By Stefanos Evripidou
TURKISH public opinion is divided on what to do about Cyprus, with a quarter supporting “any solution” and an equal number wanting to see two separate states on the island, according to a recent poll.
The survey, conducted throughout Turkey in May on behalf of the Istanbul-based think tank, Centre for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies (EDAM), asked which of the potential outcomes of the ongoing negotiations was preferred the most, with 24 per cent saying the Cyprus issue has lasted too long and a solution should be reached “no matter what the conditions are”.
Another 26 per cent argued “there is no need to insist for a solution”, the best option is to have two separate states on the island.
Eighteen per cent support the formation of a new Cypriot state that will be a member of the EU, in which Greek and Turkish Cypriots will live together, while 19 per cent support the same notion except they want full EU sovereignty over the island postponed until Turkey becomes an EU member too.
EDAM notes that when the two options are aggregated, one could argue that an EU-linked solution remains the favoured outcome for 36 per cent of Turkish public opinion.
“This result should give some encouragement to the negotiators that are currently engaged in UN-sponsored negotiations” to reach a solution at a time when the internationally-recognised Republic of Cyprus is already an EU member state, said an EDEM press release.
The “two-state solution” is the clearly favoured outcome for the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) electorate in Turkey with a support of 31 per cent, though 27 per cent of MHP voters asked said they would agree to “any solution” regardless of the conditions.
The majority from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) also favour the approach of “any solution”, representing 27 per cent of all AKP voter respondents.
The top choice for ‘Kemalist’ voters of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) is the “two-state solution” with 26 per cent.
However, 22 per cent of CHP voters favoured the common state as an EU member solution without conditions and another 21 per cent presented Turkey’s full membership to the EU as a precondition. This combined total of 43 per cent in favour of an EU-linked common state solution is more than from any other political constituency.
The same question was posed to a panel of foreign policy experts compiled by EDEM. More than half (51 per cent) of the 92 experts chose a common Cypriot state that would be a part of the EU.
A further 24 per cent tied EU sovereignty over the island to Turkey’s full membership to the EU, revealing that the foremost choice of the foreign policy experts panel is a common state. Only 17 per cent chose the “two-state solution”, and 8 per cent preferred any solution irrespective of the conditions.