The rejectionists favouring the partition of Cyprus play into the hands of Turkey
Regrettably, the rejectionist parties of Cyprus as well as their leaders are playing into the hands of Turkey. Let me explain. In 1974, following the tragic mistakes that were committed by the leaders of the Greek Cypriot community and by the military government in control of Greece at the time, Turkey managed, promptly and at minimal cost, to achieve its stated objective in Cyprus, namely the administrative and territorial partition of the island.
Unfortunately, the attempts made to overturn the faits accomplis have failed miserably, no matter how diligently the Greek Cypriot leadership tries to conceal the fact, with various pretextual excuses. In my opinion, the responsibility for the lamentable current state of affairs rests squarely on the Greek Cypriot leadership and, in particular, the rejectionist presidents of Cyprus, such as Kyprianou, Papadopoulos and Anastasiades.
I understand the pain inflicted by the loss of loved ones, the uprooting from ancestral homes, being forced to relaunch your career from scratch, because I am one of those who have suffered the consequences of war. But that doesn’t stop me from thinking rationally. I would ask all of you, Greek Cypriot voters, to put yourselves for a moment in the shoes of any Turkish or Turkish Cypriot leader and then answer the following critical question: Is there any chance that in a negotiation process you will agree to forgo any of the advantages you have gained from the Turkish invasion, without getting something valuable in return? I have no doubt that, if you are an honest person, you will readily respond to the question by confirming that there is no way you would agree to such a proposal. If so, then what is the point of the Greek Cypriot side continuing to pursue an impossible goal at the risk of losing “both the eggs and the basket” (as the Greek saying goes)?
Mr Christodoulides says that his aim is to resume the “negotiation process”, because he believes he will achieve “something better”. But he ignores the possibility of ending up with something worse – such as reaching another deadlock resulting in partition and in the possible expulsion of Cyprus from the European Union.
The candidate leading the race for the presidency tells us that the Guterres Framework, i.e., the positions of the UN secretary-general himself on the Cyprus issue, must be the subject of the negotiation process. In other words, Mr Christodoulides suggests that we should throw into the waste basket what has been achieved so far with the support of the European Union and of Antonio Guterres himself. Indeed, it was the UN secretary-general, who, in a clear and unequivocal manner, set the withdrawal of the Turkish troops, the abolition of the anachronistic guarantees and the transformation of Cyprus into a “normal” state, as preconditions for an acceptable solution of the Cyprus problem. We turned our back on him at Crans-Montana and thus allowed Turkey to put forward the position that the only remaining option, now, is that of two-sovereign states. Turkey’s narrative is clear and, unfortunately, it seems to resonate well in many international circles.
In 2004, through a negotiation process in which the Greek Cypriot side actively participated, we were led to the Annan Plan, the acceptance of which was essentially set as a condition for the Cyprus’ accession to the European Union. That plan was accepted by the Turkish Cypriots but it was rejected by the Greek Cypriots.
I am not looking at whether that plan was good or bad, nor am I questioning the right of the Greek Cypriot community to reject it, but I am saying that those who negotiated the plan had an obligation to support it. The next attempt to resolve the Cyprus problem was made in Switzerland, under the auspices of the UN secretary-general and in the presence of the European Union. Again, Turkey appeared to be flexible, in contrast to the Greek Cypriot side, which assisted by the Greek foreign minister, appeared to be intransigent. This development was followed by a “brainstorming” session between Anastasiades and the Turkish foreign minister on a two-state solution as well as on other strange proposals, such as the “loose” or “decentralised federation” and the return to the 1960 regime. Of course, I do not know exactly what was discussed behind closed doors, but I am appalled that the formal partition of Cyprus may have already been agreed and that we are in the process of imposing this painful arrangement on the two Cyprus communities.
If this presumption is correct, then the aggressive rhetoric of Turkey and of the current Turkish Cypriot leader can easily be explained as forming part of a plan that has been adopted by the Greek Cypriot leadership, the aim of which is to convince the ordinary people of Cyprus that Turkey is a bloodthirsty conqueror and an unreliable interlocutor, whose aggression makes it impossible to arrive at a peaceful resolution of the Cyprus problem. This is the message that is systematically transmitted by the Cyprus State Broadcasting Corporation, but also by some newspapers in Cyprus (such as Phileleftheros), which are hostile to any kind of compromise with Turkey. This message has been assimilated by the overwhelming majority of Cypriot voters and has been transformed into fear against the idea of reunifying Cyprus. This is a logical explanation for the impressive lead that Nikos Christodoulides appears to have in the gallop polls.
This situation leads to absurdities which are bound to have irreversible catastrophic consequences. Thus, Christiana Erotokritou, Diko deputy chairwoman, recently appeared on CyBC, stating that “the entire political world of Cyprus must stand together on the basis of common positions on the Cyprus problem, in order to overcome Turkey’s intransigence”.
Frankly, I do not understand how a politician, whose party (a) is directly undermining the goal of “cooperation” by seeking to split another political party, (b) is backtracking from the thus-far universally agreed basis of solving the Cyprus problem and (c) is allying with openly rejectionist parties (such as Edek), can make such ridiculous statements or support a presidential candidate, who refuses to reveal how he will attain his stated goals because he believes that “in a negotiation one should not open his cards in advance”. No gentlemen, the Cyprus problem is not a gamble. It is the future of our country and our children. The coalition that supports you, Mr Christodoulides, has as its primary objective their ascension to power and are little interested in the reunification of our country. This is what is at stake in the upcoming presidential elections and it is with this in mind that the voters must choose the candidate they will support. The dilemma is clear. Reunification of Cyprus or partition. After February 12, 2023, you will not be able to reconsider your decision.
Christos Panayiotides is a regular columnist for the Cyprus Mail, Sunday Mail and Alithia