Which framework for the Cyprus problem?
by Giorgos Kentas, PhD candidate at the Vrije Universiteit Brussels
One and a half years after the rejection of the Annan Plan, it is time to consider the future of the Cyprus issue. The framework for a settlement has always been the central question. The current discourse on the basis for a solution to the Cyprus problem is controversial at best. The Cypriot government calls for an array of amendments to the final version of the Annan Plan so that it can be functional and viable. The Turkish Cypriot community and Turkey, on the other hand, contend that any changes to the Plan should not afflict its balance, since the Turkish Cypriot community has endorsed that Plan in the April 2004 referendum. The question is how to reconcile those two antithetical approaches in order to pave the way towards a settlement of the longstanding Cyprus issue. In our view, the thesis that the Annan Plan is the only framework on which the settlement of the Cyprus issue should be based is wrong. The Annan Plan enfolds the problem in a vicious circle and leads to stalemate.
The Cypriot government maintains that if a new initiative is well prepared it will be successful. Good preparation, however, could mean lots of things. How to get Turkish Cypriots and Turkey to agree on various revisions on the Annan Plan is the issue at stake. The UN secretarial, the US and the UK have been considering the Annan Plan as a balanced and fair proposal that Greek Cypriots should have accepted. Recently, however, those actors seem to accept some revisions on the Plan in order to accommodate Greek Cypriot concerns. They called President Papadopoulos to present the Greek Cypriot positions to the UN. The Cypriot President delegated Mr. Tzionis, the Head of the President’s Diplomatic Office, to present the Greek Cypriot areas of concern to the UN. Mr. Tzionis visited New York and delivered the Greek Cypriot positions. A UN document that leaked to a Greek Cypriot newspaper outlines those positions. According to “Politis’” reportage, the Greek Cypriot leadership seeks amendments in the areas of government, security and guarantees, territorial adjustments, demographics (settlers), properties, and federal economics. Moreover, Greek Cypriots assume that any new initiative should not be bound by strict timetables. The final framework of a settlement should be a product of an agreement. Greek Cypriots also maintain that the UN Secretary General should not be endowed with the prerogative to arbitrate the disputes between the parties. Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership, however, rejected those proposals. They claimed that, if endorsed, they will undermine the balance of the Plan and inflict the status of the Turkish Cypriot community.
It is difficult to see how a new UN initiative for Cyprus could succeed under these circumstances. It will not be easy at all to bridge the Greek and the Turkish Cypriot antitheses within the framework of the Annan Plan. The only visible alternative is the UN to present a new framework for negotiations which will be based on the new legal and political realities on the ground. A new framework should take into account the fact that Cyprus is a full-fledged EU member state. A new basis for a settlement of the Cyprus issue cannot ignore the principles on which the EU is founded, viz. democracy, the rule of law and human rights. In drafting a new framework for negotiations, the UN secretarial should include all the elements that characterize an independent EU member state and embrace the decisions made by international Courts and other organizations on Cyprus. The sovereignty and the security of a united Cypriot state should be administered by its people and its government and not by any other (guarantor) power. In order to be fruitful, negotiations for a Cyprus settlement should be based on a fresh framework which will reflect the prospects of a promising future, not the mistakes of the failed past.
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