Why the lack of progress on the Cyprus question?
Despite numerous attempts to reunite Cyprus, which has been divided since 1974, little progress has been made on the issue. In late September UN Secretary-General António Guterres invited the leaders of the Republic of Cyprus and the Republic of Northern Cyprus (which is only recognised by Turkey) to lunch in an attempt to revive reunification talks. Commentators examine the reasons for the stalemate.
Too much attention for noisy minorities
Many Cypriots would basically be in favour of reunification, writes Cyprus Mail columnist Christos Panayiotides:
“It is true that in Cyprus we still have two relatively small but vocal groups of extremists who systematically promote ethnic hate and mistrust, either out of sheer stupidity or to serve their own self-interests. The truth is that the three guarantor powers Britain, Greece and Turkey have done absolutely nothing to prevent or, at least, restrain these people from acting in a manner that fuels the racial and ethnic separation of the two Cyprus communities. What is actually amazing is that, despite the clear failure of the guarantor powers to serve the role they had undertaken, a very significant segment in each community is still in favour of the reunification of Cyprus, under the umbrella of the European Union. However, they are afraid and concerned that, in the absence of an effective mechanism for diffusing conflict, the extremist elements that previously succeeded in spelling trouble for Cyprus may strike again.”
We need to change the negotiating climate
For progress to be made on the situation in Cyprus a climate of trust must be created first, explains Hürriyet Daily News:
“If the Greek side, the U.N., the EU and even the United States want a result-oriented new Cyprus process, wouldn't it be wiser for them to soften the climate with small confidence-building measures between the two sides on the island to create conditions under which the Greek side can accept equal sovereignty? Despite all the objections of the Greek side, it is now becoming clear that the new [blame] game will be axial to 'confidence-building measures'.”