By Thanasis Gavos – London
While the negotiation process over the reunification of Cyprus has stumbled, the discussion within the Greek Cypriot community about the framework of the solution is ongoing. Although the government has taken its decisions, sticking to the pursuit of a bizonal, bicommunal federation solution, objections are still being raised.
A recent event in London on the occasion of 100 years since the birth of Archbishop Makarios presented the opportunity for these objections to be voiced again. The main presenter of the anti-bizonality argument was Dr Van Coufoudakis, a widely respectable academic and researcher with extensive knowledge of the history and politics of Cyprus, now Rector Emeritus at the University of Nicosia.
Dr Coufoudakis was referring to the relation between Makarios and the superpowers and before concluding his speech he took the opportunity to comment “on a recent myth attributing the constitutional sophistry known as ‘bizonal-bicommunal federation’ to President Makarios.”
He stressed that initially, in the February 1975 Vienna talks, the government of Cyprus had proposed the formation of a “bicommunal multi-regional federation” on the island. Later on, in a high level meeting convened on 12 February 1977 by UN Secretary General General Waldheim, President Makarios and Turkish Cypriot leader Raouf Denktash reached a four point agreement. The first point spoke of the creation of an “independent, non-aligned, bicommunal federation”.
According to Professor Coufoudakis, “Makarios was troubled by the vagueness of the high level agreement once he realised how the US and Turkey interpreted its terms.” President Kyprianou attempted to clarify the first high level agreement.
“Since then, foreign interlocutors have brought Makarios’s successors to the point of discussing proposals for a loose confederation of two largely autonomous states on Cyprus,” commented Dr Coufoudakis. “Anglo-American diplomacy, relying on constructive ambiguity and continuous concessions by successive Cypriot governments, has succeeded to gain Security Council endorsement of an unprecedented, ambiguous and illegal constitutional construct known as the ‘bizonal bicommunal federation’,” he added.
Some members of the panel and the audience agreed with the conclusion of the speech that the bizonality model satisfies Turkey’s partition ambitions, a model that “died on the day of the 2004 referendum in Cyprus over the Annan Plan,” as Dr Coufoudakis asserted.
“Knowing President Makarios’s principles and fears about the partition of Cyprus, he would have never consented to the so-called bizonal bicommunal federation which has now become the foundation of the UN sponsored talks,” added the Greek American academic.
The other side has its own arguments, often eloquently presented; not least that much depend on the interpretation and implementation of any term regarding the Cyprus issue. But on the night at least, the notion of bizonality was defeated.