This means that the Turkish Cypriots have become a minority within a minority. It is in the interest of Turkey not of the Turkish Cypriots that as many Turkish settlers as possible move from Turkey to the north of Cyprus to justify the occupation of 37 per cent of the island.
46 years ago, the United Nations Mediator Galo Plaza declared that a federation was not in the interest of Cyprus. It is now becoming clear that a federation is not in the interest neither of the Greek Cypriots nor of the Turkish Cypriots. The Turkish Cypriots have come to the stage where they cannot be protected from their protector. They are now outnumbered and out-voted in the north, assuming they ever had any power of their own before.
The Turkish Cypriots and their representatives have a higher possibility of having their voices heard and respected in a unified national Cypriot government than within a federation where they will be the minority in their own constituent state. Recent changes and restrictions in the regulations on the university entry of Turkish Cypriot students who studied in the south of the island are a clear example.
For Turkish Cypriots, it is not enough to have political equality at the community level. What Turkish Cypriots really need is political equality at the individual level. There should be no distinction in the rights enjoyed by a Greek Cypriot and the rights enjoyed by a Turkish Cypriot in a unified country. In the other EU Mediterranean island country Malta, there is a sister island to the north called Gozo. Gozo is one of 13 electoral districts and it is represented by 5 Members of Parliament, including a Cabinet Minister, in a House of Representatives composed of 65 members.
Given the very narrow margins between the major political parties in Cyprus, Turkish Cypriots and Turkish Cypriot political parties could have enough representatives on the government side and on the opposition side to safeguard their own basic needs in a national unified parliamentary system.
The Gozitans, like the Maltese, are free to live anywhere they like on the Maltese archipelago. The same should be the case in Cyprus. The European Union has not only suspended the application of the acquis from the north of Cyprus, it has also suspended some of its basic and fundamental principles such as freedom of movement and of residence, including EU Directive 2004/38/EC of 29 April 2004. It is sad that millions of European citizens can move freely within the Schengen area, but when they reach Nicosia they need to have a stamped piece of paper to move from the south to the north of the city!
Turkey did the right thing to protect the Turkish Cypriots in the early 1960s and in the mid-1970s, although in the latter case the problem was between the Greek Cypriots themselves rather than between the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots. Since Cyprus is now an EU Member, the Turkish military forces are not needed any more. As a candidate country, Turkey needs to withdraw its military forces from Cyprus.
Enosis is no longer a political objective of the Greek Cypriots. If anything, the Turkish Cypriots are suffering from a strange double enosis! While the Greek Cypriots are integrated with the European Union and obtaining all the benefits, the Turkish Cypriots have become a minority within a community of Turkish settlers. If the ad hoc partition had not taken place, Turkish Cypriots would now be
enjoying the full benefits of EU membership!
A bi-communal bi-zonal federation made sense as a concession in the late 1970s given the circumstances. But experience has shown that it is not possible to make real progress on such a solution for the simple reason that a federation will simply legalize a separation obtained through the use of force. Turkish Cypriots are suffering the consequences of the green line. Such a dividing line is only serving Turkeys ego.
Former Turkish foreign ministers may have their own ideas about a solution, but they would only reflect Turkeys own interests. Bi-communal conferences and initiatives are useful, but the Turkish Cypriots need to be smarter and put pressure on their political leaders for a paradigm shift. Turkish Cypriots need to seek a European solution through the right of participation in a unified national Cypriot government.
If the 259 million euro allocated by the EU had been channeled to the 89,000 Turkish Cypriots, they would have become a lot richer. Instead, several third parties are likely to have derived a good proportion of those benefits.
Turkish Cypriots do not need derogations from the EU as the UN Annan Plan sought to procure. On the contrary, Turkish Cypriots need to be part of one Cypriot government and community to enjoy all the benefits of EU membership, including freedom of movement, democracy and the rule of law.
Turkish Cypriots need to have their human rights and their basic human needs satisfied without discrimination on the basis of ethnicity or religion. Turkish Cypriots need to participate in national Cypriot elections with the right to elect or be elected without interference from foreign troops and foreign guests.
Turkish Cypriots do not need to go out in the streets as other communities are doing in the Arab countries and the Middle East. They simply need to tell their political leaders that the UN efforts have not worked because they were misplaced. The time has come for them to benefit from a European solution as European citizens in partnership with the Greek Cypriots in a unified and civilized country.
Note: The author is a former diplomat from Malta who served at the Permanent Mission of Malta to the UN in New York, at the Delegation of Malta to the OSCE in Vienna, and at the Embassy of Malta in Washington, DC. He is a Ph.D. candidate at George Mason University, Virginia, USA, conducting research on peacebuilding in Cyprus.