A new chance for peace in Cyprus?

The UN has announced that significant progress has been made in the talks for the reunification of Cyprus, which has been divided since 1974. The talks are to resume on November 20 in Geneva. Hardliners on the Greek Cypriot side will block an agreement, some commentators believe. Others call for more optimism.

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Cyprus Mail (CY) /

Hardliners will block agreement

The negotiations are said to have been interrupted at the behest of Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, who wants to discuss the plans with the parties at home first. But he shouldn't be too optimistic about the outcome, the Cyprus Mail warns:

“The break he requested, we suspect, was primarily aimed at managing the situation at home keeping the inevitable, angry reactions by the rejectionist parties in check and also allowing him to claim that he had consulted the National Council [the top advisory board on the handling of the Cyprus question] before finalising the criteria [on the agreement with the Turkish Cypriots]. .... But he may be overestimating his powers if he thinks that with these tactical manoeuvres he could bring the hard-liners on side. ... The time of managing the home front by walking a tightrope and pandering to the rejectionists is over, as he will find out when he briefs the National Council.”

Cumhuriyet (TR) /

Keep optimism alive

Cumhuriyet calls for more optimism in view of the Cyprus talks:

“On the pro-reunification side we now have Anastasiades and [the president of the non-recognised Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus] Mustafa Akıncı, who has always pushed for a solution. Akıncı is determined to reach a solution, but the perception that Ankara has the last say seems unshakeable. On the other side, will Anastasiades, who faces the test of elections next year, manage to overcome the Greek Cypriots' unwillingness and the resistance of the opposition? To judge by the latest polls on the Greek side it seems he will. … There is no lack of pessimists, but this is a phase in which we should try to keep optimism alive. Because if it comes to another blockade it's clear that Turkey will annex northern Cyprus. This is why the proponents of a solution never tire of stressing that the main thing is to have courage”

Cyprus Mail (CY) /

Annexing northern Cyprus is Erdoğan's Plan B

If the negotiations fail Northern Cyprus could face a similar fate to Crimea, the Cyprus Mail predicts:

“We may never have agreed to any time-frames but Turkey’s President Erdogan has imposed his own end of the year deadline, a point made by President Anastasiades at last Sunday’s national council meeting. Erdogan, unlike the Greek Cypriot side, has a Plan B in the event there was no deal by the end of this year. In 2017 he has plans for a referendum on the status of the north - as had happened in Crimea - with a view to its annexation. It is as part of this Plan B Turkey has also signed a deal to supply electricity to the north; 26,000 citizenship applications by Turks, which had been put on hold because of the talks, would also be approved next year.”

Hürriyet Daily News (TR) /

Reunification not the best option

The international community is entering the Cyprus talks with the wrong objective, writes Hürriyet Daily News:

“Despite the reluctance of Greek Cypriots about the creation of a new partnership federation on the basis of political equality, bi-zonality and bi-communality, and the demand of Turkish Cypriots to have their own state, the international community for some strange reason insists that the two must marry. Neither wants the other. Both want to walk their own roads. Why are outsiders insisting on this marriage? ... So while the Mont Pelerin round of talks appear doomed to collapse, there will neither be annexation or a deadlock. Perhaps the two sides will finally start talking about a velvet divorce.”

Cyprus Mail (CY) /

Stop Turkification with reunification

In view of all the construction work going on in northern Cyprus Loucas Charalambous argues in Cyprus Mail that the divided island must be reunified as quickly as possible if the Greek Cypriots want to get their country back:

“There are no last opportunities, according to our political dwarves and therefore there is no reason to be in a hurry. ... I do not know if they have ever been to Kyrenia [in northern Cyprus]. But even if they have never gone, I cannot believe they have not heard or asked to be informed about what was going on there, especially since 2004. Because faced with the stark reality, which anyone visiting the north can see, only people who had escaped from a mental hospital would claim that that lost opportunities were a myth. ... Using the terminology of these fools, even a child can realise after a stroll in Kyrenia that we have already 'become Turkish'.”

Politis (CY) /

Fear of reunification

For a reunification to be a success a lot needs to change in the Greek Cypriot mentality, Politis fears:

“The idea of living together, of coexistence, generates fear. It was not always a priority of the political leadership to promote a culture of mutual understanding and respect. When we went to school and there were lots of road blocks because of demonstrations against the Turkish government, no one told us that the Turkish Cypriots weren't our enemies but those we would live together with - once the solution we were shouting for was found. … Moreover the Greek Cypriots are scared by the idea that they might have to give the Turkish Cypriots a piggyback economically. And no one is saying that the constituent states will have a certain amount of autonomy. … So how can they not be afraid? … Has anyone drawn a calm, realistic and objective picture of a reunited Cyprus?”

