“There are other options but it is the reunification as a federal state that is under discussion right now. If this fails, the alternative is accepting the existence of two different states,” Turkish Cypriot President Derviş Eroğlu said during a meeting with reporters in Lefkoşa on Friday evening. “There are already two different states; one is internationally recognized, the other is not. But even though one of them is not recognized, this is the reality. Therefore I am saying that we can reach a lasting solution if we take action on the basis of the reality.”
But the international community remains unwilling to accept that reality and therefore it is up to the UN to say, so to speak, that the emperor is naked.
“The UN secretary-general should accept that the negotiations are going nowhere. He should assess if a solution is really forthcoming and write a report [to be presented to the UN Security Council] accordingly,” Eroğlu said.
Eroğlu's predecessor, Mehmet Ali Talat, and Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias, first launched the talks on reunification in early September, 2008. Eroğlu later replaced Talat, and Christofias is set to lose his post in the coming months as he has declared that he would not seek a second term during presidential elections slated for February 2013.
Eroğlu said he expected the new Greek Cypriot leadership to be more uncompromising than its predecessor when it comes to concessions for a reunification with the Turkish Cypriots. This is because the leading candidate for president, the center-right DISY (Democratic Rally) leader, Nicos Anastasiades, is unlikely to become the president by relying solely on support from his own party. This would require him to seek backing from smaller and what Eroğlu calls “fanatical nationalist” parties that oppose several basic elements of a future settlement.
“Anastasiades is likely to find his hands tied on this matter,” Eroğlu said.
Recognition through OIC?
Back in 2004, the Turkish Cypriots voted for a reunification plan named after then-UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, while the Greek Cypriots, going to ballot boxes just days before the Greek Cypriot state joined the European Union, voted against it. The EU promises to lift a direct trade ban with Turkish Cyprus have never been fulfilled and the Turkish Cypriot have been feeling the heat from decades-old international embargos even more as Turkey, the main supporter of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC), has also begun implementing austerity measures in regards to the financial support for the Turkish Cypriot state in the recent years.
The Turkish Cypriots are so pessimistic about a settlement that the Greek Cypriots' assuming the EU's term presidency as representative of the entire island for six months in July has made no impact at all on the island's Turkish side, says Eroğlu.
“As the hopes for a settlement die, we need to take steps to revive the spirit of our people,” he said. What he means by those steps is a combination of actions that Turkey as the main backer of the KKTC could take, such as encouraging investments there to revive the local economy, and of actions by the international community to get rid of the isolation, namely recognition.
The Turkish Cypriot officials look to the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), headed by a Turkish secretary-general, as a possible actor that could give the KKTC the sought-after recognition. Officials say granting the KKTC full membership would amount to a collective recognition of the KKTC as a sovereign state.
But with negotiations on reunification on the island still under way, many countries, including OIC members, are reluctant to take steps towards recognition. A UN declaration calling the talks a failure would also be particularly significant because it is the two resolutions from the UN Security Council, dated 1983 and 1984, that constitute the main barrier for KKTC's recognition. The two resolutions condemn the declaration of independence by the Turkish Cypriots and calls on the member countries not to recognize the KKTC as an independent state.
“You cannot ask for recognition as long as the negotiations continue,” Eroğlu said. “But if you end the negotiations in one way or another but definitely in a way that is approved by the UN, then people will start to understand that perhaps these two peoples are not going to reunite.”
But Eroğlu is also aware that any report from the UN secretary-general that acknowledges the talks are dead will face opposition from some Security Council members, most notably the Greek Cypriot ally Russia, as well as from China and France.
“The secretary-general knows that such a report will face veto. Either the secretary-general will be very strong or countries such as Russia, China and France will stop playing this game,” said Eroğlu.