The time has come to test Turkey

Article by Stavri Kalopsidiotou – member of the Cyprus Problem Office of AKEL and of the Central Committee of the Party

18 March 2024, KATHIMERINI newspaper

The insistence of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leader Tatar on a two state solution, with the mask of ‘sovereign equality’, constitutes today the biggest obstacle to the efforts for a resumption of a substantive dialogue and undermines the prospect of a comprehensive, just and workable solution to the Cyprus problem. Unquestionably, the persistent rejection of the agreed basis for a solution is the greatest challenge facing the UN Secretary General’s Personal Envoy on Cyprus.

Judgements however, even if they are commonly accepted, do not offer any real way whatsoever out of the dangerous reality on the ground. For in the face of the possibility of a new deadlock in the exploratory effort underway, we will be called upon to confront the consolidation of the partitionist fait accompli and the exhaustion of any realistic prospect for the liberation and reunification of Cyprus. Not because the “last chance” narrative is being adopted, but because time is increasingly distancing the prospect of a comprehensive solution with the characteristics we rightly attribute to it and assert.

The illegal changes taking place in our occupied territories, which will have a decisive influence on property, territory and the settler issue, are perhaps the most obvious confirmation of our concerns.

In the meantime, there is no other option for Mr. Christodoulides other than the creative choice of moves and taking initiatives that can effectively influence the so far intransigent attitude of the Turkish side, without crossing any “red lines”. As the only tool to confront unacceptable ideas that are being floated on how the distance between federation and the “equal international status” that the Turkish side is seeking as a “precondition” for the resumption of direct dialogue could be shared.

The President’s unwillingness to immediately formulate and project a comprehensive positive agenda, waiting for Turkey to make the first move, unfortunately does not respond convincingly to such approaches. Furthermore, it does not unleash those dynamics that can, under certain preconditions, put the Cyprus problem on a trajectory of opening up prospects for meaningful negotiations and for a positive outcome.

On the contrary, the correct reflexes, taking the initiative, realistic approaches and the consistent defence of the body of work recorded in the negotiation procedure, which continue to be reflected in his public statements, are the elements that can reshape the scene and push for the creation of the perspective we are seeking.

This is at least confirmed by the positive reception of AKEL’s proposals by a number of our interlocutors, both in Cyprus and internationally too. AKEL’s proposals move within the framework of a positive agenda that is not confined unambiguously to Euro-Turkish issues and directly address both the Turkish Cypriot community and Turkey, without crossing the Greek Cypriot side’s “red lines”.

AKEL reaffirms Bizonal, Bicommunal Federation with political equality, as outlined in the relevant UN resolutions, as the only option. Our proposal clearly and without hesitation adopts the Guterres Framework and all the convergences that have been recorded by the end of the 2017 Conference on Cyprus, including the convergences on the content of political equality and effective participation. It brings back harnessing the energy issue and invests in cultivating a climate of trust between the two communities.
Too often we have repeated that time is dangerously running out. The messages we receive unfortunately confirm this on a daily basis. And this is exactly what we highlighted in our discussion with the UN Secretary General’s envoy on Cyprus Ms María Angela Holguín Cuéllar, through examples and AKEL’s proposals that we explained, taking on our share of responsibility to push the procedure forward, with comprehensive ideas, to open up a perspective.

There is no time for unproductive debates. There is only one option before us, and the President of the Republic knows it, and that is to test the Turkish side in practice.

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