Back to a ‘no-solution is a solution’ politics in Cyprus

Is it possible to expect any concrete results from the informal Cyprus meeting that is being held in Geneva this week?

The Turkish Cypriot side has begun to play a new political game on the island, backed by Turkey’s insistence that the Cyprus problem can no longer be solved on the basis of a United Nations bi-zonal, bi-communal model. It is returning to the maximalist thesis of the 1990’s.

Meanwhile, the decision of the Greek Cypriot-controlled Republic of Cyprus to sign natural gas and joint security agreements with Egypt, Greece and Israel and the opening of Paphos Airport for the use of French warplanes also constitute steps boosting political tension and making a solution less likely. 

Ignoring the presence of the Turkish Cypriots on the island, rendering the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus as the dominant political factor, failing to take any joint steps with Turkish Cypriots before a solution and rejecting a Turkish Cypriot proposal to establish a joint bi-communal natural gas committee are also detrimental to a possible solution.

Still, a tri-partite summit held in Berlin in November 2019, with the participation of the Turkish and Greek Cypriot leadership and U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, was a very important step forward. The decision to hold this week’s delayed 5+1 meeting was taken in Berlin.

After his victory in elections late last year, Turkish Cypriot President Ersin Tatar wants the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) to be recognised as legitimate by the Republic of Cyprus by insisting on sovereign equality. By saying publicly on numerous occasions that he would not negotiate a federation based on political inequality and would not continue the negotiations from where they left in Crans Montana in 2017, Tatar has made it clear that he will bring this incredible proposal to the table in the Geneva talks.

What Tatar will say in Geneva depends on Ankara, which “elected” him through a direct intervention in Turkish Cypriot politics.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s insistence that the Cyprus issue be revised on the basis of two independent states is nothing but an attempt by the Turkish government to integrate the problem into Turkey’s own domestic politics.

Turkey's state policy no longer aims to create a new positive path in its relations with Greece and the European Union through the settlement of the Cyprus problem.

The current crisis has become a necessary choice for the Turkish government as it deals with Turkey’s own internal power dynamics. This naturally creates the need for a climate of tension and trouble everywhere. A statement by former TRNC president Rauf Denktaş that "no solution is a solution" to the Cyprus issue has now become the motto of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The problem is that the island of Cyprus is an EU territory, the Turkish Cypriots are EU citizens while the EU acquis is suspended in the north. These facts mean that the no-solution situation on Cyprus cannot be sustained. Of course, there is also a strong will on the part of the Turkish Cypriot people for a solution.

After the 2004 referendum, Turkey’s foreign minister of the time, Abdullah Gül, stressed that the affirmative vote of Turkish Cypriots for a united Cyprus and the Greek Cypriot rejection meant that Turkey could no longer be accused of being an occupying, obstructive power. It had done its job. But the status of Turkey as an occupier has now been restored.

From its pro-solution axis, Turkey has shifted back toward the Denktaş era.

Asım Akansoy is a deputy for the main opposition Republican Turkish Party (CTP) of northern Cyprus.