Cyprus Mail
CM Regular Columnist Opinion

Building a federated system of governance

An EEZ delineation agreement between Cyprus and Turkey should be arrived at by jointly referring the matter to the International Court of Justice

By Christos P. Panayiotides

Last Monday, I attended an event that was organised by the Canada-based Forum of Federations, in collaboration with the High Commission of Canada in Cyprus. The Forum of Federations is a not-for-profit organisation serving as a clearing house for sharing international best practices on federalism and devolved governance. Some of the ideas presented revolved around the federal institutions that could play a vital role in a federated Cyprus.

The fundamental feature of a federated structure is that its objectives and its broad goals are uniform, i.e. they are identical or very similar throughout the federation. Any differences between the federated states have more to do with the formulation and the implementation of policies. The impact of these are confined to a “local” segment of the federation and have no impact on the other federated states.

The ideas relating to security should be of particular interest and despite the technical details, all I can say in my defence is that “the devil is in the detail”.

As an independent and sovereign state, Federal Cyprus should be able to deal with external international and regional security threats and be in a position to assume a constructive, peace promoting role in the region. The Eastern Mediterranean is emerging as a challenging security conundrum, which involves some new security threats, emanating from terrorism, cybercrime, humanitarian crises and illicit trade. Thus, Cyprus will need to develop its own external security institutions and regional security collaborations. The federal institutions needed to successfully respond to these challenges would probably include the following bodies:


A Federal Security Council (FSC) would bring together civil security and military security institutions (e.g. the defence ministry, the director of the intelligence services, the foreign minister, the reconstruction and social cohesion minister, the interior minister and the director of the Early Warning and Early Response System) to ensure that a comprehensive holistic approach to security is attained. The Federal Security Council would deal with internal and external security challenges and emergencies; it would provide advice to the president and other relevant law enforcement agencies; it would collaborate with the police and the joint chiefs of command of the Federal Rapid Reaction Force (FRRF) and the Federal Coastguard and Air Defence Service (FNAD).


A Federal Intelligence Service (FIS) would collect intelligence that is necessary for combating internal and external security threats, such as terrorism, cyber attacks, air and maritime offensives; it would build cohesion and trust between federal and constituent state security institutions and it would collaborate with third-country intelligence agencies.


A Federal Rapid Reaction Force (FRRF) would comprise Cypriot and possibly other EU personnel under a joint command; it would be responsible for asymmetric threats and domestic emergencies; it would contribute to international missions; it would integrate best practices from other multi-communal security forces; it would adopt an ethos of ‘shared security – shared responsibility’ and integrity policies among servicepersons. If necessary, the FRRF could be triggered to deal with emergencies through a distress call from constituent state authorities.


A Federal Coastguard and Air Defence Service (FCAD) would comprise Cypriot and possibly other EU servicepersons; it would address regional security challenges and would protect the external borders, the airspace and the offshore economic activities of Cyprus.


An Agreement on EEZ Delineation and Exploitation would have to be struck swiftly. An EEZ delineation agreement between Cyprus and Turkey should be arrived at by jointly referring the matter to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and by abiding to its ruling. It is important to note that such referrals bind only the referring countries and have no impact on other neighbouring countries. Equally important is the conclusion of an agreement between the constituent states on the sharing of the benefits emanating from the exploitation of the Cyprus EEZ. Part of these benefits could be utilised to cover the cost of the public services provided at the federal level. Such an agreement is essential for preventing tension and deadlock, particularly during the initial transition period.


An Effective and Communally-blind Police and Judiciary is of vital importance and it could be achieved (a) through the establishment of mixed/bi-communal police units at the constituent state level (in addition to the Federal Police), which would respond to inter-communal incidents and would overcome language barriers/any perceived communal bias, (b) by making it possible (through an appeal process) to challenge a judge on grounds of discrimination, and (c) through a system of an international monitoring of the justice and civil security institutions, particularly during the initial transitional period and until the achievement of a culture of non-discrimination and communal blindness in the justice and security sectors.


Federal Commission on Human Rights (FCHR) would monitor and audit the federal and constituent state institutions to ensure that human rights are enjoyed by all; it would report infractions to the prosecuting authorities; it would liaise with specific institutions to help improve their practices; it would recommend legislation; it would promote gender equality and mainstreaming.


A Federal Public Administration Commission (FPAC) would include a Public Administration Academy, focused on promoting effectiveness, transparency and the modernisation of public institutions, at all levels; it would propose legislation and other measures to combat corruption and nepotism; it would adopt quotas to ensure the inclusion of women and young people in government; it would adopt transparent public employment processes; it would promote bilingualism within the public institutions; it would organise internal training and retraining of civil servants; it would facilitate the transition process (e.g. integration of ex-military personnel).


A Ministry of Reconstruction and Social Cohesion (MRSC) would promote the harmonious relations between the communities of Cyprus by (a) monitoring the work of the Immovable Property Commission from the perspective of social and economic reconstruction, (b) developing and implementing a trust-building action plan between the members of the different communities, (c) coordinating and bridging institutions that would otherwise lack a federal link, (d) encouraging and supporting cooperation between the professional associations of the constituent states, (e) commissioning research into drivers of civic loyalty and political extremism, and (f) monitoring the state of social and economic equality at the local community level and recommending appropriate remedial measures (e.g. provision of EU Regional Funds).


Council of Unity and Cooperation (CUC) would be an “all-inclusive” advisory body for providing moral guidance in times of social tension and crisis, contributing to the resolution of deadlock situations through mediation at the federal level and by exercising an oversight role over the Ministry of Reconstruction and Social Cohesion during the transition period. The members of the council should be selected in a manner that would ensure cross-communal support and endorsement by both communities.


An Early Warning/Early Response System (EWER) would detect emerging security threats; it would develop an effective preventive response, such as mediation, dialogue facilitation and multicultural education, in coordination with local authorities and other relevant institutions, including the federal and constituent state police when necessary; it would prioritise the peaceful management of ‘contact hotspots’, where members of the two communities would be most likely to experience friction on a daily basis (e.g. territorially adjusted areas and communities with many returning displaced persons). This system should be transitionally coordinated by a hybrid international organisation (such as the European Union and the United Nations) until its role can be assumed by the Federal Government.


A Staged Transition via an Agreed Implementation Plan would clarify the obligations of all sides, particularly in respect of troop withdrawals and the redeployment of Cypriot security forces, the establishment of federal institutions, the power-sharing verification mechanisms and the milestones set for addressing non-compliance issues, including a commitment to take unresolved implementation disputes to an international court or other mediation body that would act on the basis of international law and would fully respect the sovereignty and integrity of Cyprus. Such an agreement would incorporate an irrevocable undertaking by all the parties involved in the process to accept and abide by the rulings (including the remedies stipulated in such rulings) of the courts or other mediation bodies.


Christos Panayiotides is a regular columnist for the Cyprus Mail, Sunday Mail and Alithia

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