Dear Mr. President,
LATELY, the voices, including those of old friends and supporters of yours, which claim you have abandoned the goal of reunifying Cyprus and that you have refocused your attention on the establishment of two independent states are multiplying to the point of concern.
In my efforts to argue that these rumours are totally unfounded, the advocates of these views present a string of counter-arguments in support of their conclusion, the most important of which include the refusal of the international community and, in particular, that of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to accept your position that the collapse of the negotiations has been exclusively caused by Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots.
In fact, those who privately assign the blame for the collapse of the process on you personally and on the rejectionist school of the foreign ministry, whose role has been recently upgraded in the new cabinet, are not confined to a handful of people.
The absolute position taken in Switzerland of “zero troops, zero guarantees” and the insistence of our side for Turkey to commit herself in writing in this respect is the incident that has led the negotiations to deadlock. Indeed, the deadlock was reached when the Secretary-General conveyed the impression that Turkey, for the first time, was ready to withdraw its troops from Cyprus and to waive all its guarantor rights.
The decision of the government to press on with exploratory works in the “disputed” Block 3 of Cyprus’ EEZ is another factor. The previous foreign minister made a public statement in the course of a television interview that a few months ago the United States had alerted Cyprus to the likelihood of complications arising in the event that such an attempt would be made. As a consequence of the tactics followed, the issue of hydrocarbons has been elevated by the government into an integral part of the Cyprus problem.
The recent public statements of the Greek Cypriot negotiator, Andreas Mavroyiannis, has felt the need to take a position, in a clear and unambiguous manner, against the creation of two independent states by describing such a development as “devastating for Cyprus”. His statements, made in the context of a pre-recorded television interview, left no room for doubt as to what he intended to say, a feature that is rare in the statements made by a professional diplomat.
Also, we have the public statements made by large business interests, who have supported your candidacy in the recent presidential elections. These business interests have taken a clear stand against the reunification of Cyprus.
Then we need to look at the close cooperation ties between Cyprus and Russia, given the interest the latter has to oppose the reunification of Cyprus on the basis that such a development is likely to result in small Cyprus being tied to the chariot of the West and would deprive Russia of any role on the island. In fact, certain enemies of yours go as far as to argue that the apparent shift of your position on the Cyprus problem was the result of pressure exerted from this direction.
The apparent pro-Russia behaviour of an assistant attorney-general and the visible involvement of the Russian ambassador in the political affairs of Cyprus and the prominent presence of Mr Savvides at the ceremony where you assumed the presidency for the second time are events that are set within this framework of analysis.
Your insistence to set preconditions for the resumption of the talks, which you know will not, under any circumstances, be accepted by the other side, is enabling the Turkish Cypriot leader to argue that not only you are not pursuing this goal but, in fact, you are undermining its attainment.
Based on the tactics currently employed, the prospects for reunification are particularly poor.
This conclusion was solemnly confirmed at the recent top-level meeting in Varna, between the European Union and Turkey, where the Cyprus issue passed almost unnoticed by the international media, despite the clear message of support from the EU.
The counter-argument is that these positions are promoted by people who envy your political success. The undeniable truth, however, is that the available time for resolving the Cyprus problem is being exhausted.
Because the people of Cyprus, who recently re-elected you on a mandate to strive, in an effective manner, for reunification, are deeply concerned and worried about the visible prospect that the partition on the ground in 1974 is becoming irreversible. I beg you to demonstrate that the above-described positions are totally unfounded and to do this not through words but by concrete actions and deeds. I share the opinion of the majority of political analysts that the protagonistic presence of Mr. Erdogan in Turkey will extend over at least another decade. I, therefore, believe that you need to press forthwith not on resuming the “talks” where you left them but for the resolution of the Cyprus problem on the basis of which there should be a unilateral statement on the part of Greece that it relinquishes all her rights over Cyprus, in anticipation that Turkey will reciprocate, and that it respects, in absolute terms, the independence of Cyprus and is proceeding with the severance of the political umbilical cord connecting the two countries. It should also call on Turkey to do the same. Greece should also apologise to the people of Cyprus for the military coup that was staged in July 1974 irrespective of the fact that this action was taken by a military junta over which the Greek people had no control, and for all the hardship this action has caused.
The Greek Cypriot side should accept the rotating presidency on the sole condition that the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot candidates would belong to the same or to affiliated political parties, and the election would be on the basis of weighted cross-voting using a common ballot-paper. This is necessary for ensuring that the state is not rendered an ungovernable boat that will be steered one day in one direction and the following day in the opposite direction.
There should be immediate and unconditional acceptance of the UN’s framework for negotiating and reaching an agreement, without preconditions, on resuming the talks, with a view of reaching and approving a final agreement between the two communities by the end of the year.
Within the framework of the solution of the Cyprus problem, there should be the concluding of a friendship and cooperation treaty between Cyprus and Turkey, which would include a commitment on the part of the Republic to accept the sale of Cypriot hydrocarbons to Europe through a pipeline that will pass through Turkey, provided that such an arrangement will be judged as financially proficient by the technical companies involved in the process.
Irrespective of whether you will adopt these proposals or not, I believe that you have an obligation to clarify with sincerity and courage your positions on these issues and that you should do so in a practical and convincing manner, so as to liberate the people of Cyprus from the anguish that has overtaken them.
Christos Panayiotides is a regular columnist for the Cyprus Mail and in Alithia