THE GREEK CYPRIOTS NEVER CHANGE

27/11/2016



The Greek Cypriot Parliament has taken a very controversial decision. In this decision, Southern Cyprus says: “In the united Republic of Cyprus, which is an EU member state, guarantees and guarantorship is unthinkable”. Is it really so? Of course there is a clever diplomatic wording manoeuvre here. The place where according to the Greek Cypriots “guarantees and guarantorship are unthinkable is not the “Republic of Cyprus” but the “united Republic of Cyprus”. What they want to say is “if in the future a united Cyprus comes into being on the island, if the north and the south somehow merge, then as the grounds will be the EU, rules will be set in accordance with the EU acquis communautaire and then guarantorship will not be valid”.
That much is obvious anyway. But why did Southern Cyprus feel itself compelled to state the obvious at the most critical juncture in the negotiations? There is only one reason for this. Southern Cyprus has chosen this path to attract the minimum possible reaction in the world stage and the international community to its hidden agenda. Should anyone demand an answer it will say “we only made a statement on the general principles of the structure which will come into being after the solution”.
However… If it is pushed too hard at the negotiating table, it will insist that “the principles which the new structure will have after the solution should be implemented today” and will sabotage the success of the negotiations. Throughout history, Turks have said “yes” and Greek Cypriots have said “no” in the Cyprus issue. It is the same today. As the Republic of Cyprus collapsed in 1963, conflict between the two societies intensified with Greek Cypriot attacks on Cypriot Turks.
Thousands of Turks had to abandon their residences in this period and emigrate to safer locations. The first inter-societal negotiations began after the agreement arrived at following the Gecitkale attacks in 1968 and were held first in Beirut, then continued in Nicosia. The talks ended on the 20th of September 1971 as the Greek Cypriots did not want to lose the advantage they held. Through the efforts of the UN, the sides met with representatives of Greece, Turkey and the UN in 1972. Turkey suggested a federation. Greek Cypriots left the bargaining table. 1974 EOKA-B tried to oust Makarios. On the 15th of July 1974 the Greek Cypriot National Guard under the command of Greek officers and EOKA-B carried out a coup.
Makarios first sought refuge in British bases on the island and then managed to flee to Britain through Malta. EOKA member Nikos Sampson, supported by the junta in Greece was declared president. Turkey, having carried out resultless initiatives for a joint intervention decided to intervene unilaterally. On the 20th of July the “Peace Operation” began. Following three days of the operation, Turkey agreed to a ceasefire. Following the ceasefire, intense diplomatic initiatives were launched by the USA in order to prevent further fighting and to solve the issue.
The conference which began in Genève on the 25th of July ended on the 30th of July. The sides, which met an agreement on very few issues at the First Genève Conference attended by the foreign ministers of Turkey, Greece and Britain, published a joint declaration at the end. In the declaration it was announced that the terms of the ceasefire would be abided by and that Greek Cypriot and Greek forces would withdraw from occupied Turkish areas. The presence of two autonomous administrations on the island was accepted. However, the Greek Cypriot National Guard did not abide by the ceasefire and did not withdraw from the areas it had occupied. Under these circumstances, the Second Genève Negotiations began on the 8th of August. Other than the three foreign ministers, representatives of the Turkish and Greek Cypriot peoples on the island, Rauf Denktas and Glafkos Clerides were also present.
Denktas demand a bipartite federation with 34 per cent of the land being given to the Cypriot Turks. Turkey offered the formation of Turkish cantons in six regions. Both suggestions were turned down by the Greek Cypriots and Greece. Clerides demanded a recess of 36 hours in order to consult with Nicosia on certain issues. The Second Genève Confidence ended unsuccessfully on the 13th of August. Turkey, which thought that the Greek Cypriot side which was not willing to settle was buying time in order to consolidate militarily began the second Peace Operation on the 14th of August. Following Turkish troops securing the area which today constitutes the TRNC after three days, ceasefire was declared on the 16th of August.
 
DENKTAS-CLERIDES PROCESS ONCE AGAIN
 
Following the Second Peace Operation, Un General-Secretary Kurt Waldheim, who arrived on the island on the 25th of August held talks with both sides and it was decided on the 26th of August that Denktas and Clerides would meet once a week in Nicosia to discuss humanitarian issues. As a result of these meetings which were held in the presence of the Special Envoy of the UN, all prisoners of war were released by the end of October. Following the return of Makarios to the island in December, the meetings were suspended for a while. Makarios who returned to the island on the 7th of December 1974 took over the office from Glafkos Clerides. Clerides, whose 5 months as president thus came to an end would have to wait 19 years (until 1993) in order to once again take up the title of “leader of the Greek Cypriot administration”.
 
