The Cyprus problem
The substance of the problem:
Almost half a century, since the illegal Turkish invasion and ongoing occupation, the Cyprus problem – the gravest problem facing the Cypriot people as a whole – remains unresolved. The Cyprus problem is first and foremost an international problem, a problem of invasion, occupation, illegal colonalisation, national cleansing and foreign interventions. At the same time, the problem has its internal aspect too, which concerns the relations between the two communities and the sought federal state structure of the Republic of Cyprus.
Turkey the occupying power continues to flagrantly violate the independence and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus. It continues to violate fundamental principles of International Law, the UN Charter, numerous resolutions and decisions of the General Assembly and the Security Council of the United Nations, the principles and values on which the European Union is founded on, the fundamental rights and basic freedoms of the Cypriot people as a whole.
The solution of the Cyprus problem:
The Cyprus problem must be resolved within the framework of the United Nations and on the basis of the resolutions of the UN, the 1977 and 1979 High-Level Agreements, the unanimous decisions approved by the National Council, international law, European principles and values. The strategic goal remains the transformation of the Republic of Cyprus into a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation with political equality, as described in the resolutions of the UN Security Council. Federal Cyprus will be a continuation of the Republic of Cyprus, one state with a single sovereignty, a single international personality and a single citizenship.
At the same time, the solution must be functional and viable. It must ensure the demilitarization, the unity of the country and people, the common economic progress and development, as well as the respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Cypriots, including the right of the refugees to return and the termination of the colonalisation.
These are the preconditions for the waging of the future common, class, political and social struggles of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot working people.
The handling of the Cyprus problem by N. Anastasiades:
From the very first moment of Anastasiades’ election to the Presidency in 2013, AKEL had warned that his intention to negotiate from scratch harbored very serious dangers. Unfortunately we were not listened to. As a result, we were led to the bringing back of unacceptable positions by the Turkish Cypriot side, which had previously been excluded with the Christofias-Talat convergences. When Mustafa Akinci assumed the leadership of the Turkish Cypriot community in 2014, who decided to put an end to Eroglu’s policy and stated that he would proceed with the convergences, Mr. Anastasiades responded. Progress was subsequently recorded in the talks, albeit through reciprocal regressions.
Particularly important was the abandonment by the Turkish Cypriot leader in November 2016 of the Turkish Cypriots’ longstanding position up until then for the closure of the 4 chapters regarding the internal aspect of the Cyprus problem, before the discussion of the territorial issue at a final stage and subsequently the convening of the conference on security. This change in the stance led to the two meetings at Mont Peléran. While we arrived within range of a convergence being recorded on the percentages of territory, with a deviation of only 1%, the effort failed, so there was a rapid deterioration in the negotiations.
On 1st December 2016, the two leaders agreed to a Conference in the presence of the UN, the EU as an observer, the 3 guarantor powers of and the two communities. We had long informed the President of the Republic about our views regarding the form of the Conference, that is to say, we consider the participation of the permanent members of the UN Security Council as necessary, but AKEL’s views were not listened to. Thus, we were led to the Geneva Conference, where it was proved that no proper preparation had taken place. A meeting of technocrats followed with the goal of preparing the next phase of the Conference on the Cyprus problem, which eventually took place a few months later at Crans Montana.
The talks at Crans Montana were conducted at two tables. On one table, the Conference was held in the same form as in Geneva, and on the second table, the talks were held between the two communities on the remaining key internal issues. The mutual understanding was that the talks at the two tables would be simultaneous and therefore packaged. The talks at Crans Montana, which began on 29th June, ended with the announcement of their termination by the Secretary General of the UN on 6th July, after a long working dinner full of incidents.
With regards their termination, we have before us two completely different narratives. The narrative of N. Anastasiades who claims that Turkey’s final position was the continuation of the Treaty of Guarantee and of the intervention rights. On the other hand, we have the narrative of the Secretary General of the UN as set out in the Report he submitted in September 2017 Report arguing that at Crans Montana a historic opportunity was missed for the parties to arrive at a strategic understanding. At the same time, he exonerates Turkey by stating that all the guarantor powers went to Switzerland ready to find mutually acceptable solutions on the issues of security and guarantees. The Secretary General of the UN apportions responsibilities on the leaders of the two communities.
