By George Koumoullis
THERE has been a lot of talk lately about the two-state solution. Very little though is being said about the consequences of this solution. It appears there is some taboo in Cypriot society which prevents us from referring to the consequences of our actions.
The scenarios for a new national tragedy in the event that we end up with two states or a confederation are viewed with suspicion, mockery and disbelief. Perhaps we should not be surprised because looking back at our history it is clear that opportunism has always been our forte, for which we have sadly paid a very high price.
It is considered highly unlikely, if not impossible, there would be an elected president of the republic to recognise the occupied territory of Cyprus as an independent state. With their signature they would reward the Turkish invasion and whet the appetite of the occupier to conquer more territory, while also perpetuating the Turkish presence on island and, inevitably, intervention rights.
What is meant by a two-state solution is our official or unofficial acceptance of the continuation of the status quo. It may sound like an oxymoron, but in the end the solution of our national problem will be the non-solution. Unfortunately, there are credible indications that this is what we will end up with. If Rauf Dentash’s soul has been kept aware of what is happening in Cyprus, rest assured it is ecstatic right now.
It is extremely difficult for the ‘TRNC’ to be internationally recognised as an independent state. The most likely development is that it would attain ‘Taiwan’ status. This term implies the non-recognition of the ‘TRNC’ as a state, but it would still allow the development of normal relations with other states, without having diplomatic relations. In the long term, however, the ‘TRNC’ would be completely integrated with Turkey and for this integration to be legitimised there would have to be a referendum. It would be a nightmarish conclusion for the Greek Cypriots because Cyprus and Turkey would have borders almost 200km long (and not natural borders that provide some sort of protection).
Let us take a look at the possible consequences in the short-, medium- and long-term. In the short-term it would be a psychological blow to those who for so many years entertained the hope of return. The people that would feel this most would be from Morphou and Famagusta. The latter, especially, would see their town being settled and recall with pain and fury the opportunities they had to return, like in 1978, and spurned. For the older generation, at least, it would be grief without relief that they would carry in their heart until their last breath.
In the medium-term, we will have very serious problems to face within a decade. The UN is determined to pull out the peacekeeping force that came here in 1964 for … six months. The UN’s exasperation over Unficyp’s extended stay is fully justified. In such a case what would happen with the buffer zone? When there are territorial disputes it is a painful truth that the will of the powerful prevails. The buffer zone includes Nicosia airport which the Turks could demand to reopen and operate. What security would we feel faced with a hostile Turkey, without natural boundaries, given her countless violations of Greece’s airspace and territorial waters?
There is also the issue of the hydrocarbons that will exist as long as the Cyprus problem remains unsolved. In my humble opinion, the belief that we would be able to exploit this natural wealth without a settlement is naïve. Turkey’s threats should not be underestimated. An incident in our Exclusive Economic Zone could sink our economy.
In the long term, the consequences would be nightmarish. The population in the north would grow much bigger than that of the south as a result of the arrival of settlers from Turkey. An example is the population of Kyrenia which had 3,500 residents before the invasion and now has 42,000. The Turkish Cypriot community which has already become an endangered species will not survive. Our new neighbours, the Turks, are very different to the Turkish Cypriots and it is doubtful there would be any contact to ensure peaceful coexistence.
In the long term, we cannot rule out the danger of mass emigration of Greek Cypriots to other EU states because of insecurity or the collapse of the economy that could be caused by border clashes. This possible development, combined with the flow of Turks with Cyprus passports, could eventually turn Greek Cypriots into a minority in the Cyprus Republic, which is when Turkey would take over Cyprus through a referendum, along the same lines as Alexandretta in 1939.
It is a matter of the greatest urgency – in order to save Cyprus from the deadly dangers that threaten it – to secure a settlement based on the Guterres framework. The political quest for a two-state solution constitutes an amalgamation of opportunism, vanity, narrow-mindedness, ignorance, treachery and financial interests. Its possible adoption would throw us into the abyss.
George Koumoullis is an economist and social scientist