Cyprus two-state solution proposal raises tensions far from the island

Cyprus two-state solution proposal raises tensions far from the island

London, December 19, 2014/ Independent Balkan News Agency

By Thanasis Gavos

A flurry of recent statements and reports have reintroduced to the public discussion over the prospects of the Cyprus problem the idea of a two-state solution – a permanent partition on the island whose northern part continues to be under occupation by the Turkish army ever since the 1974 invasion.

Whether reports by think-tanks like the International Crisis Group, comments by British former heavyweight politicians such as Jack Straw, statements by Turkish or Turkish Cypriot leaders, essays by academics as in the case of a new book on the Cyprus issue or articles by influential media outlets like the Economist, the two-state solution has been floated in the debate as if it would simply be another way of dealing with a stubborn problem.

Cypriot diplomats and politicians were not caught unawares. Whether the unacceptable proposal was simply a lazy conclusion of commentators frustrated and bored with yet another impasse over Cyprus or part of a concerted effort to undermine the UN-led negotiations, supporters of a united Cyprus were quick to point out that such an outcome would constitute at least a violation of the will of the island’s people.

When the Economist published an article asking whether the Cyprus problem was “intractable or insoluble”, concluding that if the latest talks fail the time for partition may yet come, the Cypriot diplomatic mission to the UK felt the need to respond.

Its head, the Cypriot High Commissioner Euripides Evriviades, sent a letter to the editor that got published in the magazine’s latest issue. To the comment “intractable or insoluble” the High Commissioner replied: “It is neither, unless one is willing to accept that a stronger state can forcefully dismember one of its neighbours; none of the UN resolutions and European Court of Human Rights rulings matter; international rules and regulations do not apply to occupations; civil and human rights are not universal; the Ankara narrative that the Republic of Cyprus does not exist is true; and that Cyprus is Turkey’s vassal state.”

Mr Evriviades went further, attacking the Economist and describing partition as “the favourite fetish of colonial bureaucrats”, an idea “morally and politically bankrupt”.

At the very same ‘Letters to the editor’ page, Britain’s former special representative for Cyprus Lord David Hannay commented that the problem with the alternatives to a bizonal, bicommunal federation (on which the negotiations are supposed to be concentrating) is that they require deals on precisely the same issues hampering a successful conclusion to the UN-led settlement process, namely the territorial, property and security issues. “Why should the parties reach painful compromises for a lesser reward?” wondered Lord Hannay.

He also pointed out that Ergun Olgun, the Turkish Cypriot chief negotiator who recently spoke from London about the need to “think outside the box”, has been raising the same “highly theoretical objections to federation” since he worked for the late Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash at the end of the last century.

A response by a Turkish Cypriot representative of the pseudostate in London to the responses published by the Economist, as is usually the ritual, would be extremely interesting and possibly revealing of the Turkish Cypriot leadership’s intentions.