did not say what the possible repercussions would be if this does not happen. I guess what may happen, most likely, is that Turkey will declare to the world that the search for a peaceful solution for a united Cyprus has failed if a united Cyprus (both Turkish and the Greek Cypriots) does not take the presidency of the EU.

The current Turkish government initiated a process in 2004 that saw a shift in the paradigm, not only on Cyprus, but also on all the other foreign policy issues that have yielded positive results by Turkey creating good relations with all of its neighbors. When turkey changed its policy on Cyrpus, it encouraged the majority of Turkish Cypriots to approve a peace agreement in 2004. But the Greek Cypriots rejected that proposal.

The possible referendum that will be held on the island in the first few months of next year on a Cyprus peace proposal, if it is reached, will either lead to the creation of a united Cyprus state or to the separation of the two communities forever as two separate states.

All the parties interested should prepare themselves for a permanently divided Cyprus with two separate states, if the Greek Cypriots continue to reject any peaceful solution.

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