Friday, December 23, 2011

Cyprus: seeking the wrong solution?

Thu, Dec 22, 2011 by Alfred A Farrugia in Washington  FAMAGUSTA GAZETTE
A Cyprus settlement for the reunification of Cyprus, its people, its economy and society, … has eluded us for over 37-years.” These are the words of the Hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus, Dr. Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis expressed in the course of her informative presentation at the Director’s Forum of the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC, on December 20.

The Minister then went on to elaborate on a framework for such a settlement by referring to agreed United Nations language concerning “a state of Cyprus with a single sovereignty and international personality and a single citizenship, with its independent and territorial integrity safeguarded, … in a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation …”.

Has it not occurred to the political leaders of the two communities in Cyprus that the possible reason for lack of progress on the resolution of the Cyprus challenge might be this internally inconsistent and contradictory framework?

It did not take long for the first and possibly the most genuine United Nations mediator Galo Plaza in March 1965 to realize that a federation was not the right solution for Cyprus. In February 1977, Cypriot President Archbishop Makarios may have had his reasons to make a major concession for a bi-communal Federal Republic in the face of perceived threats from Turkey, possibly thinking that it was better to keep control of two thirds of the island than nothing at all.

With Cyprus as a member of the European Union since 2004, there is no more reason for a federation in Cyprus, or a subtle – or not so subtle – form of partition or taksim. In the past, given the Greek Cypriot ambition for enosis or union with Greece, it made sense for the Turkish Cypriots to consider partition or taksim, or as Dean Acheson had labeled it - “double enosis”. But that aspiration has changed now.


Enosis is no longer on the agenda of the Greek Cypriots, so partition or a federation need no longer be the goal or right solution for Cyprus. It is of course convenient for the nternational community and the United Nations to endorse a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation in Cyprus because the UN does not know any better. The UN has failed miserably when it comes to peace-building. The UN has simply managed to freeze the conflict in Cyprus through its so-called success in peacekeeping by maintaining the two communities and their military forces separated.

Turkey has evidently read very well what Galo Plaza had stated in his report, particularly Section V, (b), paragraphs 149 to 157, on “The structure of the state” of Cyprus, and through its invasion and continued occupation sought to change the situation on the ground through the use of force to justify a federation. This is an artificial partition and imposition, which the Cypriots can do without.

How is it possible for the political leaders of both communities to have forgotten what Galo Plaza had stated, namely “I cannot help wondering whether the physical division of the minority from the majority should not be considered a desperate step in the wrong direction”? (para. 155)

Was Galo Plaza not almost prophetic when he stated that “In fact, the arguments for the geographical separation of the two communities under a federal system of government have not convinced me that it would not inevitably lead to partition and thus risk creating a new national frontier between Greece and Turkey, …”. How can the government of Cyprus not see that a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation is likely to lead to a new national frontier between Cyprus and Turkey passing through Nicosia?


The real solution of the Cyprus challenge lies in re-visiting Section V, (c) of the Galo Plaza report on “The protection of individual and minority rights” of the Turkish Cypriots by the government of Cyprus. The government of Cyprus may do well to re-write the Constitution not to produce a federal state, but to enshrine the individual and minority rights of the Turkish Cypriots. If the Turkish Cypriots isolated themselves in the past, the government of Cyprus needs to go out of its way to make them feel an integral part of a unified state, and not abandon its responsibility for their well-being through a federation.

The government of Cyprus needs to make use of all the intergovernmental institutions, including the UN, the European Union, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and their mechanisms, together with the support of a network of competent NGOs and academics to build peace at the grassroots level between the members of the two communities.

Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots are friendly and hospitable people, and they can live peacefully together if political leaders and the media help them to satisfy their basic human needs rather that brainwashing them with divisive reporting and negative self-fulfilling prophecies.

Turkish Cypriots do not need a separate “constituent state”. They need to live wherever they like within the island, and enjoy and share the same EU benefits and upgraded physical and social infrastructure enjoyed by the Greek Cypriots, who similarly have a right to live wherever they like within their own country. As EU citizens, Turkish Cypriots need to enjoy all the freedoms that come with EU membership. They have the right to move and reside in other EU member States, and should not be restricted to live in the northern part of the island?

The Foreign Minister of Cyprus has stated that the settlement negotiations have not made substantive progress on the most crucial issues of governance and executive powers, refugees, property, territory and citizenship. In a single unified state there are no territory and citizenship issues to be solved. More progress can be achieved on the internally displaced persons when the Turkish military forces are persuaded to withdraw, once the Turkish Cypriots feel secure enough. For an interim period an OSCE Verification Mission, which could include a few Turkish troops, may supplement UNFICYP to put the mind of the Turkish Cypriots at rest concerning their security.

The 50 United States of America are not composed of 50 ethnic communities living separately. The small island of Cyprus is not India. Cyprus needs to strive for unification and forget about a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation. The people of the two communities, especially the younger generation, need to make a bottom-up request to their political leaders to draw a Constitution by Cypriots for Cypriots where each and every one has an equal voice through his representatives at the highest levels. Cyprus as an EU and OSCE Participating State does not need dividing lines and zones.

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