By Ergun Olgun
THE objective assessment of the root cause of a problem is key to the identification of the precise remedy for its solution. Wrong diagnosis will lead to the application of wrong “remedies” which will only exacerbate the problem.
Greek Cypriot and Greek authorities choose to present the root cause of the Cyprus problem as the “occupation” of one-third of the territory of the “Republic of Cyprus” by Turkey and, by implication, have been pushing for the removal of this “occupation” as the single remedy.
In a statement on May 29, 2017 following his meeting with Mr Espen Barth Eide, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Cyprus, the Greek Foreign Minister Mr Nicos Kotzias said:“…I would like to remind you that the essence of the Cyprus problem is also the external aspect of the problem. It is the occupation of Cypriot territory by a third country. As a result, its solution is how, through diplomatic means, we will be able to restore the unified nature of the island…”
In its resolution of March 4, 1964 (186) the UN Security Council had noted, in its preambular paragraphs, that“… the present situation with regard to Cyprus is likely to threaten international peace and security and may further deteriorate unless additional measures are promptly taken to maintain peace and to seek out a durable solution…”.
Based on this assessment, the UN Security Council created UNFICYP, which is still on the island, with a mandate to “… use its best efforts to prevent a recurrence of fighting and, as necessary, to contribute to the maintenance and restoration of law and order and a return to normal conditions”(paragraph 5).The Security Council had even recommended the designation of a mediator “…who shall use his best endeavours with the representatives of the communities …for the purpose of promoting a peaceful solution and an agreed settlement of the problem confronting Cyprus”(paragraph 7).
Having failed with the UN comprehensive settlement plan of 2004 we are still trying to reach a peaceful solution based on the 1977/1979 High Level Agreements and the Joint Declaration of 11 February 2014.
I do not think we can achieve a sustainable settlement unless we genuinely acknowledge not only the symptoms but more so the root causes of the Cyprus issue; recognise the suffering that was caused to the Turkish Cypriot community between December 1963 – July 1974 and the suffering that both communities had to endure as a result of the Greek government inspired coup and its aftermath; and respect the agreed parameters for a Cyprus settlement, not only in words but also in deeds. It is only then that we can address the deep crises of confidence between the two communities and see genuine grassroots cooperation.
One additional very damaging (and unfortunate) fallacy of the Greek Foreign Minister Mr Kotzias can be found in his interview on Alpha Radio on June 11, 2017 in which he says “…the Kurds should have the rights that the Republic of Cyprus intends to grant to the Turkish Cypriot community”.
The Greek foreign minister needs to be reminded that Turkey is a unitary state which cannot be compared with the “Republic of Cyprus” which won independence from the UK as a partnership state or a functional federation, which was based on the political equality of its two inherently constitutive communities where executive authority was shared by a Greek Cypriot President and a Turkish Cypriot Vice-President who both had equal veto powers.
The exercise that is currently continuing and the Cyprus Conference that is scheduled to convene in Geneva on June 28, 2017 is not therefore about the “Republic of Cyprus” generously granting rights to the Turkish Cypriot community but about the Turkish Cypriot community exercising its established and internationally sanctioned rights as a political equal in a new bi-zonal federal partnership with their politically equal former partner.
Ergün Olgun, former Turkish Cypriot negotiator