SALZBURG GLOBAL SEMINAR
May 9-13, Salzburg, Austria
Prof. Dr. Ata ATUN
The Cyprus problem remaining unresolved seems in the first instance to be an obstacle to Turkey’s negotiations with the EU for accession.
Actually the facts and realities in the island are rather different from the way they are seen from Europe.
The “bi-zonal, bi-communal federation based on the political equality of the Greek and Turkish people, formed by Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot constituent states of equal status” framework set by the United Nations during the late seventies, aiming to achieve a sustainable and a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem, actually does not, any more, reflect the realities of the island.
A large segment of the Greek Cypriot people have little affection for their Turkish Cypriot compatriots, many psychologically unprepared to even hear them mentioned let alone treat them as equals. This of course complicates an already complex situation.
The lack of respect and empathy between the two communities was such in the 1960s that inter-communal violence, initiated by the Greek Cypriots , erupted and culminated with massacres taking place throughout the island, forcing the United Nations to send in peacekeepers in March 4, 1964.
Contrary to the widely believed, misleading information that the island was divided after the Turkish intervention in 1974 the truth is that the island was divided in 1958.
April 1st 1955 saw the foundation of EOKA, which was not actually seeking independence as it claimed. If that had been the case the Turkish Cypriots on the island and Turkey would have accepted this. EOKAs goal was “Enosis”, union with Greece, even though the Greek mainland is 800 km away to the west, however the Turkish coast is only 75 km away north bounds.
Neither the Turkish Cypriots nor Ankara accepted Enosis and eventually the island, after inter-communal clashes, divided initially in 1958. The division was ossified during the December 1963 events and the “Green Line” was drawn by Colonel Peter, the then commander of the British troops in the island, with a green pencil on the map. After the severe inter-communal clashes, the UN troops finally set foot on the island in May 1964, after UN Security Council Resolution No. 186 was taken out on March 4th, 1964.
The division between the two people of the island was also distinctive in the social life. No intermarriages took place for centuries and still the same.
The Turkish Cypriots lost thousands of their kinsmen and women, they also lost their hopes, their future, their past and lived under inhuman conditions with no food, no water, no home, no electricity, no money, no jobs and no hope for the future, under the genocide exerted by the then Makarios Government during the dark ages, which lasted from 1963 to 1974.
The island was invaded by the Greek army of Greece from 1964 to 1967 and severe clashed took place between Greek Cypriots backed with troops from Greece and Turkish Cypriots. Finally The Security Council, at a meeting on 22 December 1967, adopted resolution 244 (1967) calling Greek national troops to be withdrawn from Cyprus. This withdrawal never fulfilled completely and the consequences of it was the July 15, 1974 Coupe de Eta against Makarios by the Greek soldiers and officers still remaining in the island.
The Main Issue
There is no instrument to motivate the Greek-Cypriots on the negotiation table. At this crucial stage, the mission that should be fulfilled by the EU has never been understood by the member countries or the Union itself. This ineffectiveness forced the negotiations for a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem, which ended up unsuccessful and played a significant role in the victory of Mr. Eroglu.
But even today, a forward step towards the lifting of the embargoes and to fulfill the post-2004 promises of the EU and others, on “Direct Trade” for the Turkish Cypriots would be quite an important step towards the solution and may be meaningful and operable. The only way to break down the existing belief of Turkish Cypriots that the “EU is not earnest and made a phony promise just to give support to a certain Turkish Cypriot politician” would be this forward step.
This step would compel and motivate the Greek Cypriots towards a solution. And if in the long run, if it causes an increase in the eastern Mediterranean trade due to the opening of the Turkish air and sea ports to the vessels and planes bearing the flag of the Cyprus Republic, it may give a significant push to the creation of confidence between the two peoples of Cyprus. This is one of the very important points which is desperately needed in Cyprus.
