Cyprus Resolution Failed Again

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By Naveed Qazi | Editor, Globe Up Front

It seemed that Cypriot leaders would finally break the ice for a settlement. In a series of negotiations from June 28th to  July 7th this year, Nicos Anastasiades, Cyprus’s president and Mustafa Akinci, his Turkish-Cypriot counterpart, were determined to reunite the divided island. But the deal unexpectedly turned into a failure. 

In the Swiss town of Crans Montana, the prospect of broking a deal for resolution of Cyprus dispute was high. An enthusiastic debate on dinner at the Swiss Alpine Resort stretched throughout the night.  

The deal had eventually turned into a failure because the arduous talks on power sharing arrangements, reshaping territorial boundaries and several economic agendas of the Cypriot State were declared unsuccessful.

Many fear that it could have been the last chance for the country for a successful political resolution. Before this, in 2004, there had been a chance for a political solution when Cyprus entered into the European Union.

President of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades had called for total withdrawal of Turkish troops. But after the failed talks, altering the presence of troops still remains a distant dream.

Leaders of both sides (Turkish and Greek sides of Cyprus) met under UN mediation with the foreign ministers of Greece, Turkey and Britain (the colonial superpower governed the island from 1878 to 1960 and still retains military bases there). A European Union representative was also an observer.

In terms of duration, many compare the Cyprus dispute with the Israeli- Palestinian dispute. In the past, the UN Security Council, in numerous resolutions, has set the framework of a Cyprus solution, which has to be a “bi-zonal” state with a separate parliament and a “bi-communal federation" with equal political rights for the two Cypriot communities.

Geographically, it is the Greek Cypriots that occupy the larger area in the south. UN monitors a buffer zone between the two communities that is called as the Green Line. This line separates the north of the country from the south. Some 10,000 people live in several villages and work on farms located within this demilitarised buffer zone. The village of Pyla is famous for being the only village in the zone where original Greek and Turkish Cypriots live side by side.

In current times, there seems to be a less recognition of Northern Cyprus internationally. Many political analysts believe that the presence of Turkish troops, roughly 30,000, who cover 37% of the northern island, to be a human rights violation. Many see them as ‘occupiers’ in a EU member country. This presence of troops also gives outside powers such as Turkey a political advantage.  The country even self declared the area as Republic of Northern Cyprus, but Turkey cannot annex it in present times.

In the past, the Cyprus dispute was mainly seen as a dispute between the people of Cyprus and the British colonial empire for self-determination. The British had annexed the island from the Ottoman Empire. But as times changed, the dispute was mainly seen as an ethnic dispute between Greeks and Turks living on the island.

The history of the island reflects a blood feud. Historically, the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974 had happened soon after the successful military coup by the Cyprus National Guards, aided by Greek military junta to install a Greek irredentist nationalist regime in the country. It was a plot to annex the island as part of the Republic of Greece.

In the year of 1964, Cyprus and Turkey had also engaged in direct confrontation during the Battle of Tylliriaas a civil warfare between the ethnic Greek and Turkish Cypriots. Therefore, historical relevance for the resolution carries significance. Cypriot Turks living on the island have been seen as a repressed minority mainly in the 1960’s.

Yearning for peace, a communal gathering had happened lately, in the heart of capital of Nicosia, on the crossing point between the Greek and Turkish sectors by 85 parties. It consisted of trade unions and civil society groups of both communities. They had called the community leaders to reach an agreement according to the wishes of the people.

Before the failed agreement, the activists had even signed a declaration stating that the common vision of Greek and Turkish Cypriots is the only deal that is legitimate and will lead to the reunification and peaceful coexistence in Cyprus. Therefore, many Cypriots still seem to be optimistic about a solution even after 43 years of separation since 1973. But their aspirations, unfortunately, have been repeatedly falling upon deaf ears.

There are different perceptions too. If one goes by the general perception of many individuals inside the country, the people of Greek Cypriot side are against separation of their country. However, young Cypriots who were born after the partition are not interested in reunification anymore.

The leaders who come from the Greek Cypriot side want Turkey to step down as a guarantor for the solution. They rather want European Union to be the guarantor of the security in their country, as they are of a political opinion that the security of one group can’t be overlooked at the cost of other group’s security.

Turkey, contrarily, believes that their inclusion in the solution is necessary and they want to continue its military presence. They blame the failure of the recent diplomatic effort on the Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and the leaders of the Greek Cypriot side.

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