| Cyprus Problem |Kıbrıs Postası

THE OPTION WE HAVE BEEN LIVING IN FOR THE PAST FIFTY YEARS…

ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΑ (GREEK) TÜRKÇE (TURKISH)

The official state broadcaster of the Republic of Cyprus, RIK, has published the results of a new survey. Before going into the new results of the survey, which is conducted on a continuous basis, it’s useful to look at the results of previous surveys. It is useful, but the interesting course of Greek Cypriot public opinion on a solution is even more noteworthy.

In the survey, respondents were asked, “Which solution model is good for Cyprus?”

Without taking into account such options as “no answer”, “don’t know” and a few others, the answers given to this question in May 2021 were as follows:

36 percent ‘federal solution’,

21 percent ‘continuation of the status quo’,

19 percent ‘unitary state’,

4 percent ‘two-state solution’,

3 percent ‘confederation’.

May 2021 coincides with the date when Turkey and Ersin Tatar revamped the two-state solution model with a sauce of equal sovereignty at the Geneva summit, and presented it in a 6-point plan. After that date, while the Turkish side initiated intense propaganda for a two-state solution, it also started saying that the federal solution model was dead. Although this propaganda did not bear any fruit in the three years to follow, it was persistently pursued.

Time passes. In November 2022, RIK asked the same question to the participants once again. The answers received were as follows:

36 percent ‘federal solution’,

18 percent ‘two-state solution’,

14 percent ‘unitary state’,

13 percent ‘continuation of the status quo’,

6 percent ‘confederation’.

Although the federal solution is still the most popular model, during the time between the two surveys, the rate of those favouring a two-state solution increased almost 4.5 times! The survey was featured in the Turkish Cypriot media as well, and some voices emerged, saying, ‘our arguments are beginning to be accepted among the Greek Cypriots’.

Then, in February 2023, a new Greek Cypriot leader took office: Nikos Christodoulides.

As soon as he took office, he initiated a campaign of, ‘let’s continue negotiating a federal solution from where we left off in Crans Montana’. He embarked on new lobbying activity within the European Union, pressuring Brussels to “appoint an EU representative and get involved in the process”. This new policy transformed the “either a solution, or economic sanctions on Turkey” philosophy – which Anastasiades previously tried and failed to achieve – into a “convince Turkey of the benefits of a solution” philosophy. The EP (European Parliament) reports came out, Turkey was condemned many times, but the EU did not get involved in the process sufficiently. In the meantime, the Russia-Ukraine war broke out and Christodoulides, like the EU and the entire west, took the side of Ukraine. This weakened the Republic of Cyprus’ ties with Russia. The 40,000 accounts of Russian oligarchs in the south were closed. The search for Russian black money, one of two conditions for the US to lift the embargo, intensified, with 24 financial experts from the FBI scrutinising the financial accounts of the Republic of Cyprus. The second condition, namely that Russian ships cannot enter Greek Cypriot ports, was also put into effect. Relations with Russia became tense.

In the meantime, a close diplomatic cooperation with the UN was initiated. Christodoulides, the hawk of Crans Montana, turned into a dove of peace in the face of Turkey and Tatar’s inefficient new policy! After a break of 2.5 years, the UN reached an agreement with Turkey and appointed a new representative: Maria Holguin. This appointment raised hopes for the new process to begin.

On the other hand, pressure on the EU finally bore fruit and in the new report released by the EP last week, Turkey’s EU accession process was directly linked to the settlement of the Cyprus problem. The decision was condemned by the Turkish side. Time passes.

Then, on 30 April 2024, RIK announced the results of a new survey. One of the questions asked was the same question again: “Which solution model is good for Cyprus?”

This time the answers are as follows:

33 percent ‘unitary state’,

28 percent ‘federal solution’,

10 percent ‘two-state solution’,

9 percent ‘continuation of the status quo’

2 percent ‘confederation’.

As can be seen, it’s worth noting that the ‘unitary state’ option, which had dropped down to approximately 14 percent only 1.5 years ago, has suddenly gained popularity among Greek Cypriots, almost by triple. The reason for this could be considered as a reaction to the recent threatening policy of the Turkish side. In the face of these threats, the people are obviously defending their own state. And they do not want to merge this state with another structure, which is currently and completely under the control of Turkey. On the other hand, the decline in confidence in the federal solution can be attributed to the lack of trust in Christodoulides.

Looking at the other options, it is quite possible to say that the two-state policy put forward by the Turkish side – new in name, old in substance –will never be accepted by the Greek Cypriot community. We can understand this by looking at the previous figures and seeing that they have dropped down by half. In a situation where the option of maintaining the status quo, which means two de facto states, has also dropped down, and confederation is supported by almost zero percent, it is already clear that separatist ideas cannot exist.

Then there is nothing left but unification. And there are two ways to do that: To form a federation, or to return to the republic we abandoned.

Unfortunately, in our island, which has become de facto bizonal and bicommunal since 1974, there is no going back. It is impossible to create a homogeneous demographic structure again. Time does not flow backwards. Therefore, even if I agree with my romantic leftist brothers and sisters, who declare us ‘federalists’ to be traitors just like our friends on the right, this is practically impossible. Moreover, even if we do go back, bizonality would still have to continue.

Therefore, I cannot advocate for something that is practically impossible. Instead, I look for the most likely formula for a solution.

In conclusion, if we take into account that Greek Cypriots will never approve of such projects as two states, confederation and other forms of partition, there is nothing left for reunification but a bizonal, bicommunal, federal solution model based on political equality. There is no other option, even if we want one.

Above all, the only solution model that the whole world agrees on is federation.

So why are we talking about the other options, why are we wasting our breath?

However, the option I hate the most is the ‘continuation of the status quo’.

All the other options lead either to unification or separation. But this one has an uncertain end…

For the past 50 years, we have been living this option… But now it needs to come to an end; one way, or another.

Source: THE OPTION WE HAVE BEEN LIVING IN FOR THE PAST FIFTY YEARS…

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ULAŞ BARIŞ | KIBRIS POSTASI
I was born in Istanbul on the 1 May 1973. I have worked in many organisations and in many different positions, such as a columnist, programme developer, editor, reporter, news director, proofreader. I believe that the non-solution of the Cyprus problem is the root cause of all the problems we have at home and across the island. That is why, I am trying to do my part for its solution. I have been to many unsuccessful summits, but I believe sooner or later I will also attend a successful one. I have a degree in Political Sciences from EMU. Apart from that, I have been performing on stage for 30 years; I am an old but undaunted musician. Long Live Rock and Roll!

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