Visible dangers from a possible failure of the five-party meeting
Denial of political equality vanishes the prospect of resuming negotiations
Interview with Stefanos Stefanou, member of the Political Bureau of AKEL
28th February 2021, ‘HARAVGI’ newspaper
What was it that awakened the Greek Cypriot side do you think to propose right now (via the DISY President) and publicly that political equality is the key to preventing partition and reaching a solution?
SS: We do not know whether the Greek Cypriot side has been awakened to the issue of political equality. We have not heard from the President of the Republic whether he accepts political equality or not and, more specifically, if he accepts the convergence for effective participation in the federal government. What remains, and I have the impression that it has not changed, is that the President does not accept the one positive vote of the Turkish Cypriots in the Council of Ministers. He thus gives pretexts to Turkey and Tatar to say that where political equality does not exist, there is sovereign equality.
It is quite clear that the denial of political equality as it is described by the UN Security Council, vanishes the prospect of the resumption of negotiations and, even more so, of the solution of the Cyprus problem itself. DISY President A.Neophytous’ call for the Greek Cypriot side to accept political equality must be addressed primarily to N. Anastasiades. If the President of the Republic really wants the continuation of the negotiations, as the Secretary General of the UN requests, then he must safeguard what was agreed and not continue to open the issue of political equality.
On the other hand, does its implementation to “very limited powers” that the central federal government will have (decentralized federation) not annul the “effective participation of the Turkish Cypriots in governance”, which political equality is aiming at?
SS: The debate on “decentralized federation” which the President belatedly remembered to bring back involves numerous dangers. First of all, it is an erroneous tactic. At a time when the Turkish side is looking for reasons and ways to raise in an official way its position for a two-state solution, the President’s intention to discuss “decentralized federation” will provide pretexts.
On the other hand, the opening of such an issue by the Greek Cypriot side clashes with its position that the negotiations should resume from the point where they had remained at Crans Montana, preserving the convergences achieved. The competences of the central government have in essence been agreed upon and are part of the convergences achieved. It is contradictory on the one hand to support the position for the continuation of the negotiations from the point where they were interrupted and on the other hand for the Greek Cypriot side to be calling for the opening of specific convergences.
The five-party conference has been demonized by certain political forces, especially after the reports about British plans that “equate” the difference between the two parties with regards the form of the solution by seeking a middle solution. Would the answer perhaps be for the next conference to be multilateral?
SS: What we want is one thing and what we have in front of us is another. And what we have in front of us is the informal 5 + 1 meeting. This was convened by the Secretary General of the UN and we are called to respond to it. Bearing this in mind, we need to assess what we need to do to confront the dangers that really do exist. The danger is not the abolition of the Republic of Cyprus with the informal meeting. If that were the case, the Republic of Cyprus would be lost from the Geneva and Crans Montana conference in 2017.
The greatest existing danger is that there will be a deviation from the agreed basis for the solution, namely the solution of bi-communal, bi-zonal federation with political equality as defined by the United Nations. To confront this danger, it is imperative that we remain unwavering and consistent to the agreed basis of the solution. We shouldn’t accept any talk whatsoever of a change in the basis of the solution. The continuation of the negotiations from the point where they were interrupted at Crans Montana and on the basis of the Guterres Framework is an additional guarantee for repelling any attempts seeking dangerous deviations in the negotiations.
If this effort will be the last on the Cyprus problem – as everyone estimates – what must we pay attention to in view of the five-party meeting and Turkey’s changing attitude?
SS: Developments themselves will show whether or not it is the last chance for the Cyprus problem. What is certain is that time is running out. Nearly fifty years have gone by since 1974 and the failures in the initiatives to reach a solution have left their negative imprints.
At the same time, it is obvious that the international community is tired of dealing with the Cyprus problem. This is reflected in the content of the UN Security Council resolutions on the Cyprus problem in recent years. A typical example is the wording that the Security Council gives to the status quo. In previous years, the UNSC characterized it as “unacceptable”. It has been describing it as “unsustainable” for three years now. This change in wording states that unless a solution is found that will liberate and reunite Cyprus, a solution will be sought for the management of the partition.
Those forces and circles who do not understand that we are on the very brink of the final partition of Cyprus, means they have no contact with reality. Therefore, we cannot wait until a better conditions and juncture is found, as certain forces and circles suggest. We must do everything in our power to resume negotiations from the point where they were suspended at Crans Montana, discussing on the basis of the Guterres Framework and safeguarding the convergences that have been agreed so far.

Leave a Reply