2nd Cyprus Conference 2017

Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

Most recently, the five-party conference was held at the Conference on Cyprus in Crans Montana, Switzerland. The five party conference was held under the auspices of the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres with the participation of President Mustafa Akıncı, Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiades, guarantor countries Turkey, Greece and the UK and in the presence of the European Union, as an observer. Security and guarantee were the two main agenda items. Turkish Cypriot side attended the Geneva conference in good will as they have in the past. 2nd Geneva Conference aimed at reuniting the divided island after more than 43 years, needing to overcome prickly issues in what some fear could be the last chance for a settlement.

UN Highlights New Opportunity

Even, the United Nations (UN) Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on all interested parties to consider the opportunity of Cyprus reunification during 2nd Geneva Conference. In his written statement ahead of the Cyprus Conference Guterres said that he is pleased that the parties are coming together again for negotiations in Switzerland. He added that this determined step which has been taken by the sides has encouraged him.

Stating that the UN would support this effort, Guterres said, “As Secretary-General of the United Nations, I reiterate my steadfast commitment to supporting this effort. I urge all participants to demonstrate the will and leadership required to conclude a comprehensive settlement.”

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TRNC: An Unfinished Agenda

Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) entered its 53rd year as a politically separated nation and its 43rd year as a physically divided country. Two international conferences have been completed during 2017. People are very hopeful to reach a historic agreement after two international conferences during 2017.

TRNC has a strange story of stalemate. 50 years have passed without any solution. Even one generation has been wasted due to inflexible attitude of Greek Cypriot. Sustained socio-economic prosperity, greater political understanding and the greater regional connectivity has been remained hostage because of non-seriousness on part of Greek Cypriot. There has been lack of political will from Greek Cypriot side to resolve the issue rather it has been misused by gaining certain vested interests.

TRNC Needs Certain Guarantees

TRNC wants certain guarantees and presence of troops as an essential part of ongoing negotiations because “zero troops and zero guarantees cannot be the starting point of talks in the upcoming 2nd Geneva Conference. Turkish Cypriot side’s believes that suitable settlement is still possible if all sides attending the conference remain open-minded. TRNC President said, “It is possible to solve the Cyprus problem, which has been ongoing for over 50 years, and to create a future where everyone can live in peace and prosperity on the island. This is the understanding that we are taking with us to Geneva. I only hope that the Greek Cypriot side and Greece do the same”.

TRNC’S Main Focus of 2nd Geneva Conference

President Mustafa Akıncı’s Deliberations after 2nd Geneva Conference

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After the 2nd Geneva Conference, President Mustafa Akıncı met with the UN Secretary General’s Special Adviser on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide and they both evaluated the works of two parallel meetings at the Cyprus Conference. President Akıncı also had a meeting with the Acting Director General, Defence and Intelligence at the British Foreign Office Jonathan Allen. The latest position reached during the negotiations was discussed during the meeting, and the process of the Conference was evaluated.

Respect for mutual security must be honored. The political parties in the TRNC Assembly are hopeful to reach a suitable settlement in the upcoming Geneva Conference. The President briefed the representatives of the political parties on the outcome of his recent meeting in New York with the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades. The political parties expressed their support to President Mustafa Akıncı ahead of the upcoming Geneva conference.

TRNC Prime Minister Hüseyin Özgürgün

TRNC Prime Minister Hüseyin Özgürgün termed 2nd Geneva Conference a positive step to resolve the long outstanding issue. He said that the Turkish Cypriot side wanted an equal, fair and lasting settlement and that the Geneva Summit would be the last stop in the process of reaching a settlement.

Since 2nd Geneva Conference was held without preconditions and all issues were discussed with the hope of achieving a solution, he expressed that an agreement can be reached after Geneva if there is an intention from both sides. Before the 2nd Geneva Conference, he said, “If the Geneva conference ends without success, it will not be possible to reconvene it or to hold long-lasting negotiations again”. He stated that first Geneva conference failed because of the stance of the Greek Cypriot side.

TRNC wants an equal, fair and lasting settlement, and Geneva is the last stop. If no agreement has been reached, Turkish Cypriot people should continue their path along with motherland Turkey”.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu’s Active Role

Minister of Foreign Affairs Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu held an evaluation meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Cavuşoğlu yesterday after 2nd Geneva Conference. The Foreign Ministers evaluated the latest developments within the framework of the Cyprus conference and exchanged views.

