Only those who attended the July 6th dinner know, so far, what precisely were the positions of the participants and how close or distant they were to a “strategic agreement”; and assessments disagree. Mr. Eide argues that an agreement that included zero guarantees and intervention rights with the implementation of the solution and ultimately the reduction of turkish troops to 1960 Treaty of Alliance levels, was feasible, while President Anastasiades emphatically insists that this was not the case and that Turkey was not ready for a solution. This disagreement is reflected in public discussion in Cyprus. The social media in particular, but also newspaper columnists are indicating the degree of division, and some people believe that an opportunity was lost to solve the Cyprus problem on acceptable terms.
If what was reported by the five Greek Cypriot journalists from Switzerland and New York is accurate, the likeliest picture seems the following: Due to the Anastasiades-Akinci convergences, (some of them based on Christophias -Talat convergences), agreement on each of “the strategic issues” did not seem impossible. However some of these convergences seem to have been negated by Turkey’s demands on the form of the rotating presidency, the rights of Turkish nationals in Cyprus and the demand for the agreement to become “primary EU law”, as well as Cavusoglu’s unwillingness to be pinned down on the primary and hitherto under-discused subject of the conference, security issues. The six “strategic issues” according to Espen Barth Eide are : the need to replace the Treaty of Guarantee with a solution implementation mechanism, the future of Turkey’s military presence in Cyprus, the form of the rotating presidency, the property ownership arrangements in the Turkish Cypriot region and the “equal treatment” of the citizens of Turkey and Greece in Cyprus.
Eide believes that it was possible to reach agreement on guarantees and intervention rights during the final dinner, and that this outcome was only prevented by lack of trust. If one reads his Greek News interview carefully, he also indicates that such an agreement would have been possible provided there was agreement on the other strategic issues in a package. Yet this was precisely the problem, and this must have been what Anastasiades tried to overcome with his proposals of 5th July. However Cavusoglu’s negotiating tactics seem to have wanted all Greek Cypriot concessions to be made to his own satisfaction before Turkey’s commitment and even before the new moderate Turkish position on security issues alluded to by Eide, could be revealed to Anastasiades in the negotiation session.
On some issues, the difference may have widened during the Crans-Montana negotiations. The idea during previous negotiations had been that agreement on a rotating presidency would be on the basis of cross voting. That means that the Turkish Cypriot who would be elected as vice-president and become president for a rotating period would be elected by the Turkish Cypriots, and also the Greek Cypriots, with the latter’s vote weighted to 20% of the total. When Anastasiades made his package proposal at Crans-Montana, he added the proviso that president and vice-president would be elected on a common ticket. It was reported that Cavusoglu demanded the election of the vice president by the Turkish Cypriots alone, without weighting and a common ticket. This could not have been agreed to by the Greek Cypriot negotiators, if agreed to would not have passed the referendum vote, and if as seems highly unlikely, it did pass, its implementation would have been difficult and risky.
The clearest conclusion is that the cost of failure is great. The Turkish government talks of the failure and renunciation of the Secretary-General’s framework, and President Erdogan has referred to plans B and C, though in the same statement he referred to further efforts for a solution. It is also evident that the policy of integration of the occupied area and the Turkish Cypriots to Turkey has never been suspended. An important Turkish Cypriot party and a small Greek Cypriot party have renounced the bi-zonal bi-communal federation model for a solution.
For these and other reasons, it is important, as the United Nations calls for, to maintain the acquis of the negotiations so far, including the Guterres framework. Anastasiades and Akinci must know that if they fail, the chances of a solution based on reunification are much reduced. They need to create and maintain, to the extent possible, a common front despite the difficulties, and they owe it to Cyprus.
The dynamics of Euro-Turkish relations are now ambiguous for Cyprus, but also for Turkey and Europe. But there is also potential for their utilization in order to achieve a more systematic tracing and preparation in relation to Turkey’s positions and intentions by the United Nations before a possible restarting of the negotiation process .
An important though questionably available ingredient is a continued effort by Anastasiades and Akinci.