Cyprus problem: in the throes of regressions and fait accompli
Analysis by Stavri Kalopsidiotou, member of the C.C. of AKEL, the Cyprus problem Office of AKEL and International Law expert
Sunday, 15th November 2020, ‘HARAVGI’ newspaper
The secessionist act of the proclamation of the pseudo-state in the areas of Cyprus occupied by the Turkish army this year is extremely painful because in the leadership of the Turkish Cypriot community there is a politician who for the first time after the removal of Rauf Denktash is openly in favor of a two-state solution. This development alone is cause for reflection, it worries us and of course it makes the need for the Cyprus problem to take a path for its solution as soon as possible based on the agreed framework more imperative than ever.
If the more than three years of letting time go by passively since the Crans Montana talks to date have already left a negative mark on the procedure of resolving the Cyprus problem, one can easily suspect where our cause will be led to if a leader in favor of partition is allowed to act, together with Turkey, in the absence of negotiations. Even if the “solution” of two states does not in itself represent what is at stake in the days immediately after, the already negative developments in the fenced off area of Famagusta give us a taste (of what’s to come) and ring the alarm bell.
It has been said many times that for us to be led to a two states solution, the consent of the officially recognized state is essential, given that within the legal framework as defined by general international law, new states are created and recognized by the international community only under profoundly strict preconditions. The immediate condemnation of the secessionist act of 1983 by the international community as legally invalid, even calling for its revocation, has never been challenged by any state other than Turkey itself. Even more so, when it is universally recognised that the division of the island is the result of the illegal Turkish invasion in numerous Resolutions of the Security Council of the UN, which stress, among other things, the prohibition of the secession and creation of two states in Cyprus, also through Protocol 10 of the Treaty of Accession of the Republic of Cyprus to the EU where it is clearly stated that the whole of the island belongs to the territory of the Republic.
The above analysis regarding a two states “solution”, however, does not also automatically address the ramifications that its invocation and promotion piles up today on the part of Mr. Tatar. What certain forces and circles diligently pretend not to understand, either because they oppose the solution of federation or because they mistakenly adopt the theory of referring the solution of the Cyprus problem to some unspecified time in the future, is that so long as the debate around a two-state “solution” continues almost unhindered, the idea of reunification fades. And what is happening in real life is the dangerous alteration of the status quo and gradual derailment of the Cyprus problem on the ground. What is undoubtedly unfolding before us as the only option for halting any such talk is nothing other than the expression of our practical commitment to the resumption of a direct dialogue, under the auspices of the UN and within the agreed framework.
The history of the Cyprus problem is full of erroneous handlings, regressions and fait accompli that were created in the absence of negotiations. The so-called “TRNC” was proclaimed in 1983 after the rejection of the De Cuellar indexes, although in essence they were constituted a very general and broad outline for negotiations. The official shift of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership from federation to confederation in 1997 also followed a series of regressions. After abandoning the Ghali Set of Ideas, Clerides agreed to focus the discussion only on Confidence-Building Measures that collapsed. While after the deadlock at Montreux in 1997, and in view of forthcoming presidential elections, the Clerides-DISY government, yet again redefined its stance, engaging in the well-known shameless demagogy with big talk about a “common defence dogma with Greece”, surrounding the supposed arrival of S-300 missiles and the “active volcano” theory on the Cyprus problem.
The intense efforts to impose the direct trade of the pseudo-state, which were made after the well-known result of the 2004 referenda, represent yet another recent example. At any rate, what the historical experience of the Cyprus problem demonstrates is the when, under what conditions the creation of new negative fait accompli is being attempted or/and becomes feasible. This is something that one can hardly say that a President of the Republic does not know.
