The solution negotiated by the Greek side for the Cyprus issue gradually shifted to a two-state confederation and an institutional framework that would confirm Ankara’s sovereignty over the entire island and preserve the interests of the US and NATO in the region.
This new state structure will emerge with the dissolution of the Republic of Cyprus and will be structured on the basis of racial criteria.
This means that there will be an ethnic vote and citizens will not vote with single electoral lists but with lists based on their ethnic origins and religion.
They will also elect their representatives from a list of ethnic candidates and on the basis of ethnic quotas. Therefore, the democratic principle of one person, one vote from single electoral lists, as is happening all over the world does not apply. In practice, this means that Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots will elect their representatives separately, plus there will be political and numerical equality, even if Greek Cypriots account for 80% of the population and Turkish Cypriots for 18%. But this is something that does not exist anywhere else in any modern state, federation or single state. If, for example, this was the case in the US, African-Americans would have to vote separately from other citizens. Similarly for the Anglo-Saxons, and the Hispanics. If it were in Spain, there would be no uniform electoral lists, but the Basques would have voted separately, the Catalans separately and so on.
How, however, will such a unification process be applied in a country divided by occupation? Above all, there will be frontiers between the two states that will make up the confederal structure and preserve their ethnic population’s purity! For example, only 20% of refugees will have the right to return to their homes, precisely to preserve the ethnic purity of the Turkish Cypriot state.
No federation in the world is ever discussed on a territorial and, above all, property issue on the basis of race criteria. In Cyprus this issue arose because of the Turkish invasion and ethnic cleansing imposed by Turkey on the violent movement of the populations. But people who have been violently moved always retain rights to their property. This is recognized by international law and confirmed by court rulings. The territories in question are always in accordance with international and European law in the Republic of Cyprus.
In federations, the borders between the provinces or states of a federal state are completely informal and are adapted to administrative and geographic needs rather than to racial criteria. These are, for example, the typical borders between two Cypriot provinces or two Cypriot villages or between two regions in Greece. Cyprus is being discussed in a way that leads to the creation of ethnic-racist (racial) borders between the two constituent states. In essence, what will result from such a solution will be similar to the national borders of two independent states. That is why we are talking about the territory that every constituent state will have and, as such, a territorial problem is being discussed.
In no federation is there an ethnographic rape of land occupation nor is it being discussed. In no federation is there an ethnic-quota possession of property or any discussion of it. The citizens of these states are free to get as much property as they want in any part of the federal state. For example, in Canada, a French-speaking resident in the province of Quebec can get as much property as he wants in the English-speaking provinces of Canada. And respectively the English-speaking resident of another province can get as much wealth as he wants in the French-speaking province of Quebec. There is no restriction based on race criteria.
In no federation in the world are there national boundaries between its constituent parts. For example, there is no such thing in the Canadian provinces, nor between the US states nor among the German federal states. In other words, the federal territory is unified. If this adds to the fact that the two constituent states will also have their own “internal” citizenship, it will in fact be a confederal form. Because nowhere in the world do the constituent parts of the federal states have their own citizenship. Nowhere is this issue discussed. Why is it discussed in Cyprus? Simply because at the negotiating table the debate is not about a federation which exists in the rest of the world, but about a confederal structure with full dependence on Ankara.
In all federations–we are talking about serious states–there is territorial unity. The central government exercises control over and manages vital parts of this territory, such as airports, ports, railway stations and major sea or river bridges. In Cyprus, we are negotiating the borders of the two future constituent states as if they were independent states where each one would have complete control over its territory!
Many politicians and technocrats will tell you that, since the future solution will collapse anyway, we ought to get at least as much territory as we can! And some people remind you that this was told 42 years ago, to Cypriots leaders by Konstantinos Karamanlis, the “ethnarch”! But this is not a serious policy. Neither are the representatives of the Turkish side of such a low intellectual level to negotiate returns of land without consideration. Furthermore, territory can be easily be reoccupied by Ankara, at any given time. As for property, on the basis of what has been agreed, it is essentially settled in favor of the settlers since they will have more rights as users than the owners.
This situation results from the acceptance of the bizonal federation as a basis for the solution of the Cyprus problem. In historical references to the beginning of the concept of bizonality, many refer either to the Zurich-London agreements, which of course introduced political bicommunism, but not bizonality, nor the federal state. The state that emerged from the Zurich-London agreements was certainly malfunctioning with multiple disadvantages, mainly with tribal electoral charts and tribal leadership, but it remained unified. Others, attribute the bizonality concept to the Makarios and Kyprianou agreements with Denktash. But even in these agreements – in essence, they consisted of negotiating/settlement guidelines, and not agreements, as they are so called – the term “bizonal federation” does not exist. Even the most fervent enthusiasts of the bizonal solution admit that this term entered the public debate and was accepted in the 1980s, with the persistence mainly of the British who promoted the relative Turkish position in the era of President George Vasileiou. Of course, this was a perennial requirement of Ankara.
