GÖKSEL BOZKURTNICOSIA - Hürriyet Daily News
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Members of the government in Turkish Cyprus believe that negotiations between Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet Ali Talat and Greek Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias are at a standstill. Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister Derviş Eroğlu and Foreign Minister Hüseyin Özgürgün say the answer lies in a two-state solution
While Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet Ali Talat and his Greek counterpart Dimitris Christofias continue to talk about reunifying Cyprus, other members of the government on the northern side of the island have come to believe the negotiation process has reached a deadlock.
Two leading Turkish Cypriot politicians, Prime Minister Derviş Eroğlu and Foreign Minister Hüseyin Özgürgün, both recently said they believe the solution lies in the formation of two separate states.
The change in tack could be a sign of more trouble on the horizon for the ailing negotiations in regard to Turkey’s European Union aspirations. As long as Turkey keeps its ports closed to shipping from Greek Cyprus, on grounds that the EU should keep its word on easing the isolation of Turkish Cyprus, then EU-member Greek Cyprus can push the 27-nation bloc to decide at an upcoming December summit to punish Turkey for keeping its ports closed.
Talat continues as the Turkish Cypriot community’s representative in the talks for now, but he faces strong criticism for the lack of progress toward a solid agreement, both Eroğlu and Özgürgün told Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review in an interview last week.
The right-wing National Unity Party or the UBP, headed by Eroğlu, which favors closer links with Turkey rather than EU membership, won 44 percent of the vote in April's parliamentary elections. That has left the Republican Turkish Party, or CTP, leader Talat with only 29 percent.
Presidential elections will be held in Turkish Cyprus in April 2010 and Talat is expected to have a difficult time seeking re-election if a positive result is not achieved by the end of this year.
Eroğlu said the negations have not gone well and things have come to a breaking point over the issue of “property acquisition.” Eroğlu is expected to run against Talat in the upcoming elections.
He said he believed the negotiations continued only due to international pressure. “To this date, many deals have been signed but not one has been implemented.”
Eroğlu said those who accepted the Annan Plan regretted it today. The Annan Plan was a U.N.-brokered plan accepted by the Turkish side but rejected by the Greek side in simultaneous referenda conducted in April 2004. Eroğlu said he conducted a survey concluding that only 15 percent of the population supports a federation. “Talat should consider the opinion of the people in the negotiations, not just his own. Sticking to conjuncture brought us where we are today.”
Eroğlu said many countries, including Kosovo, were recognized by the international community as independent states, and that Russia had recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which broke away from Georgia in 2008.
“They say there cannot be two separate governments in Cyprus. But it has happened already, there have been two separate governments on the island since 1974,” he said. “Travel between the Greek and the Turkish sides has started, too. Two separate governments can exist side by side.”
Turkish Cypriot Foreign Minister Hüseyin Özgürgün also supported the view that a deadlock has been reached in negotiations and developments are pointing toward a two-state solution, and therefore recognition of Turkish Cyprus by the international community.
“Cyprus is not a problem,” Özgürgün said. “It is just being imposed upon Turkey as one.”
The minister said the contentious issue is the withdrawal of Turkish soldiers from the island. “However, if Turkey says Cyprus is strategically important, then a detailed treaty must be signed – one that also protects the rights of Turkey.”
Özgürgün said it is impossible to reach an accord through the current talks. He said Turkish Cyprus wanted the continuation of Turkey’s role as a guarantor of security. He said the Greek Cypriots believe there is no need for further guarantees because Greek Cyprus is now a European Union member.
Özgürgün said most Greek Cypriots believe they were being invaded and that 250,000 Greeks should return to their former homes when the treaty is signed. “However, this means that 250,000 Turks would be losing their homes,” he said.
“If all the Greeks returned to the Turkish regions, then we would probably have to climb the Pentadaktylos Mountains and live there. No adjustment that would disrupt the bi-communality should be accepted. As of now, the Turkish side controls 36 percent of the island. Only minor border adjustments should be made.”
The Turkish Cypriot foreign minister said the Greek side maintains that each individual has property rights and that it advises individuals to petition to the European Court of Human Rights. Özgürgün said this would lead not to a solution but only further conflict.
No change with Papandreou
Özgürgün said the newly elected Greek prime minister, George Papandreou, would not change anything in terms of the Cyprus issue. “There is a general policy of Greece and Greek Cyprus in terms of the ‘Megalo’ idea. Cyprus was considered a Hellenistic island when the plan was formed in the 18th century. It does not matter if Karamanlis is gone or Papandreou has come – that policy does not change.”
Özgürgün said a similar situation was experienced when Christofias took over from Tassos Papadopoulos. “What changed when the uncompromising Papadopoulos left and the more agreeable Christofias arrived? It does not matter which politician is in power,” he said.
“The general Greek policy [for Cyprus] does not change. Some of us naively believe that it will. I would like to believe that, too. I am not a foreign minister who enjoys disputes, but I have to see the reality.”
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