OP/ED: Nikos Kotzias: The Cyprus Issue today

OP/ED: Nikos Kotzias: The Cyprus Issue today
  1. Aspirations for the transformation of the Cyprus issue

For the last thirty years, the Turkish side together with its friends in the International Community have sought, and to some extent succeeded, in devaluing the importance of the international aspect of the Cyprus issue, which refers to the invasion and illegal occupation of a large part of the Megalonisos Petalion. The aim was to present the Cyprus issue as a one-dimensional internal affair which concerns exclusively the relations and the rights of the two communities. With this rollover Turkey sought to appear not as the violator of international law that it is, but rather as the protector of a portion of the Cypriots. It prioritized the safeguarding of total equality between the Turkish-Cypriot community (officially 18% of the population at the time) and the Greek-Cypriot. Such total equality is the definition of non-democracy. After all, no one is stopping it from applying it to Turkey’s 18 million Kurds, who make up 22% of its population.

I was and still am in favor of all the real rights of the Turkish-Cypriots. What should have been done was to form a common front with the Turkish-Cypriots living after 1974 with a military boot pressing against their neck. It is a fact that democracy cannot really function in a society of 200,000 people with the presence and control of 42,000 soldiers. This nature of the military regime in occupied Cyprus was never sufficiently revealed.

In recent years, after the developments in the maritime zones and the detection of natural gas in the Cypriot areas, Turkey, with the help of third country diplomats, sought to change the character of the Cyprus issue even more: to transform into a problem of distribution of revenues from the maritime resources of the Republic of Cyprus; by presenting itself as a co-beneficiary who quickly defends the correct distribution of resources.

Fortunately, at Crans Montana we put things on the right footing in terms of the international aspect of the Cyprus issue. The UN Secretary-General adopted our core positions based on the principles of international law and the UN Charter; first and foremost, the fundamental position that Cyprus must become a normal state. It is unfathomable for an EU or UN Member State to be under third party guarantees. Nor should there be present occupying troops or other foreign troops, without the consent of the Republic of Cyprus. Such a state cannot suffer the structures and “consequences” of colonial remnants. I also put forward and was accepted by the UN the need to protect and promote the rights, especially in terms of their institutional representation, of the three minorities living in the Megalonisos Petalion (Maronites, Latins, Armenians).

  1. Today’s Crans Montana

At Crans Montana, we changed for the first time the historical norm according to which “every subsequent negotiation” was worse than the previous one. For the first time, the results of this negotiation, as summarized by the UN Secretary General in his six points, were better than the previous negotiations. Many clueless people, who simply listen to what some pro-Turkish agents tell them and not what the Greek and Cypriot governments have to say, maliciously attempted to lay the blame for the impasse in Crans Montana on the Cypriot government, thus facilitating Turkish interests and tactics.

The truth, however, is that the Turkish delegation abandoned the scheduled two-day talks in Geneva in 2017 already on the first night, while announcing the next morning from Ankara that it had to “deal with more important issues, such as the Syrian conflict.” In Crans Montana, while Turkey had agreed to abolish the guarantee regime and withdraw the occupying army, as the UN Secretary General himself officially informed us, in the end Ankara persistently and “inelegantly” backed down, feeling the heat of the gray wolves.

For anyone who is skeptical, I recall that the truth always finds its way out. It is none other than the Turks and some British diplomats who state today that they do not want to continue negotiations on the Cyprus issue, starting with the results of Crans Montana. Just as they did not want to seal the deal with a fair compromise back then, now they want to evade the position on a “normal state” and the two abolitions. In addition, they are pressuring the Republic of Cyprus to make concessions to Turkey before consultations even begin, supposedly in order “for it to head to the negotiations in a good mood.” But if Turkey is to get everything it asks for in advance, it will certainly be in a good mood!

In this context of pressure, Greek diplomacy is exhibiting a unique passivity. It does not reveal Turkey’s aspirations to the international community. It does not respond to its provocative demands, in the same way it stays silent to many other issues concerning the Greek-Turkish relations.

  1. Confederation through the two states?

The question is what Ankara’s real pursuits are when it speaks of two states in the Megalonisos Petalion. Turkey, in my opinion, does not want that to happen at all. It is in no mood to have a “clean” Greek-Cypriot state in her womb. What it wants is to have under its control the part that it illegally owns and to pull the strings through it in the overall foreign and defense policy of the Republic of Cyprus, as well as its resources. And it can achieve this by promoting the “two states” as desirable, in order to then “reach” the so-called compromise of the confederation, which can also be baptized as “a special kind of Federation” just for show. In other words, it wants an institutional abortion that will prevent Cyprus from becoming a normal state, as agreed in Crans Montana.

I very much fear that those who blamed us for the positive results of the summer of 2017 by adopting Turkish arguments or refusing to admit the preparation and negotiation that we did and then led to a positive UN stance, are now ready to accept such a disgrace. Even worse, some in Athens hope to get rid of the “burden of the Cyprus issue” in the same way they thought they would get rid of the Cyprus issue when they urged back in the 1950s the United Kingdom to promote the dichotomization of Cyprus and enforced the criminal agreement of guarantees! /ibna


Source: Kathimerini