Subpage zur homepage "pro re publica" by Christian Heinze,
2014 03 16

Turkish Republic of North Cyprus
Appreciated by the International Crisis Group
(in English language)

1 Crisis Group, Text of Publication

Vide also the video presentation by Hugh Pope, Crisis Group’s Deputy Program Director for Europe and Central Asia.
Comments by Christian Heinze
2 Divided Cyprus: Coming to Terms on an Imperfect Reality
Europe Report N°229 14 Mar 2014
The publication by the International Crisis Group of 14th March, 2014, breaks the taboo imposed on previous efforts to end the Cyprus conflict
3 Talks have begun – yet again – on a settlement for divided Cyprus. To avoid another failed effort at a federation, new ideas are needed. The basic blockage is that Greek and Turkish Cypriots have separate lives, languages and infrastructure and fear a unified new administration would be more threatening than the peaceful status quo. The blockage (against Turkish Republic of North Cyprus - TRNC) consists basically in the international recognition of Greek Republic of South Cyprus (GRSC) as the “government of Cyprus”, vide (5) below
4 In debate and new backstage diplomacy, they and the international community should test a route to a different unity, including through giving Turkish Cypriots full independence and EU membership. Thinking outside the box may persuade the sides they prefer a federation, not least because the smaller Turkish Cypriot state would be so weak. But a realistic new approach could also be the best way to take advantage of Turkey’s new political will for a settlement, Greek Cypriots’ need for a dignified escape from economic trouble and Turkish Cypriots’ wish to be both in the EU and in charge of their own affairs. The approach is not exactly new. At the latest since the publication of my article "Recognition of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cypris as a Basis for a Just and Lasting Solution of the Cyprus Conflict" in: "Cyprus Conflict 1964 - 1985", published by Rustem & Brother, London - Nicosia - Istanbul, 1986, I have advocated recognition for similar and additional reasons (vide also “Zum Stand des Zypern-Konflikts…” in: Zeitschrift für Politik, Munich 1991, at p. 406-427, reprinted in English under the heading "The present stage of the Cyprus conflict” in my booklet "Cyprus" 2000 - of 1999 - at p. 30-49). In my article "Cyprus 2000" on pages 85 et seq. of this booklet of 1999 I have placed weight on the aspect of long term world peace and stability to be created and granted in some instances by de facto partition. The thoughts contained in these contributions go back to previous considerations contained in my articles “Majority Rule means War” and “The Atlantic Significance of the Cyprus Conflict”, both of 1964, republished in the booklet of 2000 mentioned.
5 Legitimising Turkish Cypriot self-determination has been taboo outside the Turkish Cypriot entity and its backers in Turkey. The Greek Cypriot majority that took exclusive control of the internationally-recognised Republic of Cyprus in 1964 remains utterly opposed in public to formal partition. Its position is backed by UN Security Council resolutions and Cyprus’s network of allies, notably the EU, especially because of Turkey’s 1974 invasion and the subsequent physical separation of the communities.
6 Yet, in five rounds of mainly UN-facilitated negotiations over four decades, the sides have been unable to agree to reunify Cyprus according to the official parameters of a bizonal, bicommunal federation. Thousands of meetings in dozens of formats have resulted only in a glacial, incomplete normalisation of the de facto partition between the Greek Cypriot majority in the south and the Turkish Cypriots in the north.

Officials involved in the fresh round of talks since February 2014 say they are aiming for the lightest federation yet imagined. The chief Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot negotiators have visited Ankara and Athens, opening an important new line of communication. But ill omens abound. Talks on just the opening statement dragged on for five months. Public scepticism is high. Suggested confidence-building measures, rarely achieved through negotiation anyway, have fallen flat. Natural gas discoveries south of the island are still minor and have done more to distract the sides than to unify them. Turkey and Greece, the outside powers with the greatest ability to help reach a deal, support the talks in principle, but their leaders have done little of the public diplomacy outreach that might make them likelier to succeed.
What else could be expected under conditions mentioned in (5) ?
7 The status quo has proved durable and peaceful and is constantly improving. Nobody has been killed on the Green Line dividing the island since 1996. This is owed to Turkish intervention of 1974
8 The main day-to-day problem is not so much the division of the island, but the non-negotiated status of the de facto partition. This is the consequence of the attitude adopted by the “family of nations” (the “taboo”) mentioned under (5)
9 In private, business leaders on both sides and diplomats on all sides appear increasingly interested in a new framework for discussion. Turkish Cypriots voted in 2010 for a leader who openly favours maximum independence for their community. Some Greek Cypriots are privately ready to consider this option, although anger at the injustices of the Turkish invasion and strong nationalist rhetoric still rule the public sphere.
10 This report argues that the parties should informally consider the option of mutually agreed independence for the Turkish Cypriots within the EU.

