Both two-states and a loose federation do not work if we wish to remain part of the EU
A fundamental mistake committed by the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities is the presumption that the island can be partitioned into two, and at the same time the two communities can live together and coexist peacefully within a unified Cyprus.
This is the oxymoron that has given birth to the concept of a “loose” federation in the mind of Nicos Anastasiades and to the idea of the two-sovereign states in the mind of Ersin Tatar. A simple analysis of these two ideas readily leads to the conclusion that neither Anastasiades nor Tatar had properly evaluated their proposals prior to putting them on the table.
I must admit that the starting point of my analysis is that both Cypriot communities (including the descendants of the persons, who have opted to settle in Cyprus following the events of 1974) wish to remain in the European Union. Admittedly, if this hypothesis is not valid, then the reasoning set out below can easily be refuted.
The European Union consists of 27 member states of which three (Austria, Germany and Belgium) have the structure of a federation, having nine, 16 and three constituent states respectively. As a rule, the European Union does not have dealings with the constituent states or any other form of local government functioning within these federations; it deals exclusively with the member states, which are represented and participate in the institutions of the union as single, unified entities.
It is undeniable that the European Union has embarked on an evolutionary process of federalising Europe. The progress made in this direction in the past half century of the EU’s existence is enormous and impressive. This conclusion transpires when one examines the fields that make up the areas in which the European Union already prescribes the rules of the game and the penalties imposed when violating the adopted rules. These consequences are wide-ranging and involve hefty financial fines.
As far as the European Union is concerned, the responsibility for compliance with the rules adopted rests with each member state (and not with the administrative subdivisions, which may exist within each state).
The wide range of the EU’s competences emerges from a simple reading of a listing of the fields in which the union has the uppermost regulating hand. Further particulars on each one of these fields of competence can be retrieved from the union’s websites but the list is exhaustive: agriculture, business and industry, competition, culture, customs, development and cooperation, employment, energy, environment, food safety, foreign policy, health, human rights and democracy, humanitarian aid and civil protection, justice, regional policy, research and innovation, single market, taxation, trade and transport.
The listing clearly demonstrates that there is no area of human activity that is not regulated by rules formulated at the European level. My question is: how is it possible to confine the competences that are of concern to the northern constituent state to five or six? In other words, the supporters of the idea of a “loose” federation must clearly tell us, which fields of activity (from those listed above) should be managed exclusively by one or the other future constituent state of Federal Cyprus?
Look at the other side of the coin. If the proponents of the “loose” federation are prepared to cede to the northern constituent state the right to act unilaterally, what will happen if human rights are violated there? If competition is unfair? If food safety is deficient? If justice is faulty? If the single market is not working? If the environment is being destroyed? If culture is raped? If customs allow uncontrolled imports of goods from neighbouring countries? If the protection of public health is inadequate? If taxation creates conditions of unfair competition etc, etc, etc?
And most importantly, what is it likely to happen, if each constituent state has the ability to shape the rules of the game independently of the other constituent state? Under these circumstances, what will stop external interventions in the process, which understandably will seek to serve alien interests, rather than those of Cyprus?
The reality, which we must all digest, is the following: There are big powers that want to see Cyprus partitioned, because one piece will be in constant confrontation with the other piece, and it will be anxiously looking for foreign protection. This is precisely the rationale behind the two states and its disguised form, which is the loose federation. These are the forces that have systematically prevented and continue to prevent the reunification of Cyprus. These are the forces that appear to have recruited Cypriot allies and are utilising them in the struggle for undermining the independence of our country.
The loss of independence does not result from being part of a larger group of your choice (such as the European Union). The loss of national independence is the result of a country’s political choices being dictated by foreign interests, in a manner that is designed to serve such foreign interests.
In my mind, there is absolutely no doubt that the one-positive vote must be secured from both constituent states, so that they are jointly responsible for shaping the rules, but always on the basis that the primary rules are formulated at the level of Brussels, and on the understanding that the “petty” rules will be formulated at the level of the local governments, on the strength of the authority that will be delegated to them on a case-by-case basis. Clearly, implementing the rules that have been jointly formulated must rest with the executive arm of each constituent state, while the enforcement of proper implementation rules must rest with the judiciary.
The comprehensive set of ideas for quickly reaching an agreement on the reunification of Cyprus can be found on the website: https://www.eastmed-thinktank.com along with the facility to state your thoughts, concerns and possible objections.
Christos Panayiotides is a regular columnist for the Cyprus Mail, Sunday Mail and Alithia