The five-party Cyprus conference held in Geneva on Thursday ended without agreement. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said, “The negotiations will continue at technical level on 18 January” and told reporters that foreign ministers could meet again at a later date. There is a great need for permanent, realistic and equitable solutions that should take into account the common values of both Turkish and Greek communities living on the island, and that should ensure the continuity of peace, tranquillity, security and prosperity. Understanding the recent past of the island will help make clear the stages that have led up to what is happening today.
Located at the junction of Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus enjoys a strategic position on both the East-West and North-South axes. However, due to this strategic importance, Cyprus has remained the centre of dispute, tension, and conflict especially since the beginning of the past decade. Today, under the title “the Cyprus Issue”, it continues to be a topic of extreme importance on the global agenda.
Since the early 1950s, the presence of the British military on the island has sparked adverse and contentious reactions by various groups. The attempts of the Greek administration to annex the island to Greece (ENOSIS), and the armed activities of the EOKA terrorist organisation have caused tension and conflict among the peoples of the island who previously had lived in brotherhood for centuries. The terrorists of EOKA did not only perpetrate oppression and massacres on the Turkish Cypriots, they also did not hesitate to do the same on pro-peace Greek Cypriots who did not support their cause.
From the 1960s up until 1974, through the initiation of the project “Akritas” the aim was to wipe out the Turks. It somewhat bordered and resembled ethnic cleansing of the Turkish presence on the island. They tried to accomplish the feat through a flash genocide and bloody violence operations attempting to directly annex Cyprus for Greece. In response to the unceasing atrocity, in 1974, Turkey launched the Cyprus Peace Operation with regard to the legal rights granted by the 4th article of the Treaty of Guarantee it had signed with Greece, Britain and Cyprus.
The Cyprus Peace Operation resulted in the resignation of the pro-genocide Greek junta government, and the neutralisation of the coup plotter Nikos Sampson. Sampson was the chief perpetrator of the massacres of Turks and the leader of EOKA-B. Both Greece and Cyprus entered a democratic process. Afterwards, the Turkish Cypriots, who were gathered on the northern part of the island to ensure their safety, founded the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus in co-operation with the Turkish Republic, which was followed by the foundation of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) in 1983.
Thanks to the ongoing two-state structure from that day until the present, the acts of violence and terrorism on the island has come to an end, restoring harmony, tranquillity and peace among the two communities. Compared to the time before the ’70s, both sides have come a long way in terms of economy, commerce, tourism and culture. In the end, it has been proven by decades of experience that the two-state structure is the optimal and essential model for the peace and stability of the island.
Despite this obvious fact, in 2004, the international society entered into the process of imposing a dark plan under the name of ‘the Annan Plan’ designed by the then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. The aim was to unite the Turkish people with the Greek Cypriots, although there wasn’t such a need. By making numerous concessions on the Turks’ part, it eventually lead to their total assimilation.
Today with the Geneva negotiations, the Greek Cypriot side, who initially postponed the Annan plan at the time thinking that it could not win enough concessions, has set off on the quest to get a lot more concessions than stipulated by the old plan. Turkey losing the Guarantor Country status in Cyprus, and seceding the 19% of the TRNC territory to the Greek side, which will then be settled by 100,000 Greek Cypriots, are only a small part of the concessions...
Therefore, in the Geneva talks, Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and his delegation must never make any concessions on the most fundamental vital issues, knowing that the text of the agreement, on which they are conferring with Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades, is even more anti-Turkish than the Annan Plan. To elaborate:
* The two-state model is obviously the only solution that can ensure permanent peace and stability on the island, and prevent it from regressing to the pre-1970’s period. Therefore, the political structure of the island should be built on the equal and sovereign existence of the TRNC and the Cyprus Republicas officially recognised by the UN. The current borders should be preserved without any concessions.
* The demands towards the abolishment of Turkey’s legal right of guarantee over Cyprus granted by the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee and Alliance, and the subsequent departure of the Turkish military from the island should certainly be dismissed. The presence of the Turkish army is an element of security and comfort not only for the Turkish Cypriots, but for the Greek Cypriots as well. Akinci’s non-conciliatory statements in this regard are quite elating.
Offering even the smallest tract of the TRNC territory, as a pre-concession during the negotiations cannot be a matter of discussion, even with the intention of establishing trust. The Turkish side of Cyprus has neither the need nor the obligation to build this kind of trust.
* Currently one of the conditions in the agreement that they are trying to get Turkey to agree upon is really a plan to strategically dictate that the title deeds of the TRNC are invalid, and that the current owners of these deeds only have the right of tenure, not property. It is extremely clear what kind of disaster the enactment of such an article would drag the TRNC and its supporters into. Furthermore, it is also clear that such an unfair implementation would lead to countless disputes between the two fellow nations. When the two-state model is taken as basis, formalities such as in what and at what rate the two peoples will merge, the rights of the former owners of properties and lands on both sides, and the state of the current title deeds will naturally be discarded. Thus, disputes that would inevitably arise over these issues will be nipped in the bud before they drag the people of Cyprus into new conflicts and chaos.
* In the case that the above principal conditions are met, many applications that will bring abundance to the island, such as the abolishment of passport and visa applications between the two countries and the recognition of the right of free passage to the citizens of both communities, will enter into effect easily. In this way, the feelings of trust and solidarity, and the bonds of love and brotherhood among the people of the island will flourish and strengthen with each passing day.
Ultimately, within the frame of the current borders, any step that will be taken in defiance of the principle of the two sovereign states and their sovereignty should not be accepted on the parts of both nations. Protecting at the highest level the legitimate rights of the Turkish Cypriots will also be a guarantee for the Greek Cypriots, and will ensure the preservation of a peace atmosphere on the island.
Adnan Oktar's piece in Gulf Times: