Recently, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced the appointment of Canadian diplomat Colin Stewart as his new Special Representative for Cyprus and Head of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus. Stewart then arrived on the island, succeeding Elizabeth Spehar, the former head of the same mission. Certainly, the appointment of Stewart is an important step towards a solution to the Cyprus question because it shows that the UN is invested in the resolution of the problem. Despite these measures, no one believes that the problem can be resolved quickly due to the current dynamics on the island.
UN negotiations so far
First of all, it should be noted that many negotiations have been initiated for the solution of the Cyprus issue. Since the start of the peace negotiations in Beirut in 1968, seven UN secretaries general have been in post, including Guterres. Also, during this period, the rulers changed five times on the Turkish side and seven times on the Greek side, including those who are currently in office. However, all attempts at negotiation failed, as the Greeks and Greek Cypriots always gave priority to their unilateral interests. The most obvious example of this argument is the famous Annan plan voted in the 2004 referendum. The plan was in fact accepted by the Turkish side with 65% of the vote but was rejected by the Greek side by 75%.
After 2004, during the final peace negotiations held in Crans-Montana in 2017 by the presidents of the Turkish and Greek Cypriot administrations, under the mediation of the UN Secretary General, the parties reached consensus on many important issues. Despite this, they failed to reach a final solution due to the Greeks’ insistence on the sharing of natural resources, the management system and, more importantly, the issue of “zero soldiers-zero guarantees.” “. In other words, the relentless insistence of the Greek Cypriots at every opportunity is the main reason why the issue has not yet been resolved.
Who wants what on the island?
During the lengthy negotiations, the Turkish side felt that some issues were too vital to be compromised. The most important of these being the continued active guarantee and military presence of Turkey on the island. As a result, Turkey frequently reiterates that Turkish Cypriots have been murdered by Greek Cypriot militants and that the other two guarantor states, the UK and Greece, have remained unresponsive to the violence. Therefore, Turkey gives priority to preventing such events from happening again. For this reason, Turkey maintains that its guarantee and military presence on the island must continue unconditionally.
On the other hand, the Greeks argue that new guarantees for the state must be established and that the military presence on the island must end. In other words, they want the new state to be “independent” in all respects. However, it is not acceptable to demand that Turkey relinquish its right to be a guarantor and its military presence while the pain of past events like the “Bloody Christmas” is still fresh in the collective memory of the Cypriots. Turkish.
Federation or two states?
Many models for solving the Cyprus issue have been on the agenda so far, but most have had little effect as they did not fit the unique political and social structure of the island. As a result, the federation model has been the dominant solution so far, envisioning two different states, geographically separated by north and south, independent in internal affairs but dependent on a single authority in foreign affairs. However, the federation-style peace negotiations under the auspices of the UN have so far failed due to the attitude of the Greek Cypriot side which puts its own interests first. Indeed, because of this reality, after the deadlocked negotiations in Crans-Montana in 2017, the Turkish side convinced itself that this model was no longer functional and began to argue that an alternative should be discussed. .
The model that the Turkish side has openly put on the agenda is based on two separate sovereign states. Accordingly, it is envisaged that the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot administrations, which have lived as two separate states for many years, will recognize each other as separate nations under international law and thus respect the sovereignty of the other. As a result, similar to the velvet separation between Czechs and Slovaks in the past, it is designed in a way that accepts the current order in Cyprus and provides a permanent solution. To put it more clearly, âIf we couldn’t get together for that long, then let’s go our separate waysâ is the essence of this model.
Compared to Turkey, Greece, the Greek Cypriot administration and the European Union are totally against the two-state model, opposing the idea of ââseparating the island forever. What is remarkable, however, is that the island of Cyprus has been politically and socially divided since the 1974 operation. In fact, the Turkish side argues that it is unreasonable to ignore what is clearly already a reality. . In any case, a solution does not seem possible because the parties continue to defend different models at present.
By the way, to shed light on a debate, it should be noted that, contrary to the disinformation efforts of the Greeks and the Greek Cypriots, the UN does not explicitly insist on a federal model to resolve the Cypriot question. In any case, if a solution is to be found, organizations like the UN have no legal status with regard to the issue, which depends entirely on the common will of the parties.
Likewise, the EU, of which Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration are members, does not have the power or the position to impose this on the Turkish side, although institutionally it favors the federation model. Meanwhile, the third surety state did not impose a solution and said it would stick to what the parties agreed to. Consequently, the misconception that âeveryone wants a federationâ regarding the solution of the Cyprus issue is in no way compatible with the realities.
In summary, it does not seem realistic to hope for a solution of the Cyprus issue in the near future since the parties maintain diametrically opposed attitudes.