BY: FİKRET BİLA*
The Cyprus talks are expected to restart next week in Geneva. The Greek Cyprus administration is like a reluctant seller.
It is a full member of the European Union, representing the entire island as if northern Cyprus has not existed for 42 years and as if the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) has not existed for 33 years.
There is a southern Cyprus that was awarded full membership despite rejecting the Annan Plan in 2004.
The EU is continuing to support it. Counting on this, bargaining is being conducted which will diminish the TRNC, which in time will erode the Turkish Cypriots or force them to migrate, which will extend sovereignty over the Karpaz Peninsula in the northeast and strengthen its strategic position and which will monopolize the eastern Mediterranean natural gas resources around the island.
It does not stop there; they also demand the withdrawal of Turkish troops from the island and the end to Turkey’s guarantor state status.
Any agreement reached under these conditions will be the end of the gains of the TRNC, as well as the end of the Turkish Cypriots, and will pose a serious threat to Turkey’s existence and security in the Mediterranean.
Reputable historian Professor İlber Ortaylı conspicuously summed up the significance of Cyprus in a panel organized by Union of Turkish Bar Associations and the National Opinion Center.
“We have to accept the facts in the Middle East,” he said. “For us to withdraw from Cyprus is out of the question in this situation. We should not allow an international intervention in Cyprus. We should not act like the crazy girl freely distributing her grandmother’s dowry. If there is no Cyprus, Turkey would drown. If people are opting to become refugees right under our nose, we have to think this over.”
Turkey’s guarantor status
The two major obstacles standing in the way of the Greek Cyprus Administration to abolish the TRNC and extend sovereignty over the Turkish Cypriots is Turkey’s guarantor state status and the presence of Turkish troops on the island.
If Turkish Cypriots have been able to live in safety since 1974, the reason is these two assurances. It is not realistic for the Greek side to think that they could easily remove these assurances that are vitally important for the Turkish Cypriots.
Another attention-grabbing aspect is that the Western world, while it is heading every other place, is making an effort to unify Cyprus. In a process where Yugoslavia was bloodily separated based on ethnicity, where Czechoslovakia was separated without blood, where Iraq and Syria have been separated into three pieces led by the U.S., where there are attempts to separate Turkey into Turkish and Kurdish parts, the effort to unite Turks and Greeks in Cyprus, even though they are from different religions and nations, is, if nothing else, very thought-provoking in term of timing.
Solution based on equality
The thesis that the Turkish side has been defending all along has been the solution based on “bi-zonal and bi-communal” equality with two democracies.
The Greek side, Greece and the European countries behind them have never accepted this solution. At each negotiation phase, they have asked for and insisted on more territory, the withdrawal of Turkish troops from the island and the acceptance that Turkey is not a guarantor state. As a matter of fact, in the Greek side’s approach, there is no new step that requires a change in the thesis of the Turkish side. On the contrary, there have been suggestions brought to the table that are even more backward than the Annan Plan, which was full of clauses against the Turkish side.
On the Cyprus issue, there is nothing new, in other words, all is quiet on the Greek Cypriot administration and EU front.
BY: FİKRET BİLA is a Turkish journalist and columnist. He writes for Hurriyet daily newspaper
(Published in Hurriyet Turkish daily on Jan. 7, 2017)January/07/2017