THE election process is over. Nicos Anastasiades is the elected president of Cyprus until the year 2023. If the national problem of Cyprus is not resolved by then, it will never be resolved or, more accurately, it will be resolved on a de facto basis by acknowledging the invasion and occupation of Cyprus as an irreversible fait accompli.
The UN Security Council, in its recent unanimous resolution on Cyprus left little room for doubt. “The status quo is unsustainable”.
The result of the presidential election is clear and unambiguous. The people of Cyprus understand that the next opportunity to resolve the Cyprus problem will be the last one. It is precisely for this reason that two thirds of the electorate said ‘yes’ to the reunification of Cyprus and ‘no to the blurred vision of the ‘new strategy’ of the rejectionists.
Undoubtedly, a compact position of the Greek Cypriot community on the Cyprus problem would be helpful in resolving the problem. However, it would be a tragic mistake to assume that an abstract, theoretical solution would be capable of being converted into reality, merely because all the members of the Greek Cypriot community unanimously support it.
Unfortunately, reality dictates differently. The only solution, which can be realistically attained, is the one that is not in conflict with the interests of the big powers having the first say in the geographic area in which Cyprus is located. It is the one supported by the European Union and the Secretary-General of the United Nations; the one that would be acceptable – with appropriate international pressure – to Turkey.
For the attainment of this goal, the Greek Cypriot side must adopt a simple position and one readily comprehensible to all those involved in the negotiation process but also by those who monitor the process.
This position could be summed up as follows: “Severing the umbilical cord that politically connects Cyprus with Greece and Turkey, given that this connection has been repeatedly used in the past and will continue to be used in the future for serving goals that are alien to the interests of the Cypriots, as a whole”. Blatant manifestations of this problem were the clashes between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, provoked in the 70’s, the military coup staged in July 1974, the Turkish invasion which followed, the colonisation of northern Cyprus by Turkish immigrants, the economic dependence of northern Cyprus on Turkey and, in general, the ongoing attempt to alter the socio-political infrastructure of Cyprus.
Clearly, the failure to sever this umbilical cord will lead to political conflicts between the two communities and to the perpetuation of the problem, particularly in the case of the partitioning of the island.
The severance of the cord is facilitated by the fact that Cyprus is a full member of the European Union and, in particular, of the economic and monetary union. The practical significance of this attribute is the fact that the formulation of the state operating rules is – to a continually expanding extent – in the hands of a wider political circle, which extends well beyond the shores of Cyprus.
As a consequence, the ability of any particular segment of local society to differentiate these rules in a manner that would favour their own narrowly defined interests has already been materially restricted and, no doubt, will continue to shrink.
If the entire population of Cyprus could, somehow, assimilate this fundamental truth, then it will automatically dawn on both Greek and Turkish Cypriots that some problems that on first examination may appear insurmountable, in reality constitute minor issues.
I believe that Disy and Akel would not have a problem in supporting the newly- elected president on this basis. The question, which remains open, is how to confront the rejectionists who have been defeated in the elections.
In my opinion, they must be invited to adopt and support the above-described approach, by accepting the bicommunal, bizonal federation as the only realistic basis for resolving the problem.
Obviously, the acceptance of this premise would not rule out the possibility of reverting to a unitary state in the future if both constituent-states were to agree to such a development.
Furthermore, under the threat of being completely marginalised, the rejectionists must agree and accept that it would not be reasonable on their part to expect that they will be involved in addressing day-to-day tactical management issues of the problem.
The initiative on such tactical issues must rest with the President of the Republic, assisted – to some extent – by Akel in its capacity as the principal opposition party.
The phenomenon of the past, where every Cypriot politician – regardless of his or her political gravity – felt that he or she was entitled to serve as a co-manager of the problem and had the right to dictate in every detail the tactical moves, which should be made, must come to an end. Otherwise, there is a visible risk of arriving – as we did in the past – to a minimum common denominator that would get us nowhere.
Yes, let all push together but in the same direction. If some are pushing forward and some are pushing backwards, the carriage will remain stationary.
Christos Panayiotides is a regular contributor to the Cyprus Mail and Alithia