This brings us to today and to conclusions about where we have been led to after the collapse at Crans Montana in July 2017, which was followed by a prolonged absence of any negotiations. An absence that unfortunately came after Turkey’s exoneration by the UN Secretary General with regards its stance on the issue of security and guarantees, while on the contrary responsibilities were assigned on the two leaders (Anastasiades/Akinci) – which was followed by the strange silence on the part of Mr. Anastasiades as Turkey was being relieved of responsibilities. Evidently exploiting this fact, Ankara proceeded to new provocative actions by violating the sovereignty and sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus in the EEZ and seeking to create new negative fait accompli in violation of the UN Law of the Sea. In the period that followed, Mr. Anastasiades’ difficulty in convincing that he was seeking in practice the resumption of a direct dialogue, a development that would probably have led to an informal at least moratorium on Turkey’s aggressive acts, played a decisive role.
On the contrary, Mr. Anastasiades has repeatedly avoided making a reference to the solution of bi-zonal, bi-communal federation at important times, such as from the last session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. He even chose to question the very existence of the Framework that had been submitted by the UN Secretary General himself, distracting citizens, opening a front with the Turkish Cypriot leader and undermining the Greek Cypriot side’s credibility internationally. He has systematically challenged previous (his own) convergences, he himself fostering the questioning of the prospect of a solution within the agreed framework. He questioned the convergence for effective participation of the two communities in the organs of power and decision-making, reopened the issue of the system of government and without putting forth any specific proposals raised the issue of competences of the central government, calling for their reduction while he himself was the one who had asked for their substantial increase.
Mr. Anastasiades’ insistence on these “new ideas” has not only led to the unnecessary adventure of the so-called “terms of reference” during which further precious time was lost, but allowed the international community to question our side’s intentions with the Secretary General of the UN sending out the message that a precondition for his involvement in new negotiations is that he should be convinced that they will be meaningful and have a perspective.
It is within this environment that Turkey’s embolden actions have reached a peak. It is in the absence of negotiations that Turkey has once again found an opportunity to escalate its provocative actions, to proceed with greater violations of the UN Law of the Sea against the Republic of Cyprus with timid and lukewarm reactions from the international community and to launch its illegal machinations in Famagusta. And it is Mr. Anastasiades’ erratic silence about the basis of the solution – at least from the podium of the UN General Assembly – and the persistent questioning of the political equality of the Turkish Cypriots that has allowed Turkey to bring the two-state solution back into the public debate.
Inevitably, the prolonged stalemate makes it easier for Turkey to undermine the prospect for a solution and impose new partitionist fait accompli which no Greek Cypriot leader’s shoulders can withstand: in the tragic legacy of insecurity which the full, de facto assimilation of the northern part of our country by Turkey will provoke, in the upgrading of the occupied territories (for the time being not to a state but from an illegal formation to an unrecognized entity) and the loss of approximately half of the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Republic of Cyprus, the illegal colonalisation of Famagusta, the final end of the refugees’ hope of return and the definitive separation of the two communities.
The responsibility which the Anastasiades-DISY government bears is to make a radical turn in their policy, even belatedly, to take initiatives to confront Turkey in the only arena that can safeguard the withdrawal of the Turkish army and the reunification of Cyprus, that is to say through negotiations. However to do that, they must first convince us of the readiness of our side to return to the negotiations, with practical actions and not with declarations.
Our hope remains that what has mediated since July 2017 – and it is indeed sufficiently serious and critical – will not be underestimated and that during the expected visit to the island of the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Cyprus Mrs. Lutte those who will be discussing the future of the Cyprus problem will put aside the communication games and “new ideas”. That they will agree to resume negotiations on the basis of the agreed basis of the solution and that they should make clear commitments to the Secretary General of the UN for a resumption of the negotiations from the point where they had remained at Crans Montana, without setting new terms and preconditions, with the convergences and the Six-Point Framework submitted by the UN Secretary General, with the aim of reaching a speedy conclusion on a strategic understanding that will bring the Cyprus problem within range of a solution, always hoping that Turkey will do the same.
Intervention of Georgos Koukoumas, member of the C.C. of AKEL and the International Relations Department, at the Hearing “Palestine: What’s Next?” organized by GUE/NGL2015-07-1
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