“The negotiating acquis inherited by Mr. Anastasiades from Demetris Christofias safeguarded the unity of the state with the necessary competences for its smooth operation, locking a single sovereignty, a single citizenship and a single international personality”
● How should we perceive the term “sovereign equality” which the Turkish side projects to contrast with political equality? Is it the same as the two-state solution?
SK – Sovereignty in international law constitutes one of the three inherent characteristics of a state. It is a characteristic inherent in the existence of an independent state, as states were gradually formed in the post-Westphalian era. This characteristic dictates the exclusive ability to exercise effective power and take binding decisions in a given territory and population by states. Sovereign equality emanates from state sovereignty and clarifies that states are legally equal and politically independent, and that interference in their internal affairs by third parties is prohibited. This is therefore one of the most fundamental principles of international law and it is clear that it refers to relations between sovereign states. This is also recorded in the Charter of the UN, in Article 2 (1).
Political equality, on the other hand, concerns the internal affairs of a state and the relationship that exists between different groups of the population. It concerns the right of all components of an indigenous population to participate equally, not necessarily based on numerical equality, but effectively, in the organs of power and decision-making of the state – which we wrongly consider to be a Cypriot peculiarity.
Unfortunately, the questioning and demonization of political equality by Mr. Anastasiades – despite the fact that the UN framework for its implementation in Cyprus dates back to (1990) and the issue of effective participation in key institutions and in decision-making was in effect resolved at Crans Montana- played a key role in the change of course we are confronted with today.
● How do you explain this?
SK – Whereas since 2003 the Turkish side was officially discussing a federal solution – that is to say, a single sovereign state, no matter how many attempts may have been made from time to time to inject confederal elements that were however dealt with in the negotiations – for the first time in almost 20 years, as regards the questioning of political equality it responds with sovereign equality, which, yes, in essence implies a two-state solution, that is unacceptable.
The intrusion and possible adoption of such novel terms will abolish the acquis regarding the single sovereignty, as recorded in the Christofias-Talat Joint Communiques, the Downer Document and the Anastasiades-Eroglou Joint Declaration. And with them, the prospect of a solution that reunites our country and people.
And that is precisely why Mr. Anastasiades must abandon any experimentations and convince everyone that he is ready to negotiate from where we had remained in 2017, without any footnotes and without any trace of questioning political equality.
● Loose federation, confederation and a two state solution. What are the differences and what should we avoid so that we don’t eventually end up with a “velvet” partition?
SK – The term loose federation has no scientific basis whatsoever and rightly when it is used is perceived as an attempt to disguise a form of settlement that diverts from federation, that is to say one state. With the science of constitutional law and political science as a reference point, federation can be either centralized or decentralized. Its characterization has to do with the competences vested in the central state.
The older basically federations that emerged from confederations (USA, Switzerland and others) are decentralized, as well as federations that were created to solve national problems (Belgium). Therefore, the decentralization of competences does not necessarily mean confederation and two states. However, what advocates the disintegration of a single state and the creation of separate entities is the decentralization of competences that are inherent in the basic features of the state, such as a single sovereignty, a single international personality and a single citizenship (the three singles). Indicatively, such competences have to do with the foreign policy of a state, the delimitation of maritime zones, including the Exclusive Economic Zone, natural resources, fiscal policy, security and defence policy.
The acquis recorded in the negotiations which Mr. Anastasiades had inherited from Demetris Christofias safeguarded the unity of the state with the necessary competences for its smooth operation, locking the three singles. Mr. Anastasiades having increased the number of competences by one third, is today going back on what he himself had agreed to. Without having explained to date where he wants to lead decentralization to, without having explained what competences can be transferred to the federated units, without being led to a confederation and indirectly or directly to two states.
In the current context, where what is truly at stake is the safeguarding of the federal solution and not the degree of its decentralization, Mr. Anastasiades is wrongly reopening such issues. Not only because he himself is undermining the position for a resumption of the negotiations from where they had remained 9at Crans Montana), but also because he offers the Turkish side the opportunity, in this way as well, to seek a distortion in the form of the solution. There can be no agreed partition. No Greek Cypriot leader’s shoulders are strong enough to consent to the official handing over of our homeland, to render the status of the refugees as permanent, to the loss of properties and creation of a land border with Turkey. However the de facto partition, with the same results, is knocking on our door.
● Turkey has attacked the Security Council publicly for its reference in the latest resolution for the renewal the mandate of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus to a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation, at a time when the international community (UN, Security Council members and EU member states) has clarified as never before that it remains committed to Bi-zonal, Bicommunal Federation. Can this attack be interpreted as a negotiating move? In that case, what should the Greek Cypriot side pay attention to?
SK – Turkey has accustomed us to protesting internationally and launching fierce attacks against organizations, officials and even heads of state and governments in order to make its position imposing on matters that are of special interest to it. And we’ve also seen Turkey lower the tones when this is what serves it subsequently. With Turkey’s position on two states and sovereign equality expressed publicly, we should have expected the Turkish reactions to the recent resolution. Whether Turkey will continue to insist on this unacceptable position can only be recorded at the negotiations to which the Greek Cypriot side must go without leaving once again room questioning its will to resume the procedure from where it had remained in 2017, without regressions and retractions – seeking in a convincing way to against open up the prospect of a solution based on the agreed framework and provided that the Turkish side will change its stance.
This is precisely the reason why AKEL promptly submitted a comprehensive proposal on the Cyprus problem to Mr. Anastasiades as to what our side must do in view of the upcoming informal meeting and for the resumption of the negotiations, without unfortunately any response from the President himself so far.
● In the last resolution there was a reference to Bizonal. Bicommunal Federation, but not to the resumption of talks on the basis of “the February Joint Declaration, the convergences and the Guterres Framework”. Can this also be interpreted as a door opening for the discussion of something other than Bizonal. Bicommunal Federation?
SK – Neither a door, nor a crack can be opened to change the basis of a solution without our explicit consent or tacit acceptance. Nor does the international community favor a “two-state solution” either. However what is noted – the removal of the reference to the resumption of talks with the Joint Declaration, the convergences and the Guterres Framework – is a negative development because this acquis represents a shield of the federal solution, while it has been proven that every time convergences are reopened, room is created for questioning and dangerous ideas intrude.
Whatever may be said on the domestic front, the stance of the members of the UN Security Council is another effect arising from the collapse of 2017 and the experimentations that took place in the meantime – as well as the recent assigning of responsibilities by Juncker on both leaders and not on Turkey, as well as the British Foreign Secretary’s unacceptable stand who avoided naming the basis of a solution.
Our clash with reality is now crucial for all those of course who want to get the message: so long as Mr. Anastasiades is pulling in different directions, so long as he is not convincing of his intentions, so long as negotiations do not resume, Turkey and Mr. Tatar will continue to deepen the partition more or less undisturbed.
Interview with Stavri Kalopsidiotou, member of the Cyprus Problem Office of AKEL, member of the Central Committee of AKEL, Lawyer-International Law expert
Sunday, 7th February 2021, “HARAVGI” newspaper
What is truly at stake is Federation and not its decentralization