For a resumption of negotiations:
In the same Report, the UN Secretary General shows the way to achieve the resumption of negotiations. It calls on the two leaders to decide together that they will proceed with a meaningful procedure, defining indeed what he means: the effort should continue from where it had remained at Crans Montana. As to its essential part, the convergences that had been recorded over the years and the Guterres Framework should be reaffirmed. As to the procedural part, the packaged negotiation of the six pending issues should continue.
In the Guterres Framework, what tilts the scales is the clear position of the UN Secretary General for the abolition of guarantees and intervention rights, the withdrawal of all the occupying troops in a short period of time and with only one issue pending, namely the issue of the contingents of ELDYK and TOURDYK. As for the issues of the internal aspect of the Cyprus problem, he notes that we had come very close to solving them.
Apart from the Six Points Framework, during the closing working dinner at Crans Montana, the Secretary General presented an informal document on the mechanism for implementing the solution. A mechanism, which assigns the responsibility of implementation to the UN and assigns only an advisory role to the guarantors. A fact which also explains the Greek side’s positive stance towards this document.
The period after the collapse at Crans-Montana, which was accompanied with Turkey being relieved of any responsibility, was followed by Ankara’s complete brazenness, culminating in its provocative and illegal activities in the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Republic of Cyprus and its illegal machinations in Famagusta. Unfortunately, the collapse of the Crans Montana conference had other ramifications. The trust between the leaders of the two communities was completely lost, who subsequently engaged in negative rhetoric and a blame game. In addition, the belief of both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots that a solution is possible was damaged. In both communities, this situation favors the growth of nationalism and those forces that are increasingly flirting with the idea of the final partition of Cyprus.
The “terms of reference”:
After the failure of the Conference at Crans Montana, N. Anastasiades stated his intention to submit “new ideas” and as expected, the Secretary General of the UN responded that if such ideas do exist they must be agreed previously by the two leaders, with a sense of urgency, and then they should address him for further developments. At the same time, this enabled Turkey to ask the Greek Cypriot side to express its position on whether it wants federation, confederation or two separate states. Thus the “terms of reference” emerged and the UN Secretary General envoy on Cyprus Mrs. Lute’s attempts to arrive at a conclusion on them, which did not yield any substantial results.
The assumption of the leadership of the Turkish Cypriot community by Tatar:
The long period of deadlock and absence of any negotiations had its consequences. New illegal fait accompli were imposed, aggravating the prospects for achieving a solution, which Turkey provoked in both the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone and Famagusta by opening a part of the enclosed area. In addition to these negative developments, Ersin Tatar assumed the leadership of the Turkish Cypriot community, who is a supporter of partition and a two state solution.
To provoke new fait accompli, Turkey exploited its exoneration by the international community for the stalemate. It also exploited the failures and mistakes of the President of the Republic in the handling of the Cyprus problem all through this period. N. Anastasiades, instead of remaining consistent to the agreed basis of the solution, was flirting with the solution of two states. In addition, he appeared contradictory and unreliable. At the same time as he was declaring his readiness to resume negotiations from the point at which they were interrupted at Crans Montana safeguarding the convergences reached, he annulled convergences with so-called “new ideas” on both the issue of political equality and federation.
The informal 5 + 1 Meeting:
The Secretary General of the UN sets as the goal of the informal Meeting the resumption of the negotiations with a view to a successful conclusion in the foreseeable future. In an environment burdened by the negative developments, two key issues at stake in the informal Meeting will be judged:
The first thing at stake has to do with the basis for a solution to the Cyprus problem. The Turkish side now officially rejects bi-communal, bi-zonal federation and favors a two-state solution. In the face of this stand, the Greek Cypriot side must be consistent to the agreed basis of the solution and categorically reject any reference to any another solution. N. Anastasiades must definitively and emphatically end any sounding outs for a two-state solution.
The second thing at stake has to do with how and from what point will the negotiations will resume. The Secretary General of the UN favours the continuation of the negotiations from the point they had remained at Crans Montana, the safeguarding of the convergences recorded and the discussion to be conducted on the basis of the six-point Framework he has submitted.
