Is Cyprus on the brink of reunification?

The negotiations on the reunification of Cyprus have been postponed until next week. The guarantor powers Greece, Turkey and the UK joined the talks for the first time on Thursday. Europe needs a reunified Cyprus, commentators stress and call for more transparency in the negotiations.

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Webcafé (BG) / 12 January 2017

Europe needs some good news

The reunification of Cyprus would be the kind of success story Europe urgently needs right now, writes Webcafé:

“At first glance the Cyprus question appears to be a problem between three countries, but this is deceptive. All Europe is closely observing what happens there because it urgently needs a sign of unity. After the series of attacks, the refugee crisis and Brexit, the reunification of Cyprus would be a success story that could bring Europe closer together. Given the present anti-migrant mood in Europe, an island where Muslims and Christians live peacefully together would send an important signal that this model of coexistence can work.”

Simerini (CY) / 12 January 2017

Border plans must not be kept secret

One of the main sticking points in the talks is where the borders should lie if the island becomes a federation. Both sides exchanged maps with their proposals on Wednesday. The citizens need to be informed about the options before they vote on reunification, Simerini warns:

“President Anastasiades must not accept an agreement that conceals the contents of the two maps. He must make it clear to the Turkish side that the Greek Cypriots who fled must know which areas they can return to and which will be subject to Turkey's sovereignty. There has been enough concealment. The citizens must be fully informed.”

Die Presse (AT) / 10 January 2017

Success would be good for all sides

A successful outcome to the Cyprus talks would be positive for all sides, Die Presse writes:

“An agreement would give President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has seen his reputation suffer abroad recently, the chance to show the willingness to make diplomatic compromises. Moreover, maintaining northern Cyprus is a financial burden for Turkey. In the last decade Ankara has poured around three billion euros into the north of the island, which isn't even recognised internationally. … Obama has only a few more days in office. If he leaves his post having secured a solution for Cyprus this success will reverberate for a long time to come. The same goes for UN Secretary General António Guterres - just a few days in office and already a historical notch in his belt. Embroiled in rows over Brexit the UK, the third protecting power on the island alongside Turkey and Greece, could also do with a few positive headlines. And Greece, economically weakened and plagued by internal struggles, would also have one problem less to deal with.”

Stuttgarter Zeitung (DE) / 10 January 2017

Too many issues remain unresolved

It's naïve to think that the talks will be successful this time around since so many things still remain unresolved, writes the Stuttgarter Zeitung:

“For example, where exactly the border will lie between the two constituent republics hasn't been discussed yet. This will determine how many people may have to be resettled. And the assets issue remains open too. Who owns a house that a Turkish Cypriot built on a piece of land owned by a Greek Cypriot who fled in 1974? Nor can anyone say how much reunification will cost - or who is going to pay for it. Moreover almost everyone living in the Turkish part wants Turkey to continue stationing soldiers on the island, while almost all those in the Greek part are against this. And finally Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also has to agree to the deal, and it would be a miracle if he did given that only recently he laid claim to several Greek islands in the Aegean.”

To Vima Online (GR) / 10 January 2017

Nicosia should hold out for better terms

The Cypriot government's plan to reach a deal before the change of government in the US is the wrong tactic, To Vima criticises:

“Nicosia is inexplicably pushing for a 'solution' before a man is put in charge of US foreign ministry who was active in the oil business and who has invested in offshore property in the Republic of Cyprus - in the republic that exists today rather than in a republic that will perhaps be formed in the future. And despite the fact that the relations between Turkey and the US have only just begun to get really awkward. The new US president has said nothing on the issue so far but there are many signs that relations will continue to deteriorate. … Yet the Cypriot government is still exerting massive pressure for a 'solution' that wouldn't even entail the immediate withdrawal of the Turkish occupying forces.”

T24 (TR) / 10 January 2017

Turkish Cypriots crave prosperity

The Turkish Cypriots ended up with the most profitable part of the island after 1974 but thanks to their industriousness the Cypriots in the southern part of the island are better off today, writes T24:

“The Greeks, like the Germans after World War II, have become rich thanks to their hard work. The Turks had plenty from the start thanks to the assets left behind by those who fled the area and the money sent by Turkey, so they continued to lag behind the Greeks as they did before 1974. Cyprus is the best laboratory in the world for studying why the Christians have advanced and left the Muslims behind. … This is the reason why they are in such a hurry to reach a solution and see the island reunified. They believe that the progress of the others will be extended to them. … But even if the island is reunified the Turks still won't attain the same level of prosperity as the Greeks because prosperity is a matter of organisation and good judgement.”

Kurier (AT) / 09 January 2017

A fresh start for EU and Turkey possible

The potentially decisive round of negotiations on the unification of Cyprus could fundamentally change EU-Turkish relations, Kurier believes:

“Turkey is the key player in the Cyprus talks. And in the recent past its role has been surprisingly constructive, despite the authoritarian and repressive course of the Erdoğan leadership. Ankara has much to gain: until now the Turkish government has not recognised the Republic of Cyprus. If it changes its stance and a Cyprus agreement is reached, however, further prospects would open up to Turkey regarding joining the EU - including for example the free movement of goods or a customs union. And then Brussels would have to decide. Should it freeze the accession negotiations as Austrian Chancellor Kern and Foreign Minister Kurz demand - thereby jeopardising the Cyprus agreement? Or should it negotiate - and overlook human rights violations in Turkey?”

Kıbrıs (CY) / 09 January 2017

Pessimism won't help us

The Turkish Cypriot side is taking an unduly pessimistic view of this week's Cyprus conference and the publication of a draft agreement text, columnist Ali Baturay comments in the northern Cypriot daily Kıbrıs:

“As if the text spelled the end for the Turkish Cypriots, as if we had been hoodwinked especially as regards the Greek population and Cyprus were about to become completely Greek and we as a people were to be wiped out. Doom-and-gloom scenarios are circulating once more. The agreement isn't even in place yet already there's plenty of fear. … I understand the fears. This society has gone through terrible times, but if an agreement is drawn up then we should read the text, look at the roadmap and then decide together if we want to become like Bosnia, Palestine or one of those places, and we can still reject it. … I want a solution that means I can live in a humane way, be a world citizen, and see international law prevail in this country.”

Dromos tis Aristeras (GR) / 08 January 2017

The Republic of Cyprus will die

If a solution is found in Geneva it will still need the approval of the inhabitants of both parts of the island. In a commentary for O Dromos tis Aristeras Author and journalist Dimitris Konstantakopoulos expresses fears that the Greek Cypriots will make too many concessions to the Turkish side:

“The Republic of Cyprus as we know it will be dead and the Turkish presence on the island will become permanent. The inhabitants of the island will then face the choice between accepting something they can no longer change or risking a chaotic situation if they reject the negotiated solution. How legal is all this? … None of it is legal. On the contrary it amounts to a coup in the narrowest sense of the word and in two different ways. It is the worst possible violation of the constitution of the Republic of Cyprus and the EU treaties.”

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