This cannot be accepted, say officials of the Republic of Cyprus
By Michalis Michael
As we wrote yesterday, and is confirmed today, the Republic of Cyprus did not take lightly all that was said yesterday by the Foreign Minister Kudret Özersay, regarding a possible opening of Famagusta. At the same time, there is no talk in the occupied areas for “annexation”, as the Turkish media reported yesterday. This is not what the Turkish Cypriots want, the political sources also say.
Foreign Minister of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Christodoulides, has clearly expressed him opinion on the issue, speaking of a “move to cause sentation”. At the same time, in the political scene of Nicosia, it is being intensively debated that Cyprus cannot enter into a discussion on the Cyprus issue while the maritime invasion of the country’s EEZ is in progress.
However, Ozersay, who for reasons of his own internal political agenda in the occupied area promotes his own positions, stresses that there are other ideas for the Cyprus issue and they need to be discussed. This creates, on behalf of the Turkish side, a chain of debates that share the same core. The achievement of benefits by putting two and three issues together on the table. This is a constant practice from Turkey and is analysed below.
The disentanglement of the situation
As we had stated yesterday, based on the studies that the Greek Cypriot side has at its disposal, a possible opening of Famagusta will take about five to six years and billions of euros. One should take into account that the entire infrastructure of the city has been inactive for almost 50 years and therefore all that is needed in terms of work in order to make Famagusta habitable again. This does not prevent the Turkish Cypriot side from proceeding from time to time to similar positions, whilst constantly adopting the rhetoric of “studies”. While these studies already exist, they have been made by the Republic of Cyprus and therefore the Turkish Cypriots do not accept them. This rhetoric is based on the position that Famagusta can open. But under the UN. There are also the related resolutions of the Body regarding this issue (UN resolutions 550 and 789 as well as the 1979 Kyprianou-Denktas Agreement).
This tactic on the part of the Turkish Cypriot side, and the appeal to the emotions of the inhabitants of Famagusta, had an effect in the past when the pressure on the Greek Cypriot side increased, while there were also threats of a return of residents even under Turkish Cypriot administration, a position with which on the one hand the Greek Cypriot side cannot agree with, but at the same time they cannot refuse to any refugee to return to Famagusta.
However, and the Turkish Cypriot side is aware of this, this opens another issue that touches the core of the Cyprus issue, and this issue is nothing more than that of property. The property issue is one of the main internal issues of the Cyprus problem. The violation of the property rights of the residents of Famagusta was confirmed by the European Court of Human Rights, among others, in the decision for the case of Myra Xenidi-Aresti in 2006 concerning property located within the fenced area. Thus the “respect” of the property of the Greek Cypriots is anything but a simple case, as the Turkish Cypriot side declares in almost every case that the issue is raised. Moreover, the property issue, as well as other internal issues of the Cyprus problem, cannot be discussed in singularity and by derogation.
Recently, after the unacceptable but confessed in the background failure to draft terms of reference in the Cyprus issue (an agreed context, with which they could-ideally-start negotiations), the situation has created a stalemate in Cyprus. This impasse has not yet been recognized by the UN. On the other hand, however, it exists, as no one knows when and if it will stop, something that Turkey is worsening with its invasion in the EEZ, since it substantively does this in order force itself back into the energy game from which it was excluded, that of the Eastern Mediterranean.
There is now no chance for Nicosia to return to any discussion on the Cyprus issue, especially as President Anastasiades has left negotiations in the past because the “Barbaros” had entered the EEZ. All the more so now, with the drilling and with another Turkish ship coming for drilling off Karpasia, according to the information. The Republic of Cyprus, ever since the collapse of the talks at Crans-Montana, proceeded with its energy planning, irrespective of the developments in the Cyprus problem, while strengthening its alliances through the tripartite and the quadripartite alliances with Greece, Israel and the United States. This was and remains the country’s first line of defence, as there is no word of military or other type of confrontation.
The quagmire, however, in the Cyprus issue, hides risks that are beginning to emerge. As Mr Ozersay said, “there are new ideas regarding the Cyprus issue and they must be discussed.” What does this reveal? That he, as an advocate for the solution of two states in Cyprus, showing off as “Foreign Minister” his leadership skills and working against the “President” Akinci, succeeds in:
– Making an agenda with the issues he wants: Famagusta- new ideas for a solution
– Proposing that the solution of the Bi-zonal Bi-communal Federation has ended
– Setting up a profile for the next “presidential” elections in the occupied areas in 2020
– Causing an upheaval both in the Greek Cypriot side and in the occupied areas.
It is indicative that on Wednesday the spokesman of Akinci, Mr. Burghiu, invited him to publicly state the vision he “shared” with President Anastasiades at their social dinner. It is also reminded that, according to Greek Cypriot sources, Ozersay himself was behind the incitement of riots in the region of Deneia, where Turkish Cypriot farmers essentially stole the crop of Greek Cypriot farmers and the Turkish army moved, eve just a few meters, of its position. So estimations about what is happening lately, go through this prism.
The situation for Cyprus is not easy, but it has never been. With Erdogan calling elections in Istanbul, and with him taking them personally, the relieve of pressure in the foreign politics, let’s say so, was nearly expected in Nicosia. For its part, Nicosia has tabled the coordinates for its EEZ to the UN, and the Turkish drill now works within them. Thus from today, until Sunday, there is a key period for how the situation will progress in both the EEZ and Cyprus.
The Cypriot government’s goal is not to be swept away by either Turkey’s actions or by Ozersay’s talks. What the EU will in the end do, with the migration issue being the “sword of Damocles”, and the inhabitants of Famagusta, if in the long run the reopening becomes reality, remains to be seen./ibna