Before the 2nd Geneva Conference, Foreign Minister Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu stated that the United Nations has stolen 50 years from the Turkish Cypriots to solve the Cyprus problem. Ertuğruloğlu said that the perspectives of the Turkish Cypriot side and the Greek Cypriot side for solution of the Cyprus problem are fundamentally different, as the Greek Cypriot side considers the Cyprus problem as an ‘occupation’. Territory, security and guarantees have been remained main concerns for the TRNC during the ongoing lengthy negotiations. More than, twelve years have passed since the Annan Plan still any settlement has not yet been achieved on internal security and administrative powers through dialogue. Negotiations and dialogue are the best way to cater the concerns of each community.

Outcome of the 2nd Geneva Conference will be announced on July 7, 2017 but TRNC wants a settlement that respects democratic principles and human rights. The settlement may be based on a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation with political equality. The TRNC is doing whatever necessary to work on a new partnership based on a two-state solution and political equality.

Long under the auspices of the United Nations, the conflict resolution talks progressed from a period of stalemate, suspension, missed opportunities, and general pessimism beginning in 2012 till today 2017. Series of meetings between Republic of Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci and leader of the Turkish Cypriots raised hope of reconciliation during 2017-2017.

Observers of the negotiations were relieved that both sides, along with the three guarantor parties, particularly Turkey, were willing to try again at a 2nd Geneva meeting to continue what was begun at Geneva in January. It is still unclear what either side is willing to accept as a final agreement on security guarantees and troops but TRNC once again showed strong political will to settle the issue.

It appears that TRNC President Akinci, if he could win enough concessions on issues such as political equality and a rotating presidency, and can be comfortable with compromises on security and can be comfortable with compromises on security, he might be able to help convince Ankara to make the necessary concessions on security Ankara may not have been willing to accept. On the part of South Cypriot President Anastasiades, he wanted to reach an agreement on the elimination of Turkish security guarantees and the removal of Turkish troops first otherwise it could likely provide little political advantage for him to reach agreement on any others issues.

Turkish Delegation’s Active Participation and Meaningful Support to TRNC

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During the first session of the 2nd Cyprus Conference the Turkish delegation under the chairmanship of the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu presented an integrated approach to finding a solution with a historical perspective. “We came here for a solution the problem that has been continuing for 50 years must be solved” he said. At a time when all issues were addressed simultaneously, Turkey once again emphasized its political will for a “just and lasting” solution on the island.

Turkish foreign Minister Mevlu Cavusoğlu

Turkish foreign Minister Mevlu Cavusoğlu said that the Cyprus Conference was a final stage of the Cyprus negotiations, and that talks cannot continue for a life time. The minister said, “This should be finalized. If a solution is not reached then the scope of negotiations must change. Then we negotiate for something else.” Cavusoğlu said that Turkey and the TRNC attended the Conference in order to end the negotiation process by finding a solution, and that they expect the same understanding from the other side. He further said that the Cyprus Conference is not only related to ‘Security and Guarantees’, and that each subject is negotiated in an interrelated way. Cavusoğlu said that they have reiterated many times that they cannot accept zero soldiers and no guarantees.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan & President Mustafa Akinci’S Resolve

Before the 2nd Geneva Conference Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Mustafa Akinci decided to continue supporting the positions of the Turkish side on the issue of security and the guarantees. It was decided that neither Ankara nor the TRNC would take a step back regarding the issue of security and guarantees to be discussed at the Cyprus Conference in Crans-Montana.

Misconceptions & Political Confusions

It is bad that an attempt is deliberately exerted to present the chapter of the ‘security and guarantee as ‘security and guarantees’. Turkey is not guarantor of only the one side of the island, that is, of northern Cyprus. It is also guarantor of the Greek Cypriots living on the island, that is, of the whole island. There is a single guarantee over the island. There are not guarantees. The guarantee is a sine qua non. The presence of the Turkish army on the island is sine qua non. The Greek Cypriot side opposes the guarantee but the law does not function even on the issue of the attacks against Turkish Cypriots during the past one year. Let no one expect concessions to be made on the issue of the guarantee and the army in such a case. The Turkish Cypriots, all political parties of the TRNC, state that the guarantee of Turkey is needed”.

