We are watching once again the theater of the absurd, called “a sincere effort for the resumption of talks” for the solution of the Cyprus problem. After five consecutive years of complete inactivity, the Greek Cypriot side has remembered that the intercommunal dialogue must be resumed. A dialogue of the deaf, in essence, since miscommunication and megaphone diplomacy dominate the positions of the aspiring interlocutors. Nicos Anastasiades and his associates remembered the federal model, while the “stubborn” Ersin Tatar does not miss the opportunity to promote Turkey’s pursuit of two states. Nothing has changed.
Within the general confusion, the President of the Republic has had an epiphany. He sent a letter to the Turkish Cypriot leader, requesting the resumption of negotiations, setting as a starting point the discussion and implementation of Confidence-Building Measures. Spearheading the CBMs is the proposal for the return of Varosha to the United Nations (with ultimate recipients, the legal owners) and the simultaneous opening of the airport of Tymbou for international flights under UN supervision. It is a proposal that emerged in 2006, supported by the then Finnish presidency of the EU and was unequivocally rejected by the Turkish side, that wanted to operate the airport itself. Since then, the proposal has been pulled from the drawers several times, mainly to caress the people’s ears. The goal then, as now, was to show that the Greek Cypriot side was doing something, that it wanted a solution. Something like a “twist my rubber arm” situation since everyone knew, both then and now, that a rejection was just round the corner, waiting to confirm another meagre outcome.
If the Greek Cypriot side truly wanted to promote CBMs, if the President and his associates really wanted to cultivate the lost trust between the two communities, they would have thought outside the box. They would have promoted measures that would have an actual direct and positive impact on the daily lives of people in both communities.
Such measures exist, they are before our eyes, as long as one wants to see them. As long as the promotion of CBMs is not just for show, but truly aims at rapprochement between the people. For example, electricity on both sides of the green line is very expensive. In fact, an outdated power plant is operating in the occupied north. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. The two communities, if their leaderships really wanted to, could develop large photovoltaic units for power generation in the buffer zone and distribute electricity throughout the island. They could turn to renewable energy sources, taking full advantage of the almost constant sunshine that the country enjoys. In addition to the joint benefit of green energy, the Greek Cypriots could discreetly allow European investment to improve the power plant in the north, while Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots could, in principle, put a discreet (unannounced) moratorium on development of the fenced-off town of Famagusta.
Another CBM that could certainly be discussed, if there was political will, is consultations on hydrocarbon issues. The Greek Cypriot side could finally open that escrow account in which the Turkish Cypriot share from the future exploitation of natural gas in the Cypriot EEZ would go. It has been saying for years that it will open it, but the measure remains on paper. It could also invite Turkish Cypriots to a forum to determine how to use any hydrocarbon revenue. The Turkish and Turkish Cypriot sides could cease the exploratory drillings they are improperly and illegally conducting in the Cypriot EEZ.
The Cyprus problem is five decades long. Nothing is easy anymore, since there are the “realities” on the ground that Rauf Denktash wanted so much to establish. To change the climate, what is needed are initiatives beneficial for both communities that truly restore trust and not CBMs, which have been “circulating” for years, soaked in political intrigue and intransigence.
Source: TWIST MY RUBBER ARM…