Andreas C Chrysafis
The Cyprus negotiations underway are purported to “resolve the Cyprus issue” this year and one wonders why the urgency? The consequence of making a wrong agreement has hardly been debated and citizens have also been kept in the dark. During the three-year-old euphoric negotiations, the Anastasiades government has succumbed to pressure to dissolve the Republic of Cyprus and replace it with a Bi-Zonal, Bi-Communal Federation (BBF).
Officials have already started the spin and leaked out innuendos calling the New Cyprus a “Federation”. It’s as if the deal is in “the bag”. If the government gets its way a BBF would be signed contrary to its election promises that the final decision on a BBF would be vested with the people in a referendum vote! Is this the reason why the “pro-BBF” movement suddenly feels smug and reassured that a BBF agreement would inevitably become law with or without a Referendum? The likelihood of abandoning the Referendum cannot be excluded.
One can be assured that the Anastasiades government has other plans up its sleeve. It will try to avoid risking the BBF question to a referendum and face a similar humiliating defeat as it did with the UN Annan Plan, rejected by 76% of the population. Yet, it continues to insist that partitioning the island into two component states is a good solution.
To avoid a backlash or leaks it has decided that the next secretive round of talks will be held between November 7 and 11 at the Swiss resort Mont Pelerine and far away from Cypriots in fear of spoiling those plans. Not surprisingly, the UNSG Ban Ki-moon himself would open the negotiations between the two leaders in Switzerland and the plot thickens.
There are opinions that the current charade of negotiations with the Turkish Cypriot leadership should have never started in the first place. What those talks have managed to achieve throughout the years, has been to transform the Turkish military occupation of 40% of the Republic of Cyprus to a fully-fledged bi-communal conflict. That was never the case!
However, meaningful peace negotiations are the only way forward to resolve issues or conflicts, and their effectiveness should never be underestimated but they must be conducted honourably. Cyprus in fact, needs a fair solution so it can leap ahead and citizens can start to feel secure without the Turkish troops breathing down their necks with military provocations.
An agreement however should not be on the basis of one of gain, but one of optimum gain! This means that under the negotiations one should not give up its own advantage for nothing but a cooperative attitude that will ensure what is gained is not at the expense of the other party, but with it – a win-win situation as they say! The Cyprus negotiations have never been conducted on a win-win basis but one of hard negotiations.
When a party pretends to negotiate, but secretly has no intention of compromising whereby it pretends to reason but has no intention to do so then those negotiation are in “bad faith” and will certainly fail.
Worse, when a combination of guile and bluffing or even blackmailing and assertiveness is applied in order to cede as little as possible and gain as much as possible without empathy for the other party, such an agreement if adopted would collapse and create irreconcilable problems in the future. The 1960 Zurich Agreement for Cyprus was a prime example of a badly negotiated agreement and a bad constitution that played havoc in both the Greek and Turkish communities!
Negotiations however cannot produce win-win results when negotiating with a bullying and aggressive nation. Firstly, they would never abandon what they have gained by military force and secondly, they will never be satisfied but will demand more in the future. Why should they stop if they are not internationally ostracized by a political backlash?
This is the case of Cyprus where a mediocre leadership has not been able to formulate a dynamic long-term defence and foreign policy to deal with Turkey’s military occupation. Instead, it has maintained a compromising policy so as not to offend its western “allies” – just like Greece has done for so many years and the results are obvious today!
Cyprus has fallen into a Turkish trap! It has started negotiations in good faith with the Turkish Cypriot leadership and by doing so it has exonerated Ankara’s complicity in the entire tragedy. In fact the T/C’s are Ankara’s scapegoats so it can legalize its military occupation of Cyprus and the BBF agreement would reward Turkey’s Rule of the Jungle.
Can Turkey truly be trusted to honour an agreement? Under the Erdogan regime with a leader that abuses every decent principle of human rights against his own people on the premise that they are the enemy to his dictatorial rule, can never and should never be trusted.
Under the codename “Operation Euphrates Shield” Erdogan has now invaded Iraq and Syria to capture territories it claims are Turkish and has also laid claims to Mosul and Aleppo. Under military provocations, Ankara continues to insist that some Greek islands in the Aegean Sea are part of Turkey. It also claims that parts of Evros as well as Thrace in Greece and Akamas water rights are Turkish territories. This is what Cyprus is dealing with: intransigent negotiations under the threat of Turkey’s guns!
No matter what happens at next month’s meetings in Switzerland with aims to partition and dissolve the Republic, the Anastasiades government seems anxious to sign his mythical win-win agreement. It would then be up-to the Erdogan regime to dictate if the agreement is to be ratified by the Turkish Cypriot leadership or not! The Greek Cypriot side on the other hand is held hostage at Turkey’s whim.
The distrustful charades of hard negotiations were always conducted in bad faith on the premise of: “take it or leave it” or, Ankara would declare the entire occupied area of Cyprus a Turkish protectorate – a blackmailing tactic indeed!
Unfortunately, the Republic of Cyprus has never seriously considered the consequences of a possible bad agreement. When a cat is put in unfamiliar surroundings the first thing she does is to search for an escape route for a quick exit; a good partnership agreement on the other hand, it always provides an “escape clause” in the event the partnership doesn’t work out.
If the BBF fails and the Republic of Cyprus had already been dissolved in the process, what would follow next? Is there a Plan B? Nobody talks of such a nightmare scenario because there are no answers or studies or even logistics to this question but the answer is quite simple: for the island of Cyprus, it would mean instability and political and social chaos for years to come with unforeseen consequences!
A serious dilemma indeed; especially when the government operates in dark corridors without transparency on the premise that Big Brother knows best! People like to believe that a fair agreement will be presented to them without Turkey’s warmongering meddling and without partitioning or the obliteration of the Republic of Cyprus.
Meanwhile citizens are none the wiser!
Andreas C Chrysafis
October 29, 2016