POPULATION EXCHANGE
 
On the 13th of February 1975, Turkish Cypriots declared the Cypriot Turkish Federal State (CTFS). General and local elections were held in 1976 and 1981 and Rauf Denktas served as the president of the CTFS until the founding of the TRNC in 1983. The Greek Cypriot side which protested the declaration of the CTFS boycotted the talks for a while. Inter-societal talks which had begun in Vienna in April 1975 under the UN Secretary General were interrupted once more in February 1976 after the end of the fifth round.
DENKTAS-MAKARIOS PROCESS
Denktas who wrote a letter to Makarios approximately one year after the breakdown of negotiations, on the 9th of January 1977, called on him to discuss all problems in tete a tete talks. The first meeting between Makarios and Denktas took place in Nicosia on the 27th of January. The Secretary General of the UN Kurt Waldheim was also present. A principle agreement of four articles was signed during the second meeting and it was decided that the talks should continue in Vienna in March with the presence of the Secretary General. Both parties came to an agreement on the founding of an “independent and unconnected federal republic”. However, the sixth round of talks which began in Vienna on the 31st of March 1977 ended without success on the 7th of April 1977. In the sixth round of talks the Turkish side was represented by Ümit Süleyman Onan, while the Greek Cypriot side was represented by Tassos Papadopoulos.
DENKTAS-KIPRIANU AND 1977–79 SUMMIT AGREEMENTS
The death of Makarios on the 3rd of August 1977 was another opportunity for a pause to the talks. Spyros Kyprianou, who at the time was the Speaker of the Assembly of Greek Cypriot Representatives replaced Makarios as leader of the Greek Cypriot Administration and stayed in power until 1988. Inter-societal talks began once more in May 1977. Denktas and Kyprianou who came together on the 18th and 19th of May 1979 signed an agreement consisting of ten articles. This agreement was a more developed version of the principles arrived at by Denktas-Makarios in 1977. The “1977-79 Summit Agreements”, as they are known in the literature, failed to achieve any concrete advances. The interrupted talks began once more in 1980 and continued with pauses up until 1983 when the Greek Cypriots appealed to the UN General Assembly. As the sides could not come to agreement over certain concepts such as two partitions and two regions, they could not settle on representation, the authority of the federal state, settlement, acquisition of property and free movement.
THE DECLARATION OF THE TRNC AND THE CUELLAR DOCUMENT
Upon these developments, the Cypriot Turks declared the TRNC on the 15th of November 1983. As a result of the efforts of the Secretary General of the UN Perez de Cuellar, “indirect talks” began in New York on the 10th of September 1984. Following ten days of indirect negotiations, it was decided that the second round should be held as “direct negotiations”. The second round was held between the 15th and 26th of September 1984. In the third round, which began on the 26th of November, the General Secretary who had come to the opinion that both sides had negotiated sufficiently, presented the sides with a document after receiving final offers from both parties. Although Denktas agreed to sign the document brought to the table by the general Secretary of the UN based on the views of both parties, Kyprianou avoided putting his signature down. At a moment when the international community thought that a solution had finally been arrived at, Kyprianou’s rejection meant a return to starting point in years of negotiating.
DENKTAŞ-VASILIU AND THE GHALI SERIES OF IDEAS
The winner of the 1988 presidential elections in Southern Cyprus was a George Vasiliu. Between 1988 and 1989 a total of 100 hours of tete a tete negotiations were held between the new president of the Greek Cypriot Administration Vasiliu and President of TRNC Denktas. Following these meetings the two leaders met again in New York in 1990. However, when Vasiliu did not accept the points insisted on by Denktas, that of the separate identity and right to self-determination of the Cypriot Turkish people, these talks ended without success like the others. In June 1992, the newly appointed Secretary General of the UN Butros Ghali brought Denktas and Vasiliu together in New York. In the first round of talks the Secretary General presented the Turkish side with a map, leaving 28.2 per cent of the territory of the island to the Turkish side. Denktas, who refused this map which included the handover of the Morphou region to Greek Cypriots, stated that the least proportion of territory he could agree to would be 29 per cent. In the second round which began on the 15th of July, Butros Ghali presented the sides with his solution plan known as the “Series of Ideas”. The third round of talks which began on the 26th of October 1992 lasted two weeks. At the end of these talks it was announced that the sides were in deep disagreement and that therefore attempts at reconciliation of views had been abandoned.
CLERIDES’ RETURN
Clerides won the presidential elections held in Southern Cyprus in 1993. Denktas and Clerides faced each other in inter-societal talks for the first time in 18 years. Following Clerides’ election the two leaders first met on the 10th of March in Nicosia. The talks carried out between the duo in Nicosia and New York in 1993-1994 and in Nicosia and Switzerland in 1997 yielded no results.
INDIRECT NEGOTIATIONS
The indirect negotiations which began in New York in 1999 upon the call of the General Secretary of the UN Kofi Annan continued in Genève. The UN requested that the four main components of a solution, namely government, constitution, land and security be taken up first. The Turkish side which stated that the subjects were not limited to these gave emphasis to confederate model, embargoes on the TRNC and equal status. The Greek Cypriot delegation which suggested that the Turkish side should get 24 per cent of territory brought to the fore the federational model and the withdrawal of Turkish troops from the island. At the first round the UN only heard the arguments of the sides. However, it began to become increasingly clear that there was also an EU dimension to the issue due to the Greek Cypriot side’s membership process. At the New York talks, both the Turkish and the Greek Cypriot side focused on the outcome of the Helsinki Summit on the 11th of December 1999.
 