There is a difference between the terms “bi-communal” or “bi-regional” and “bizonal” federation, both conceptually and politically-constitutionally. By the term “bi-zonal”, an area is encircled with national borders and the notion of a separate state emerges. In addition, the term bizonal introduces elements of sovereignty that do not exist in the region term. This term also introduces confederal elements that do not exist in the concept of bi-communality. This also explains the persistence of some in considering the bi-communal elements in the 1960 constitution as supposedly federal references. There is therefore no legitimacy for bizonality in the settlement guidelines agreed between Makarios / Denktas on 12/2/1977, nor in the 1960 constitution. There was even a clear and precise legal opinion of the Attorney General of the Republic of Cyprus, Michalakis Triantafyllidis on this matter. Besides, in the Makariou-Denktash guidelines there is no explicit reference to the creation of two regions, but to territories under the administration of the two communities. Until 1989, no reference was made to the term “bi-zonal” in the United Nations Security Council resolutions on Cyprus. For the first time, the term “bi-zonal” appears on 12 March 1990, in Security Council Resolution 649, at the time of George Vassiliou’s presidency.
But in reality the bi-communal roots and, by extension, the policy of separation that led to the adoption of the bizonal federation appear / can be traced back in the first “constitution” that the British gave to the colony in 1882. In this constitution, the British distort and deform the concept of liberal democracy and adopt the concept of the “millet” of the Ottoman period. Based on this notion, ethnic communities are recognized as a political subject as a matter of priority, while citizens are placed in a second category. Thus, by implementing the “divide and reign” policy for the election of the members of the notorious Legislative Council that they later introduced, the British imposed the authority of two separate electoral bodies, one of the Greeks and one of the Turks, where as national religious communities they elected their delegates from separate electoral lists and ethnic quotas. This was exactly what served the well-known British policy of “divide and reign”.
But in no democratic country of the world, was this principle applied. If, for example, it was implemented in Britain itself, there would have to be separate electoral bodies, separate electoral charts and national religious quotas for Protestants, Catholics, Irish, Scots, etc. And today we will add Muslims, of course. If it were implemented in the US, there should be separate electoral bodies for whites, African-Americans, Hispanics, Muslims, etc. This reduction can be done in all countries where liberal democracy is applied and uniform electoral lists are in place, as well as the election of representatives of the people, regardless of racial origin, religion or color.
In Cyprus, since the introduction of this policy of dichotomy in 1882, we went to the Zurich-London agreements in 1959, with the same logic, and from there to the bizonal federation that we are discussing today and which will be nothing more than a form of apartheid. What Nelson Mandela (whom some people in Cyprus are saying that they follow) has rejected in South Africa. If such a system is ever implemented in Cyprus, Cypriots will simply be converted into guinea pigs of a New Order political lab where the structure is built on racial criteria.
The Bi-Zonal Cypriot Cutting Federation is a state-of-the-art construction without a future that will cause far more problems than it will solve. It does not serve the interests of either the Greeks or the Turks of Cyprus. But it serves very well the interests of Turkey and those of the Anglo-Americans and NATO. Besides, if this state-building shows something positive, Turkey does not apply it to the Kurds, Spain does not apply it to the Basques and the Catalans, France does not apply it to the six million Muslims, Canada does not apply it to French-speaking people, Britain itself does not apply it to its multiple minorities. Nowhere in the world is this discussed. But it is being discussed in Cyprus, as if Cypriots were citizens with special needs. The existence of multiple ethnic minorities has not of course prevented Barak Obama, without a bizonal tribal system, from becoming president of the United States, nor the French-speaking minority in Canada being the head of the country for decades, nor Jewish citizens becoming prime ministers in Britain and France. Why, then, in Cyprus would the Turkish Cypriots be excluded from the presidency of the Republic, from executive or legislative power, in a unified society, with common parties based on programmatic and ideological references rather than racial constructions?
In conclusion, a bi-zoning construct in Cyprus legitimizes the effects of the Turkish invasion, serves Turkey’s long-term geopolitical interests in the Eastern Mediterranean because it allows control of the whole of Cyprus through the controlled Turkish minority that becomes equal with the Greek majority on the basis of political equality, neutralizes Greece from a historical area with centuries of presence and maintains intact the Anglo-American sovereignty and that of NATO in the region. We must not forget that no one insults/offends the status of the British bases in Cyprus as a sovereign British territory!
* Stephanos Constantinides is Professor of Political Science in Quebec, Canada (he taught at Laval University, the University of MontreaL and the University of Quebec at Montreal) and a scientific associate of the University of Crete.