TWO STATES WITHIN THE EUROPEAN UNION

27/11/2016



Who really wants the present process to produce a solution, who is lying and who pretends not to want such an outcome while secretly wishing for it? It is a complex situation to say the least. 
Unlike what many people have recently been claiming the International Crisis Group (ICG) is in my opinion one of the strongest policy shaping tools of the Western world. The ICG is a thinktank which has until now supported a federation in Cyprus and has published reports insistently calling on the sides for a solution. The ICG has warned both Turkish and Greek Cypriots that there would be a heavy price to pay if the problem is not fixed in the six reports it has published between 2006 and 2011. The ICG has published its seventh Cyprus report last week. The report penned by my friend and colleague Hugh Pope surprisingly defended the “two state” or the “union of two states within the European Union” solution, a position Pope has previously accused me of being a “hardliner” for holding. Why this change? Has Pope suffered a blow to the head? Why has Pope started to think a federal solution unlikely and advised Cypriots to debate other formulae while I have been calling for a “solution”? I think Joost Lagendijk, former EP Turkey Observer has summarised the situation well in a recent article: “One does not need to be an incorrigible sceptic or a stubborn nationalist to think that perhaps it is time to consider an alternative solution given the low chance of success after so many disappointments in reaching a settlement.” One should first set the perspective right. The Cyprus problem is a vital issue for Turkish Cypriots which cannot be compartmentalised through left-right divisions or the use of other jargon. It is necessary to set aside slogans and set phrases when dealing with a life-or-death problem and to approach the matter realistically. The ICG report essentially calls on both Turkish and Greek Cypriots to do likewise and invites them to ponder all options while reminding them of the hefty cost of the lack of a solution. The report gives the following advice: 1- “All sides need to face the reality that the problem is not so much today’s divided status quo, but its non-negotiated status. A settlement that takes this into account is the only way to provide both communities with a solid legal, political and economic framework on which to build their futures.” According to the report the status quo has emerged through war and without an agreement and the solution should be shaped in accordance with how the status quo has come to be. 2- “Any deal must be consensual and backed by voluntary Greek Cypriot agreement. To win Greek Cypriot consent to an independent Turkish Cypriot state, both Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots would have to agree to pull back all or almost all of Turkey’s troops, give up the international guarantees that accompanied the island’s independence in 1960, compensate Greek Cypriots for the two thirds of private property in the north owned by them, be generous in handing back occupied territory and agree that the Greek Cypriots inherit their part of the coast, new natural gas deposits and all.”Is there any need to explain further? The approach in this recommendation combines acceptable points with completely unacceptable ones. Is it possible for Turkish Cypriots to accept the complete withdrawal of Turkish troops, barring perhaps a symbolic presence, and the end to the system of guarantees? Will an EU guarantee or the recently proposed NATO guarantee be sufficient to cover the security needs of Turkish Cypriots? Even worse, can the return of Greek Cypriots to TRNC land, even in limited numbers be accepted after a third of present territory has already been ceded? How will the preferred method of global bartering for reparations be financed and is it acceptable to leave all gas and other energy resources to Greek Cypriots?3- “Greek Cypriots would have to support an independent Turkish Cypriot state becoming a full part of the EU. That is currently taboo but could be a way to answer their deep wish to reunite the island in everything that matters, including currency, basic norms and regulations, EU laws and visa regime.” It is clear that there are no points here which are objectionable for the Turkish Cypriot party.However the issues listed under the second article need to be examined carefully. Can we accept the conditions outlined there? I do not think so. Can a two state solution be achieved at a lower cost? It is equally unlikely. However, if as Hugh Pope has suggested, the matter of two states within the European Union features in the debate, issues over which the Greek Cypriot side also stands to lose will come to be talked about and a less costly thesis for a federation could form the grounds for the talks, making a solution truly attainable. This ICG report should be given due attention. It is a report which will form the basis of far more detailed debate in the coming period. Some people claim that the ICG is a phoney organisation and that its opinion has no effect. Well, what is the ICG? It is such a phoney organisation that it is jointly headed by Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering, former undersecretary at US State Department and UNDP President Mark Malloch-Brown former UN vice secretary-general. Its CEO is Louise Arbour former UN high commissioner for human rights and chief prosecutor of the International Court of Justice in the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda cases. The board of directors includes many other notables. It includes the Nigerian lawyer Ayo Obe, former general-secretary of the South African ANC Cheryl Carolus, former general-secretary of the WTO Maria Livanos Cattaui, Professor Ghassan Salamé of the famous Paris School of Political Relations, George Soros, former Finnish foreign minister Pär Stenbäck, former UN secretary general Kofi Annan (of Annan Plan fame), editor of the Yedioth Ahronoth Nahum Barnea, former NATO chief Wesley Clark. More? A former prime minister of the Netherlands and a Pakistani minister? Even more? Its honorary presidents are former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari, George J. Mitchell the famous former majority leader of the US Senate and former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans. Have I made it clear what the ICG is? Can we consider the two state solution to be on the table? Not just yet, but is is coming soon. YUSUF KANLI 
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