The feasibility of such an option depends on EU membership procedures that in this case would depend on the voluntary agreement of the Greek Cypriots, whose state is already a member, so has veto rights over a new candidate.
It is difficult to imagine how this could happen as long as support of Greek side according to (5 above) continues
11 To win that voluntary agreement, Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots would have to offer much: to return long-occupied territory like the ghost beach resort near Famagusta; pull back all or almost all of Turkey’s occupation troops; give up the international guarantees that accompanied the island’s independence in 1960; offer guaranteed compensation within an overall deal on property that both sides still own in each other’s territory; drop demands for derogations from EU law that would block post-settlement Greek Cypriot property purchases in any future Turkish Cypriot state; and acknowledge full Greek Cypriot control of territorial waters south of the island that have proven natural gas deposits. a) Varosha is certainly available in return for recognition of TRNC, more territorial adjustments have been discussed
b) Equal military strength of TRNC and GRSC would be preferable (ban of all battle arms in Cyprus with the exception of British bases, device compensating unequal population numbers)
c) Sincerety would allow guarantees, their denial raises suspicion. Vide (13 below)
d) Compensation is being negotiated
e) Free movement could be realized if competence for the organization of Courts of Law and of the Executive Power is reserved separately to TRNC and GRSC (and EU organs)
f) Equal separate control of territorial waters is consequential
12 The existing Republic of Cyprus and a new Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus side by side in the EU might provide much of what Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots actually want. There would be no federal government with cumbersome ethnic quotas that might anyway be struck down by the European Court of Human Rights. The prickly issue of the two thirds of north Cypriot properties owned by Greek Cypriots would become clearer and easier to resolve. If independent, the Turkish Cypriot entity would probably be willing to place its own limits on new Turkish “settlers” from the mainland.
13 13 Turkey and Turkish Cypriots would likely have a defence arrangement, as is possible within the EU.
14 And with a Cyprus settlement, the path of Turkey’s own EU accession process would be open again. This point does not appear very relevant. Turkey is unlikely to join in the foreseeable future
15 Without a settlement, the frictions of the non-negotiated partition will simply continue. Turkey’s EU relationship will stay blocked and the EU and NATO will remain unable to cooperate formally, due to diplomatic duelling between the Republic of Cyprus and Turkey, respectively members in only one of those organisations. Turkish Cypriots will live on in unjustified isolation. And Greek Cypriots will suffer a deeper economic depression, longer deprivation of property rights, costly obstacles in the way of natural gas development, diminishing leverage over Turkey and, perhaps worst of all, indefinite uncertainty. This is the responsibility of the “family of nations” for having supported since 1963 and for still supporting the Greek conflicting party (5 above). Ending this support is the only move necessary to end the conflict and it would be a decisive move because from then on (and most likely only from then on) the Greek side will be obliged to give up its strife for superiority.

To leaders of the communities in Cyprus and the governments of Turkey and Greece:
1. Encourage more open debate on all forms of a Cyprus settlement, especially an independent Turkish Cypriot state in the EU.
2. Pursue without delay direct contacts between all parties, especially through sustained visits by the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot chief negotiators to Ankara and Athens.
3. Encourage parliamentarians, business association leaders, media representatives and academics to exchange visits.
To leaders of the Greek Cypriot community:
4. Privately explore, alongside talks on federal reunification, a full range of settlement options within the EU framework, including recognition of an independent Turkish Cypriot state.

This is not new. Why should Greek side recognize TRNC under the conditions mentioned in (5) ?
17 5. Find new ways to work with Turkish Cypriot institutions, starting with a unilateral lifting of the Republic of Cyprus’s block on Turkish Cypriot direct, tax-free trade with the EU. Since the block is Greek inspired but executed by the “family of nations”, the EU- and/or non- EU-Countries should lift their blockade against TRNC (at least in some preliminary de facto way)
18 To leaders of the Turkish Cypriot community:

6. Bring the Turkish Cypriot administration and its legislation into conformity with the EU acquis communitaire (body of law).
This is an important and justified obligation for TRNC deriving from its own vital interests - with or without recognition or arrangement with GRSC
19 7. Reciprocate any Greek Cypriot normalisation of official contacts.
To the government of Turkey:
8. Ensure a steady stream of reassuring public messages and meetings with Greek Cypriot officials and opinion leaders to persuade the Greek Cypriot community at large that Turkey seeks a fair and long-term settlement.
9. Suspend efforts to achieve unilateral international recognition of Turkish Cypriot institutions and focus on privately exploring terms with Greek Cypriots for a full range of settlement options, including an independent Turkish Cypriot state within the EU.
20 10. Unilaterally extend Turkey’s EU customs union to Cyprus by ratifying the Additional Protocol of the Ankara Agreement, thus normalising trade with Greek Cypriots and opening the half of Turkey’s EU negotiating chapters blocked over this issue. Could be linked with (17)
21 To the government of Greece:
11. Engage with Ankara to underline Greek Cypriot sincerity in seeking a deal and to outline how Turkey could use new public outreach to Greek Cypriots to advance a settlement.
To the UN, U.S., UK and the wider international community:
12. Support talks on a settlement between the two communities with the sustained wider participation of representatives of Turkey and Greece.
22 13. The EU should prepare to inform the sides, if asked, about how alternative settlements might fit into EU norms, including an independent Turkish Cypriot state within the organisation. Better unasked than asked - not just prepare but inform now - this would be an adequate contribution by the EU and some sort of a compensation for its blunder of illegally accepting the Greek Republic of South Cyprus as a member. But can it be expected from the Brussel Burocracy in Greek presence and in due time ?
23 14. Keep the Cyprus agenda open to all forms of settlement that all sides can agree to, and offer to pass messages about and arbitrate on outstanding differences between the parties.
24 Nicosia/Istanbul/Brussels, 14 March 2014