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The, New, Phase, of, the, Cyprus, Issue
The New Phase of the Cyprus Issue

The New Phase of the Cyprus Issue The New Phase of the Cyprus Issue
Nicolas Mottas
published November 30, 2008

After a period of inactivity, the Cyprus Issue comes again to the front. The recent meetings between the Greek Cypriot President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Talat create a new framework within which we can examine, once again, some parametres of the 34 years-old unsolved Issue.

While doing that, we must have in mind one fundamental thing: that the so-called "Annan Plan" is no longer active and cannot be regarded, in any case, as a solution plan. It was in April 2004 when the Greek Cypriots expressed their undoubted and strong will, with a 76% "No" vote in the referendum. That decision of the people of Cyprus was clear and must be always fully respected by all sides who are involved in the Issue. However, on that point, we must focus our attention to some specific vested facts which derive by the procedure that had been agreed and followed until the final rejection of the Annan Plan in 2004.

Firstly, the participation of the Republic of Cyprus in the negotiations for the Annan Plan contributed significantly to the successful and undisturbed Cyprus" affiliation with the European Union. If the then Greek Cypriot leadership under President Papadopoulos wasn"t participating in the U.N.-mandated negotiations procedure for the Kofi Annan Plan, it is possible that the Republic of Cyprus would face problems towards its European route. Therefore, we can say that the expectation for Cyprus E.U. membership was the moving wheel for the acceptance of the Annan Plan as the base of future negotiations, as it was agreed in New York in 2003.

Secondly, the negotiations for the Annan Plan featured the significance of the Republic of Cyprus, a globally-recognized state entity which consist the official representative of the island in international organizations. On the other hand, the Turkish Cypriots have their own administration but, as long as they want, they can benefit from the E.U. membership of the Republic of Cyprus. That because, practically, the European status has been suspended for the north part due to the unsolved Issue but theoretically, the Republic of Cyprus represents the whole island. Therefore Turkish Cypriots, being citizens of the Republic of Cyprus, must have the right to make use of the E.U. priviledges. That creates a de facto recognition of the Republic of Cyprus" state entity by both the Turkish Cypriot side and Ankara itself.

Thirdly, the participation in the Annan Plan negotiations necessitated the exploration and review of many aspects of the Cyprus Issue (legal, political, economic, social, military, administrative etc.) within the solution of a Bizonal bicommunal Federation. The Greek Cypriot side had the opportunity to review the negative and positive points that such a solution includes. The result was the rejection of the Annan Plan because of its political and legal weaknesses. But its base remained the frame within which future negotiations will take place - that is a model of a bizonal bicommunal Federation which must be fully compatible with EU legal and political standards.

Fourthly, it is clear that since 2004 the Cyprus Issue has passed to a new stage. That has to do with the agreement according to which the people of Cyprus (Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots) will have the final word in accepting or rejecting solution proposals. Therefore, the Issue has now become, more than ever, a matter of internal sovereignty, focusing on the will of the people of Cyprus to reach a fair settlement and reunify their island. Nonetheless, that does not mean that the Cyprus case is not an issue of international diplomatic importance and a problem created by the savage Turkish military invasion of 1974. On the contrary, these sensitive matters (Military Occupation, Missing Cypriots, Human Rights etc) must be fully respected by those who design solution proposals and settlement packets.

What is the conclusion? That the secret key which can open the door of a settlement to the issue is in the hands of the Cypriots. That became apparent with the failure of the sophisticated and complicated Annan Plan to convince the vast majority of Cyprus" people that it was a really fair compromise. Therefore, no matter what Athens, Ankara, London or Washington want, the reunification of Nicosia is in the hands of the Cypriots, both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. They will put the limits of a compromise and for that a strategic plan is needed, far from arid nationalisms that lead nowhere. And, as far as I am concerned, President Dimitris Christofias has the potential - with the continuous support of Athens and the E.U. - to create such a positive strategic framework and work along with his counterpart for Cyprus reunification, in favour of the island"s citizens. Its not easy at all, but its also not impossible.