In the second round, held in Genève in 2000, the Greek Cypriot side offered the formation of four cantons in the Morphou, Lefke, Karpos and Luricina regions. Denktas announced that the land and map issues would not be debated before a solution to the problem of sovereignty. In 2000, Kofi Annan presented the sides with an unofficial document at the 5th round being held in Genève. While a single and indivisible state was aimed at in this document, it was stated that this state would have a single international identity and citizenship. The document further demanded that both societies should engage in the central administration equally and stated that political equality did not mean numerical equality.
 
The document also defended that international law should apply to the issue of property rights, that a significant portion of land be turned over to Greek Cypriots and that Greek Cypriot immigrants should be allowed to return to their residences in the north. This decision which pleased the Greek Cypriot side met with tough resistance from the Turkish side. Denktas, who stated that the Genève process had ended as far as they were concerned announced, following a summit held in Ankara on the 24th of November that unless “Turkish parameters” were accepted, they would not continue with indirect talks. Thus the process of indirect talks which lasted for almost a year came to an end.
 
DENKTAS’ LETTER DIPLOMACY
To ensure the sides came to the table again, many initiatives were made by UN as well as American, British and EU representatives on the Ankara-Athens-Nicosia line. At a time in which criticism for being the uncompromising side was rising against him, Denktas took a surprise action and made a similar invitation to the one he had made to Makarios back in 197 and this time invited Clerides to talk face to face. Following Clerides’ positive response, attention turned to the meeting in Nicosia of the two leaders who had carried out the first inter-societal talks 34 years ago.
 
A SURPRISE DINNER, OPTIMISM AND THE MARATHON OF DIRECT TALKS
 
The leaders who met in 2001 decided to embark upon direct talks on the 16th of January. However, the meeting involved a development anticipated by none. Upon an invitation by Denktas, Clerides crossed into Northern Cyprus after 26 years in his private automobile and had dinner at the Presidential Palace. Later Denktas repaid his visit by crossing over to Southern Cyprus. These historic visits which took place on the island resulted in an optimistic atmosphere being formed, that Denktas and Clerides would this time conclude the inter-societal talks they had begun 34 years ago. The aim in these negotiations, intensely supported by the international community, was a settlement before the Copenhagen summit in December 2002, during which the Greek Cypriots would be invited to the EU. However as the talks, which had begun on the 16th of January progressed, the optimism dispersed. Denktas and Clerides who met a total of 54 times until the end of September failed to achieve concrete progress.
THE ANNAN PLAN
As no progress had been made towards the end of the year target for an agreement, which had been set following the failure to reach the June target, the UN began to make its presence felt. The Secretary General Kofi Annan who visited the island in May invited the leaders whom he later met in September in Paris to New York in October. It had become clear that the UN was preparing to put a solution plan on the table. Clerides summarised the crucial stage arrived at with the following statement given right before his departure for New York: “We are passing through the most critical time since 1974. The coming months will witness the toughest diplomatic battles in 28 years. The future of Cyprus will be decided by these diplomatic battles.” Another unexpected development occurred after the talks held in New York on the 3rd and 4th of October. President Denktas underwent heart surgery in New York upon a sudden decision.
However, as the Copenhagen Summit to be held on the 12th of December approached, the UN presented the sides with the plan despite Denktas’ health problems. The Turkish sides’ response to the plan came late due both to Denktas’ illness and the formation of a new government in Ankara. The Greek Cypriot side which accepted the plan as grounds for negotiation stated that they would not accept it in its present shape. The UN which evaluated the details given by the sides regarding the plan presented the sides with a revised plan including minor changes on the 10th of January, 2 days before the Copenhagen Summit. Denktas’ opinion was that the “plan is not that new”.
THE COPENHAGEN SUMMIT
Dashed hopes for a solution on the island were placed on the Copenhagen Summit which began on the 12th of December. While Clerides went to the summit which was of historical importance for the Greek Cypriot side as they would be invited to the EU, Northern Cyprus was represented by foreign minister Tahsin Ertugruloglu. The efforts of De Soto as well as American and British diplomats which were continued until the last minute did not bear fruit. In the final declaration of the summit, Cyprus was among the ten countries officially invited to the EU. The declaration stated that while negotiations would continue until the 28th of February, should a solution not be reached between the sides, the EU acquis would come into effect in the south alone. In the summit decisions which ignored the demand to postpone Greek Cypriot membership, it was further stated that the sides would make an effort to finalise negotiations by the 28th of February. Hopes for a solution on Cyprus were postponed once more.
 
