The recent collapse of the UN led efforts for a solution to the Cyprus problem has led me – a Cypriot by birth and feelings,- but Canadian in the way I think, to propose a radical approach.
I was particularly embarrassed by the way the Greece and Cyprus Republic officials reacted towards the UN mediator, accusing him of not representing the true facts.
I found those comments cheap and less than magnanimous towards a very hard-working UN official who tried for several years to bring the two sides together. My own conclusion was that the culprit of the failure in Switzerland is the Greek and Greek Cypriot side which realised that they could not sell a solution to the electorate in a referendum and opted out
I took a few long walks after this disappointment and concluded that:
The Greek side was the one who started the conflict first in 1955 with the demand for Enosis and the Greek junta intervention in 1974.
As for the second one, the 1974 coup against Makarios, I suspect that there is consensus among the Greek Cypriots that it was a criminal act by the then Athens regime which brought upon the island the Turkish intervention and partition.
The intervention was legal in my opinion, but it was brutal and unjust, in the sense that instead of restoring order and the legitimate government, it partitioned the island.
Following several UN resolutions, Cyprus Republic officials have always insisted that the problem had to be solved on the basis of those resolutions and the principle of one federal country with two states.
Yet, the repeated UN led efforts since 1977 to find a solution have not borne fruit. It is now forty years and counting. As time goes on, there is less and less good will for the inhabitants of the two sides to find common ground for the federal option.
And this diminishing interest for a solution is particularly strong on the Greek side – hence the difficulty of the political elite to accept an agreement and try to sell it to the electorate in a referendum.
The Greek side has always considered the possible partition of the island as an anathema. Yet, it has been now more than 43 years since the 1974 Turkish invasion that people live in such a situation and in fact over 54 years since the 1963 start of the atrocities between the two communities and the withdrawal of the Turkish Cypriots from their role in the Cyprus Republic. Unfortunately, partition has been the norm, and peaceful in fact, for about half a century now. Perhaps it is time to consider the unthinkable; that partition and a two-state option within the European Union, is viable and practical.
A ‘Northern Cyprus Republic’, within the EU would allow for the freedom of movement of all EU citizens, including the Greek Cypriots. With a just adjustment to the territory they keep – along the lines of what has been agreed during the endless negotiations of the last few decades – the northern EU state would be larger than Malta and not much smaller than several other EU member countries. The big advantage would be one less government and fewer bureaucrats – with no federal regime on top of the Cyprus Republic and the ‘Northern Cyprus Republic’.
Are the Greek Cypriots willing to consider such an option? if yes, the road could be much easier towards a settlement and perhaps a declaration of solution by the UN. If not, I suspect the Cyprus problem will go on for another 50 years. Fortunately, I will not be around that long.
Stelios Pneumaticos, Ottawa, Canada