Simerini (CY) /

Greek Cypriots headed for disaster

The biggest sticking points in the negotiations appear to be in the area of security. The Turkish Cypriot chief negotiator Mustafa Akıncı insists that even after reunification Turkey must remain the guarantor power of the northern part of the island. For the Greek Cypriot daily Simerini this is out of the question:

“What Akıncı is trying to negotiate is not a reunification but a division. He is not discussing the withdrawal of the Turkish army but its legitimation. He wants to establish two different states. … What Akıncı describes as 'progress' would mean that the Greek Cypriots would end up leaving the island. If the Turkish state has the power to decide whether it brings military aid to the island, if the Turkish Cypriots' share in political power is greater than its proportion of the population warrants, if the Greek Cypriot refugee who returns to his home [in the occupied north] is faced with a horde of settlers waiting to chase him away with stones and sticks, this is not a solution. It is a disaster”

Karar (TR) /

Turks don't have to go along with everything

Turkey should support efforts to find a peaceful solution, but not unconditionally, the Turkish daily Karar comments:

“The technical obstacles blocking a solution to the Cyprus issue are being removed, but unfortunately the political obstacles will remain. … Turkey is supporting the peace process above all because the Turkish Cypriots want it. In this way it can avoid paying the price of a blockade and adding more problems to those that already exist. It's also clear that the prospect of being able to profit from the hydrocarbon reserves in the Mediterranean is helping sustain Turkey's support. But this support should not be taken for granted. If the UN and naturally also the Greek Cypriots really want a solution, they should bear in mind the interests of the Turkish Cypriots, which also encompass Turkey's expectations.”

Phileleftheros (CY) /

Cyprus becoming a protectorate

The negotiations are heading towards the worst possible outcome, the daily Phileleftheros believes:

“An entire nation will become dependent on other nations. The Cypriot nation. Or to put it more aptly: the Cypriot protectorate. We'll play at being the border guards of Greece and Turkey. Turkish and Greek Cypriots will live opposite each other and their lives, prosperity and peace will depend on Ankara's mood, a foreign judge or other unclear regulations like the ones that led us into the civil war in the 60s. ... What nonsense is now being discussed. And how far these ideas are from the Annan plan which the Greek Cypriots rejected in a referendum twelve years ago. President Anastasiades says that what is now under discussion is better than the Annan plan. And we believe him. But it was Annan himself who said back then that if we rejected his plan the next one would be worse.”

Kıbrıs Postası (CY) /

A solution just around the corner

ExxonMobil's recent application for a license to drill for natural gas off the coast of Cyprus prompts columnist Ulaş Barış to take an optimistic view of the outcome of the negotiations in the newspaper Kıbrıs Postası:

“Would such a huge US company make an offer like this if it didn't see any prospect of a solution in Cyprus? … Would other companies from France, Italy, Qatar and Norway also make such offers? Of course not. Reaching a solution on the Cpyrus issue is not just crucial for the Cypriots but is also strategically important for a number of countries, starting with Turkey, who want to exploit the natural resources in the region. Whether some of us like it or not: a solution is imminent. … The status quo of 1974 will make way for a new draft solution. We will see all this happen in the short term before 26 September, in the medium term before the five-way conference at the end of November, and in the long term in a referendum in March 2017.”

Hürriyet Daily News (TR) /

Greek-Cypriots only keeping talks going for show

The peace talks won't come to anything no matter how much willingness to compromise Turkish-Cypriot President Akıncı shows vis-à-vis his Greek-Cypriot counterpart Anastasiades, Cyprus-born columnist Jusuf Kanlı writes in Hürriyet Daily News:

“Greek Cypriots have not yet accepted that the deal to be reached must at the same time be a primary law of the EU. That is fundamental, as all derogations would vanish in thin air the moment they are challenged in court if they were not made EU primary law. Akıncı believes he has been honestly seeking a negotiated compromise settlement. Akıncı has been defending that if Anastasiades was not sincerely seeking a settlement that would become clear within a month or two. He just could not see that Anastasiades would like to keep the talks going as long as possible because continuation of the talks has become a must so that foreign direct investments and foreign energy deals could continue.”

Politis (CY) /

No solution possible with Turkish fascists

The Greek-Cypriots can't make peace with today's Turkey, Turkish-Cypriot columnist Şener Levent writes in Politis:

“Look at the situation in Turkey and the guarantees on the Turkish side [in the negotiations]. We are facing a dictatorship comparable with that of Saddam Hussein. A state that is opposing goodness, beauty and honesty. Full of deception and betrayal. … And aggressive. An invader. With prisons filled with honest people and intellectuals. An enemy of minorities. And we're supposed to make peace with this country? You may say: 'We don't care about the fascism in Turkey, we only care about our own affairs.' This surprises me. Have you ever met a fascist who hasn't damaged everything around him?”