The obverse of the presidential elections looks quite different. If the result of this election is analyzed in depth, it can be easily understood that the victory of Mr. Eroglu will be a constructive factor to a comprehensive and sustainable solution to the Cyprus problem. Ethnic clashes and the breach of peace actually took place among the nationalists of both Greek and Turkish Cypriots of the island. To reach a sustainable and a long lasting comprehensive solution, peace is needed in between the nationalists of both people. It was merely impossible for Mr. Talat to accomplish this mission. On the other hand Mr. Eroglu is quite a dependable character for the Turkish Cypriot nationalists and this distinction will add leverage to a solution to the Cyprus problem, in the Turkish side.
It will be quite deceptive to popularize the “Who said No to Annan Plan” matter. Even when evaluating the case from this popularized understanding, the outcome will inevitably be “Mr. Christofias voted NO to this plan and now for a solution alike to Annan Plan, there are ‘two NO voters’ on the negotiation table”.
What EU may do
The AK (Justice and development Party) Party government of Turkey in power since 2002, is nearly three steps ahead of Greece and Greek Cypriots. By opening up five check points for free passage on April 23, 2003, supporting the Annan Plan on April 24, 2004 and encouraging the than president of TRNC, Mr. Talat to work for a compromise in the ongoing negotiations, initially with Mr. Papadopulos and than Mr. Christofias. The EU should exert pressure on Greek Cypriots and Greece, who both seem reluctant since the beginning of the talks in 1968.
To lessen the mistrust between the two peoples of Cyprus, the EU should organize an international conference inviting the two peoples of the island and their motherlands, all on an equal basis, to initiate a process to settle the everlasting Cyprus Dispute.
The European Parliament should follow the lead of the European Commission and start work to fulfill the EU's April 2004 promise of “Direct Trade” for the Turkish Cypriots. Passing this regulation may lead to a further constructive step by Turkey to open its seaports and airports to Cypriot vessels and planes, and the European Union would then lift the Cyprus-related blocks on eight of Turkey's EU negotiating chapters. This will end the constrained vicious circle and build good relations with Turkey.
These precautions will give a push to the negotiations pushing them towards a sustainable solution. If the EU cannot exert pressure on the Greek Cypriot side for a comprehensive solution on the ongoing negotiations, than a significant partition in the island will be inevitable. Turkey will be faced with a frozen process with the EU and turn its face towards the East rather than the West , and EU-NATO relations will never be as they have been before.
Turkish Cypriots are seeking a “bi-communal bi-zonal federal solution” which ensures equality and security between both parties. This federal partnership will be comprised of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot constituent states of equal status. It will have a single international personality and in principle, single citizenship and sovereignty, details of which are to be negotiated at the table. These commitments are important since it is the first time these have been underlined and accepted by the leaders of the two Peoples, although these were never accepted and established among UN parameters before.
Turkey’s guarantees and the Treaty of Alliance are both the red lines of Turkish Cypriots and they should continue without any change as it was agreed on Zürich and London Agreements, 1959. The disturbance of Turkish Cypriots on guarantees goes back to 1963, where they experienced a harsh genocide exerted by the Greek Government. This lasted for 11 years and the Turkish Cypriots were finally freed by the intervention of motherland Turkey in 1974.
The latest poll titled “2009 Cyprus Barometer” held in the Greek side of the island by Rai Consultants Public Ltd. on behalf of Marfin Laiki Bank, revealed the fact that 65% of the Greek Cypriots do not wish to live together with the Turkish Cypriots under a single state, whether it is a Federation or something similar. The same results come out from the Turkish side more or less in the same percentage as well.
This means a “United State” or a “Federal State” composed of Turkish and Greeks Cypriots is merely a pipe dream, which has no hope of a long life. After couple of years things will go back to December 21, 1963 when the inter-communal clashes or rather a “Civil War” was started decades ago.
Question to audiences
If there is no promising or a heartwarming solution plan on the negotiation table , where both peoples of the island would not say “Yes” to cheerfully, like the Annan Plan, and taking into consideration the 42 years of negotiations with no significant result, then don’t you think now that it is the time for the great powers of the world to think of a solution other than the “bi-zonal, bi-communal Federation” which was agreed upon in the late seventies.