CLERIDES: VICTIM OF THE ANNAN PLAN
The next date focused on following the 12th of December Helsinki Summit was the 28th of February 2003. Annan sent Denktas and Clerides a letter which served as a roadmap of the procedure to be followed until the 28th of February. Denktas and Clerides met eight times. However, the technical committees which had to be formed and started on work in short time were never realised. In the meanwhile the campaigning for the presidential elections to be held on Cyprus on the 16th of February slowed down the negotiations. Clerides’ rival Papadopoulos argued that the Annan plan should not be accepted in its present form and accused Clerides of being too flexible. Following the meeting held on the 5th of February, the Greek Cypriot side announced that should a settlement not be reached by the 28th of February, it would sign the Annan Plan as it stood. Denktas claimed that Clerides was bluffing so as to put him in a corner.
 
Denktas and Clerides met for the final time before the elections on the 14th of February 2202. This 71st meeting counting from the 16th of January 2002 when the first of the face to face talks was held, was the final meeting of Denktas with Clerides in the latter’s capacity as the leader of the Greek Cypriot Administration. After this, down the table Denktas would face Tassos Papadopoulos, who won the elections on the 16th of February in the first round through his criticism of the Annan Plan. In other words, the 83 year old Clerides, who had carried the Greek Cypriot Administration into the EU was the first victim of the Annan Plan. ANNAN IN CYPRUS Despite progress which was supposed to have been made in Cyprus until the 28th of February not having taken place, the efforts to secure a solution before the 16th of April on which the Greek Cypriot side would sign the accession treaty with the EU continued.
As the pressure on the sides increased, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan visited the island and made a last ditch effort to reconcile the sides. Annan, who went to Cyprus on the 26th of February, presented the sides with the third version of the plan which came to be named after him. Annan who met Denktas and Papadopoulos separately gave them ten days to respond and invited them to come to The Hague in the Netherlands on the 10th of March. As Annan presented the sides with the new plan, he asked them to promise to take it to referendum whether an agreement was settled or not. Annan who departed from the island without having delivered good news “whether it was agreed upon or not” said “it is the end of the road”.
 
ENDLESS SUMMIT AT THE HAGUE
 
The next deadline after the 28th of February became the 10th of March. The talks between Annan, Denktas and Papadopoulos which began on the 10th of March lasted until the morning of 11th of March. While Annan brought the two leaders together from time to time, crisscross diplomacy was held between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot delegations in different rooms. However the diplomatic pressure did not yield results and there was no outcome of The Hague Summit. After the failure at The Hague, the Greek Cypriot side signed the accession agreement with the EU at a ceremony held in Athens, capital of then term president Greece, on the 16th of April 2003 along with 9 other candidate countries. On the 14th of April, a report was issued, approved by the Un Security Council, blaming the Turkish side for the failure of the solution efforts. On the 23rd of November, Papadopoulos confessed “Even if Denktas had signed the Annan plan at The Hague, I would not have”.
TRNC ELECTONS AND THE NEW YORK SUMMIT
 
