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TRNC’s Future and Persuasion of Plan B

Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

Despite sincere and integrated efforts to reach a peace agreement with South Cyprus, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) is still far away from international recognition, greater economic integration and the last but not the least, political mainstreaming.

Leaders of TRNC have been advocating a fair and free 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 wants a new partnership based on a two-state solution and political equality. On the contrary, Greek Cypriots has been negating conflict resolution efforts by different means. Concept of dialogue on the “principle of parity and equality” has been absent and lacking from the political engagements of Greek Cypriots with Turkish Cypriots. It has been engaged in the process of peace negotiations with Turkish Cypriot on a “State vs. Minority” equation due to which more than 100 negotiations have been presented to Greek Cypriots to achieve an agreement but every time, South Cypriot side refuses the deal.

It is now a well-defined lesson of the modern political philosophy and good governance that the most important element of every federation is co-existence and its fundamental principles, such as the right of free movement, free access to the property market and the right to work in every corner of the constituency. All these principles have to be guaranteed in a defined way, controlled and coordinated by the central government which has not been embodied in attitude of the Greek Cypriots.

No peace deal has been finalized during the two international conferences in the presence of international power brokers, three guarantors, high officials of the UN, EU and the last but not the least, presidents of both the Cypriots. Nevertheless, all the political parties of Turkish Cypriot supported its President Mustafa Akinzi.

Unresolved TRNC shows domination of power politics over humanity, morality and ethics. Element of “Difference of Faith” has also been one of the main reasons of its socio-economic disintegration and geo-political unacceptability in the region and beyond. Poor performance of the UN and double standard of the EU have also been obstacles of its peace deal since long.

In persuasion of a peace deal one generation has been wasted due to uncompromising approach and superiority obsession of Greek Cypriot. Sustained socio-economic prosperity, greater political understanding and the greater regional connectivity has been remained hostage because of “triviality” 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.

Right from the beginning, TRNC has been promoting certain guarantees and presence of troops as an essential part of negotiations because “zero troops and zero guarantees” cannot sure a sustainable development and peace in the region. As an expert on TRNC I personally believe a positive development in Cyprus would further strengthen the south-eastern Mediterranean energy collaboration, peace and stability in the wider Middle East area. The European Union (EU) also wants to see a solution that could foster security and stability in the wider region. Furthermore, it also wants to prove that it is a peace-building force, granted with the solution of the Cyprus issue during a time of uncertainty.

Inclusion of both sides i.e. Greek Cypriots with Turkish Cypriots to “European Court of Justice” may a good starting point of “convergence” in the days to come where sense of collective security and justice may also be enacted. Creation of “tri-lingual federal schools”, working along with Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot schools may bring desired levels of tolerance and interfaith harmony. It is also necessary because distorted version of history with elements of prejudice, hatred and bigotry towards Turkish Cypriot have been imprinted among the students of Greek Cypriot in the primary and secondary schools. Cooperation and a goal-oriented approach are fundamental features of politics, away from populism, hatred, and division to reach a doable peace agreement.

Foreign Minister Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu is articulate personality which has been vocal to “think beyond negotiations” i.e. “Alternative Options/Plans” for the TRNC. He has been proactive to highlight the potentials of his country on different regional and international conferences and forums like Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and Organization of Economic Cooperation (ECO), and the US Congress. During his different detailed meetings and interviews with television channel, PBS and Slate Magazine he expressed that it is not possible to revive the failed process. He was of the view that new processes should be discussed in Cyprus and moreover, the UN should open a new page for state to state relations on the basis of equality in Cyprus.

Ertuğruloğlu said that the TRNC will undertake closer relationships with the international community during the new process, and asked for support for lifting the unjustified embargoes against the Turkish Cypriot people. He also stressed that the UN should review its policies in Cyprus for the new process. He said, “Every formula has been tried in the Cyprus negotiations over the last 50 years, yet no success has been achieved, because the Greek Cypriot side does not need to solve it in the current process. He shared that the process in Crans-Montana was failed owing to the stance of the Greek Cypriot side. Their aim was not finding a solution, but to keep us living under embargoes during an open-ended process. But now the old process is over. Only a solution with two separate states can continue in Cyprus from now on, as it is now. Federation talks are over, he further added.

There is a paradigm shift in the survival think of the TRNC as a political entity, country, and community. Prime Minister Hüseyin Özgürgün has said that it is no longer possible for Turkish Cypriots to be considered equal partners with Greek Cypriots, given that official Greek Cypriot documents have recently categorised Turkish Cypriots as an ethnic minority. He asserted that Turkish Cypriots will continue to confer citizenship to the people who live on the island and have invested in it over many years. Turkish Cypriots will not determine their fate by looking at the results of elections in the South; we do not have the luxury of waiting to see what will happen after February he further added.

He emphasized that the TRNC government will work to strengthen the economy and improve the welfare of the Turkish Cypriot people. TRNC will continue on its path with strong democracy and consulting with Turkey on serious decisions regarding the future.

Greece, South Cypriot and the EU have been supporting “Zero Guarantee & Role” of Turkey since long which has been one of the main reasons of its stalemate. Both Turkey and Turkish Cypriots have already rejected a substantial EU role.

Failure of peace negotiations has forced the TRNC to “Look Towards Motherland”, Turkey and momentum of high officials reciprocal visits in recent times confirm a distinctive change in the national and foreign policy of the TRNC. It is not the issue of “Property” rather it has been issue of “People” in the stalemated peace negotiations because the EU has already made a very important decision regarding the property issue, and said that the rights of current users of the property are equal with the owners of the properties. That means that the current users have the same rights with the entitled/registered owners.

Britain being one of the guarantors has floated a “new idea of peace settlement”. Britain’s former Foreign Minister, Jack Straw, believes the only viable alternative is a “two-state solution”. “Only a partitioned island will bring the dispute between Turkish and Greek Cypriots to an end” he added.

He stressed that a negotiated solution to the Cyprus problem through the creation of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation is impossible due to Greek Cypriot intransigence so only viable alternative is a two-state solution. He also admitted a strategic mistake by supporting the EU membership only to South Cypriots. He pointed out last international conference on Cyprus in Crans-Montana failed because of the stance of the Greek Cypriot side. He said that earlier this summer the 11th international effort to strike a deal between the Turkish and Greek Cypriots was rejected by the Greek-Cypriot government as every previous one has been.

“It is time to end the charade that a negotiated agreement to unite the island with a ‘bi-zonal, bi-communal’ government will even be possible,” Straw wrote. “The solution is to partition the island and give international recognition to the Turkish Cypriot state in the north.”

TRNC’s Options

(a) Rigorous persuasion of socio-economic, geo-political and geo-strategic dividends by “amalgamation” with the “Mother-Land Turkey”. There must be enhanced trade and commerce activities between the TRNC and Turkey.
(b) Rigorous foreign policy to win political support within OIC where Turkey Presidency and role would be vital. Seeking full membership in the regional Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), of which it has been an observer member since October 2012 would be an effort to break the embargo and isolation it has been made to suffer for years.
(c) Thinking of holding referendum in terms of Kurdistan and Catalonia may be viable solution for self-dependency.
(d) Taiwan Model of greater socio-economic and political integration

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