ONE HAS two options in confronting another person, who has conflicting interests: either (a) acquire the strength needed for imposing his/her views or (b) adjust his/her goals and objectives in a way that resolves the conflicting interests.
In measuring your strength to impose your views you are entitled to take into account the strength of your allies, provided they are willing to utilise their strength for your benefit. In the process of adjusting your goals and objectives, it is of particular importance to identify the elements that are particularly valuable to your opponent but their loss would not cause an unbearable cost to you.
In all cases, the formulation of the right strategy entails a rational analysis, an in-depth understanding of the issues involved and the correct marshalling of your goals and those of your opponent, in order of importance. It also entails an objective evaluation of the effectiveness of the means you have at your disposal for implementing your strategy.
Today, neighbouring Turkey is confronted with two fundamental problems: (a) The threat of a piece of its territory being seized by Kurds and (b) the almost complete lack of national energy resources, forcing the country to import almost 80 per cent of its energy needs and almost 100 per cent of its petroleum and natural gas needs.
The rapid growth of the Turkish economy in the past 15 years has resulted in Turkey becoming one of the 20 richest countries in the world. The economic achievements of Turkey constitute the most important lever that has helped the Turkish president attain the political dominance he and his party now command.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan has affixed his stamp on modern Turkish history by creating an odd radical but, at the time, conservative Islamic model that incorporates elements of nationalism, based on neo-ottoman foundations. Erdogan, in his struggle to overturn the ruling class of Turkey, which was based on the Kemalist doctrine of the absolute separation between religion and the state, conceived the Islamic re-positioning of Turkey, as an added tool (beyond economic prosperity) which would allow him to attain his objectives.
Today, in view of the forthcoming presidential and parliamentary elections, Erdogan is finding himself at a critical turn in his political career. Securing the continuation of his successful political career entails the revitalisation of the Turkish economy and this is what his hovering between the West and the East is aiming at. Turkey is a big power that can afford to play this game.
Within the above overall framework, one could summarise the possible objectives of Turkey over the next 2-3 years, would be to stabilise the Turkish economy, given that the attainment of this goal is a precondition for attaining the political targets set.
It would also need to establish a “special relationship” with the European Union, in which Turkey will enjoy a “preferential treatment”, to the exclusion of the political or the monetary union and the free movement of persons.
In solving the Kurdish issue Erdogan’s efforts will probably focus on the political weakening of the Kurds and on the armouring of Turkey along its neighbouring Kurdish territories.
Lastly, one of Turkey’s main objectives is claiming and securing an important role in the energy game of the Eastern Mediterranean and, in particular, securing the flow of natural gas to Europe through Turkey.
Cyprus is clearly in a position to help Turkey to establish a “special relationship” with the European Union and to secure an important role in the energy game of the Eastern Mediterranean. The consideration, which Cyprus would be entitled to claim, would be the severance of the political umbilical cord, which, today, connects Turkey, and, correspondingly, Greece, with the island.
In my opinion, the basic elements of a possible agreement for the re-unification of Cyprus would include immediate acceptance without pre-conditions, the Guterres Framework as suggested by the leader of the Turkish Cypriots.
It would also include direct involvement of the European Union in securing a climate of safety and peace, thus effectively protecting the political and the economic status of all Cypriots. This protective umbrella would cover a number of settlers, who already have strong bonds with Cyprus, withdrawal or dissolution of the armed forces currently stationed in Cyprus, with the exception of the Akrotiri Base and those forces that will become part of a multinational force operating within the framework of the EU.
In addition it would involve securing the political parity between Greek and Turkish Cypriots by adopting Greek, Turkish and English as the official languages of the federated state, as well as of the two constituent states.
More importantly, securing the desired political parity and the “inter-mixing” of the political forces of Cyprus and of the Cypriots themselves, by introducing an election system, which will support those forces that are genuinely committed to strive for the prosperity of a re-united Cyprus.
This framework would include acceptance of the rotating presidency, while aiming at the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot candidates belonging to the same or to a “twinned” party, in order to secure a minimum level of political stability and continuity for the benefit of the whole of Cyprus.
Concluding an agreement that would provide for the channelling of natural gas to Europe via Turkey, in return for Turkey assuming the obligation to furnish Cyprus with the water needed to satisfy its needs throughout its territory, would need to be included as would the signing of a treaty of friendship and peace between Cyprus, Turkey and Greece, which would facilitate commercial and economic cooperation and would provide for the non-interference in the internal affairs of each other.
Above all, it would involve abandoning the mentality that is founded on the understanding that a gain of one community is, by necessity, a loss for the other community. What is urgently required is a positive attitude and a sufficient quantity of good faith and willingness to give concessions, for the benefit of all Cypriots.
Christos Panayiotides is a regular columnist for the Cyprus Mail and Alithia