After the summit at The Hague, the Cyprus issue dropped off the agenda for a while. As the Greek Cypriots began to await the 1st of May 2004 when they would officially become members of the EU, the preparation for elections to be held on the 14th of December began in the TRNC. A very interesting outcome was the result of the elections which had been branded the “election of fate” from months before and which bore witness to a hard fought contest. The two leftwing parties who defended a solution based on the Annan Plan and the two right wing parties who opposed such a solution split the seats of the parliament of 50 seats with 25 for each group. After days of talks, the Republican Turkish Party from the leftist bloc and the Democratic Party from the rightist bloc set up a coalition government with Mehmet Ali Talat as Prime Minister.
After the elections in the TRNC, Ankara began a diplomatic initiative and demanded from both Washington and the UN Generally Secretary, personally through Prime Minister Erdogan, that talks should begin on Cyprus with the intention of a solution being reached before the 1st of May. Annan who made contact with the Greek Cypriot Administration and Athens sent Denktas and Papadopoulos an invitation letter on the 4th of February with the backing of the USA and declared that they were invited to New York on the 10th of February should they accept the conditions set out in the letter. Neither Denktas nor Papadopoulos liked the letter which contained a detailed calendar and a date for referendum. However, with pressure being brought on by the USA and the EU as well as by Ankara and Athens, they travelled to New York for a day of talks.
 
While Denktas attended the meeting with Prime Minister Talat, with whom he differed over the Cyprus issue, Papadopoulos brought along former leader Clerides. However, as a result of the Greek Cypriot side trying to bring in the EU to the process in response to the proposal by the Cypriot Turkish side that Turkey and Greece should enter the negotiations at some point, the talks came to a standstill. The summit which had been planned to last one day lasted for four days. At the end of the third day, after 11 hours of negotiating, Annan proposed a two page long document to the sides and demanded a yes or no answer. The said document contained the condition that Denktas and Papadopoulos should negotiate until the 22nd of March and should a settlement not be achieved by this date, Turkey and Greece should be involved in the process until the 29th of March. In April 2004 simultaneous referenda were held in the north and south of the island. While the plan voted on at the referendum got 65 per cent yes vote in the north, it was rejected by 76 per cent in the south and could not be implemented.
However, Southern Cyprus entered the EU as though nothing had happened. After the fiasco which ended the Annan Plan, Talat became the president of the TRNC in 2005. Though promising a solution and of a reconciliatory character, Talat achieved no more success in negotiations with Papadopoulos than Denktas had. Not a single step was taken towards peace and a solution until Papadopoulos lost the elections in 2008 and was replaced by Hristofyas. Following efforts at a restart to negotiations by Northern Cyprus and numerous invitations extended by President Talat to Greek Cypriot President Papadopoulos, the two leaders finally met after 14 months. Papadopoulos turned down every offer by Talat.
 
TALAT-HRISTOFYAS PROCESS
The leaders who had formerly sat around tables in negotiations for a solution the Cyprus issue were people described as “hawks”. The Turkish side had been represented before Talat by Denktas, who is the founder of Northern Cyprus. It could not have been expected of Denktas to leave the state he had set up after a long struggle at the negotiating table before getting full guarantee for the necessary rights. Similarly, leaders such as Makarios, Kyprianou, Clerides, Vassiliu and Papadopoulos were hawks. They never compromised their ideal of Hellenising Cyprus and making it a Greek Cypriot island. As a natural result of this there was no settlement on the island. To expect a settlement out of a conflict of hawks is not possible. In the end the hawks of the north and of the south had understandable difficulty in trusting their counterparts won they had previously faced from the opposing ends of the field. So a new method was tried in Cyprus. Talat and Hristofyas, who previously called each other “comrade”, came to power on their respective side of the island. Of course, concepts such as nationalism had no place in Marxist literature.
 
The interest in and perspective of the EU shared by Talat and Hristofyas would make everything easier. The two comrades could communicate easier due to their similar worldview. On the 7th of April 2008 the two new leaders began preparations for a new attempt at a solution. Six working groups and seven technical committees were set up. However, Southern Cyprus did not implement the solution calendar. Greek Cypriots demanded a federal solution when facing the cameras but behind the doors they asked for concessions for a unitary system. Things did not go that way. Hristofyas could not upset Athens, the priests, the nationalists, his coalition partners and the Greek Cypriot National Council. The sides failed once more to reconcile.
 
Offers put on the table by the Turkish side were rejected instinctively in the South. Southern Cyprus slowed down the process through the advantages it gained by becoming an EU member and at every opportunity demanded to negotiate directly with Turkey. The Talat-Hristofyas process has not officially ended. However, the decision taken by the Greek Cypriot Parliament indicates that the Hristofyas period in Southern Cyprus will not be any different from its precedents.
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