The politicians in Cyprus, especially the TRNC President, the negotiator and the government, are doing their utmost to reach an agreement. Turkey also supports the TRNC and has always lent its support to finding a solution.

Main Hurdle

The Greek Cypriot side, which unfairly secured EU membership in 2004, sees the Turkish Cypriot people as a minority. This is the one of the main problem. Turkey proposes to facilitate two equal communities, and a new federation state. Turkey supports this.

UK Proposals

The United Kingdom, a guarantor country, offered two proposals at the 2nd Geneva Conference in order to reach a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus. According to reports, the proposals consisted of a package understanding covering the entire six chapters in the Cyprus negotiations, followed by a mini package concept that would include the main topics selected from different chapters. While the Turkish side reported that they are open for proposals, the Greek Cypriot side did not give a response, and asked for time.

Probable Outcome

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It is appears that the negotiations on the long-running conflict are the best chance, but maybe not the last one, for the estranged sides to get an agreement. Two issues are vexing: Turkish Cypriot demands for a rotating presidency, and Greek Cypriot demands that Turkey pulls all its 30,000 troops off the island, and renounces its intervention rights. Any deal after 2nd Geneva Conference would be put to a referendum in both Cypriot communities simultaneously some time during 2017.

The Mediterranean Island of Cyprus has suffered a long history of foreign domination, violence and civil strife. Now it is the high time to resolve this issue according to the ground realities beyond the realms of power-politics and wishes of imperialistic forces. The will of people of TRNC was kept supreme during the 2nd Geneva Conference.

Brief History of Recent Negotiations

Throughout much of the recent history of the Cyprus negotiations, both sides have periodically reported that various levels of “convergences” had been reached, mostly on the issues of EU affairs, governance, economics, citizenship, and how to resolve and compensate for disputed property. The negotiations are conducted under the principle that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”; thus, the term convergences has been used to describe likely agreement without admitting that agreements have actually been reached until all issues have been resolved.

Conclusion

It is advisable that two sides must have the new federal government that would have powers over external relations, EU policies, citizenship, budget matters, and economic coordination. Moreover, one side would hold the portfolio of the foreign minister and the other side would hold the EU portfolio. Both sides should have a Senate, equally represented, and a House proportionally represented based on population. Moreover, both must agree on a new judicial court that would have equal Turkish and Greek Cypriot representation and an agreement that Cyprus would be represented in the European Parliament by four Greek and two Turkish Cypriot members of parliament. A federal supreme court may be an ideal option to proceed further.

Let us hope that outcome of the 2nd Geneva Conference will be flexible enough to resolve the complicated matters of security, guarantees, properties, profits and territories. Outcome of the 2nd Geneva Conference should work for the recovery of the lost paradise. Dreams of socio-economic prosperity, national dignity, constitutional guarantees and the last but not the least, federalism with equal political, economic and human rights in the united Cyprus should be jointly pursued. Sincere efforts must be initiated to eliminate socio-economic discrimination and strives for equality in its true sense.

Let us hope that the outcome of 2nd Geneva Conference which may be announced on July 7, 2017 may bring some meaningful breakthrough and shun political deadlock, ethnicity and work for greater connectivity through private investments, joint ventures and renewables. Cyprus has huge potential of renewables and energy reserves which needs to be tapped equally.

Mediterranean sea/island has a long history of rich cultures and civilizations converging different faiths and communities for so many centuries. Its waters are sweet enough to absorb the bitterness of the past and dissolve any existing political bitterness. Its sun is so bright to dilute any difference to achieve a bright future full of peace and harmony for both the different communities. Its sand is so helpful to absorb the horrendous of the political past. It ideally provides a basis of socio-economic integration and better political understanding. Hopes are high and stakes too. 2nd Geneva Conference had discussed security and guarantees issues. Let us hope that leader of Greek Cypriot side’s will show some political maturity and flexibility to achieve a settlement after the 2nd Geneva Conference. Let us hope that Greek Cypriot side will be more cooperative, flexible and serious enough to resolve the issue.

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