President Anastasiades states that he accepts Mr. Guterres’ position and that’s good. To be convincing, however, he needs to make it clear that he accepts political equality and the convergences regarding the effective participation of the two communities in the Council of Ministers and, in particular, the rotating presidency with a cross-vote, as well as the one positive vote. If N. Anastasiades continues not to accept them, then there will be no agreement on the resumption of negotiations and he will be held responsible for the continuation of the impasse.
The same negative development will occur if N. Anastasiades insists on putting decentralized federation on the table of the informal meeting. At a time when the other side appears determined to question the agreed basis for a solution, our side chose to open the agreed issue of the central government’s competences by discussing decentralized federation. While it is not a matter of principle whether federation will be centralized or decentralized, provided of course that the President at long last clarifies what he actually wants to decentralize, the key thing is to safeguard the basis of the solution.
The most effective and safe way to deal with any machinations for partition is not to reopen convergences, but to insist on continuing the negotiations as the UN Secretary General requests. This will not give any room to the Turkish side to move towards partition. And if it does, then it will be very clear that it will be held responsible for the failure. However, if the Turkish side in the end decides to adopt the positions of the Secretary General then we will have a resumption of substantive negotiations continuing from where they had left off.
The natural gas and the solution of the Cyprus problem:
In the face of developments and the urgent need to reach a solution, AKEL submitted a comprehensive proposal to President Anastasiades in December 2020.
The proposal includes two interrelated proposals which include the handlings that we believe need to be made. The first pillar of the proposal concerns what needs to be done to resume the negotiations, and the second explains how natural gas can be used to become an incentive for the solution of the Cyprus problem.
- Proposal for a resumption of negotiations
- We adhere without terms and preconditions to the agreed framework of the solution, namely bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with political equality, as defined in the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council.
- We express our readiness to continue the negotiation on the basis of the 2014 Joint Declaration, the Framework of the UN Secretary General as tabled at Crans Montana and the convergences that have been agreed to date.
- We reaffirm the validity of the convergences on political equality and in particular with regards effective participation, including the rotating presidency with a cross and weighted vote, as well as the one positive Turkish Cypriot vote for any decision by the Council of Ministers. To solve any possible problems, the convergence on the mechanism for solving deadlocks must be reaffirmed.
- We, as the Greek Cypriot side, should express our readiness to submit at the appropriate time bridging proposals on the outstanding issues of the UN Secretary-General’s Framework with the aim of reaching a speedy strategic conclusion.
- Proposal regarding natural gas and maritime zones
- Convergences as recorded in the UN document “2008-2012 Convergences”: for maritime zones as a federal competence (therefore, as an issue to be co-managed by the two communities), natural resources also as a federal competence (which by definition includes natural gas) and for the distribution of federal revenue (which will include the hydrocarbon revenues). The specific convergences form a comprehensive framework, which with the solution of the Cyprus problem fully regulates the issues of the maritime zones on the basis of international law, the management of the issue of hydrocarbons and the distribution of revenues from them.
- With the conclusion of a strategic understanding, the issue of the involvement of the Turkish Cypriots in the issues concerning natural gas can be discussed.
- With the solution of the Cyprus problem, a Federal Hydrocarbon Fund will be established, which will succeed the already existing Fund, from which no disbursements are permitted.
- Following the comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem, the United Republic of Cyprus and Turkey will begin negotiations with a view to delimiting the Exclusive Economic Zone on the basis of the UN International Law of the Sea.
- Irrespective of the course of the negotiations for delimitation, after the entry into force of the agreement on a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem, the United Republic of Cyprus and Turkey will begin negotiations for a mutually beneficial agreement on the natural gas pipeline route to Turkey, provided that there is fertile ground from an economic and technical point of view (whether it concerns its own use or transfer to other destinations).
- With the overall settlement of the Cyprus problem, the Federal Republic will not raise any obstacles to Turkey’s participation in the wider energy plans in the region.
No one can guarantee that if these proposals are followed, Turkey and Mr. Tatar will cooperate to resume substantive negotiations and reach a solution based on the agreed framework. It is, however, an effective way of convincing the United Nations and the international community in general of our sincere intentions. This will strengthen our efforts to prevent further partitionist actions and Turkish machinations for a two-state solution or confederation.
We believe that by submitting such a proposal we could be one step ahead as the Greek Cypriot side, proving to the Cypriot people and the international community that we are ready to do everything possible to prevent the final partition and liberate and reunite our country.