Meanwhile, in Cyprus

It’s generated amazingly little discussion in the international press, but the Greek and Turkish Cypriots are sitting down and trying to resolve their 35-year-old-and-counting conflict.

The talks started about three weeks ago. They are moving slowly — the negotiators just took a break for two weeks, and they don’t expect to complete the discussions until early next year — but they’re serious.

Cyprus-watchers will recall the Annan Plan, negotiated five years ago in 2003-4. It was supposed to provide a fair and reasonable framework for reunification under a loose federal system. In March 2004, both sides subjected it to a referendum. The Turkish Cypriots approved it by about 4 to 3, but the Greeks rejected it by almost 3 to 1.

That killed reunification for the next four years, but in the last six months it’s jumped up and come to life again. The prime mover here is Greek Cyprus’ new President, Dimitris Christofias. I wrote about his election back in February:

Christofias has said that he hopes to restart talks with Turkish Northern Cyprus, which have been stalled since Greek Cyprus rejected the Annan Plan in 2004. I wish him luck — he’ll need it. Even with goodwill on both sides, reaching a settlement will be difficult; the Turks are still resentful that the 2004 deal was rejected, a lot of Greeks are either apathetic or actively hostile to any negotiation with the north, and both sides will be vulnerable to nationalist attacks on their flanks. I’d say Christofias’ victory raises the chances of a successful settlement from “zero” to “very slim”.

Still, it’s an interesting development. Let’s see what happens.

I still think it’s unlikely this will succeed. Even with good will on both sides, reunification is horribly complicated. Refugee return, property compensation, voting rights for Turkish immigrants, apportionment of power… it’s a real mess.

On the other hand, it’s moved farther and faster than I would have thought possible. And the lack of media attention may be a feature, not a bug: both sides seem to be taking the negotiations seriously, so neither is interested in making a spectacle.

And a successful reunification… well, damn. That would be awesome in about six different ways.

Watching with interest.

8 thoughts on “Meanwhile, in Cyprus

  1. I share your hesitations concerning the likeliness of success. Usually, the conditions are not stable enough for as much time as is needed to solve all issues.

    And then there is one little incident, and everything is spoiled again. But hope never dies…!

  2. Awful generous of Saakashvili to take the media spotlight off of Cyprus wasn’t it? Still, I look forward to the negotiations between Georgian and Abkhaz leaders in 2043. It’s a shame that the latest round of fighting between the English and the Scots will be providing the media distraction at that time, but what can you do?

  3. In an ideal world the EU wouldn’t have let Cyprus join until the question of reunification had been settled.

    But since the Greeks don’t apparently want unification (except on terms they know the Turks wouldn’t accept), the EU should accept the legitimacy of TRNC and have a normal trading relationship with it.

  4. Well,regarding the Anan Plan , it was only “supposed to provide a fair and reasonable framework” in the mind of Turkey and perhaps Anan. A legalized foreign occupation army in your country, intervention rights by a foreign country when a pretext comes along and an EU apartheid where say Brits are allowed to buy propetry that is the result of
    armed robbery with murder, but greek cypriots cannot buy back their own properties is not exactly a fair and reasonable framework.
    So 2004 was a balance of terror thing: Turkey cannot stop the process because this means a sure and final end to its EU aspirations, while Cyprus
    cannot veto Turkey because then there is no way to get Turkey to make any concessions.
    I might add that while Cyprus was working to become an EU member, the so-called turkish CYpriots(a majority of illegal colonists) were still voting for Denktash…
    But anyway, unlike the Palestinians, Cyprus has not resorted to say blowing up people and has gone by the (UN)-book, not getting anything from the UN. The only hope is that this will be a bargaining chip for Turkey’s EU aspirations.

    Christofias and Talat may have a good rapport, but ultimately Talat cannot go against the wishes of Turkey. Which includes the deep state, you know. So, hopes are not too high, but they are still alive.

  5. BTW, regarding so-called trade with turkish- occupied Cyprus, I always find it very odd when countries like the UK are champions of at best borderline cases(like DVD Jon in Norway), like IP(intellectual propetry) rights and are openly friendly to legalizing the product of armed robbery with murder.

  6. Scot: countries like the UK are champions of at best borderline cases (like DVD Jon in Norway)

    I wasn’t aware that the UK had had anything to do with DVD Jon. What do you know that I don’t?

  7. “propetry that is the result of armed robbery with murder”

    This is pretty much all of Europe, depending on how far back you want to look…

  8. Well, the UK is among the countries that strongly support very strong measures(including house searches and toughening laws so that the actions like those of DVD Jon would be illegal in the EU) against ip infringement, which by any measure is petty crime(at best) compared to armed robbery with murder. So yes, UK behavior is inconsistent at best and we have seen no will to prosecute those british citizens that have knowingly bought such property that is the product of armed robbery with murder(some of which was advertised even on this page, under Ads by google).
    Historically that may be all of the world(not just Europe), but these have been legitimized
    if they happened many centuries ago, i.e. nobody is going to question the descendants of medieval lords on the means by which they made their properties.
    We are talking about the recent past(including Helsinki 74, i.e. any such grab not recognized until Helsinki is illegal according to what was agreed there).
    To me it is completely absurd that the EU wants
    more power(e.g. Lisbon) to guys like Baroso and Solana and even an army to send to faraway places, when it is not even thinking of first using this army on its OWN OCCUPIED SOIL(or, preferably first take other measures, like sanctions).

Comments are closed.