Tag: <span>Cyprus</span>

Nicosia Negotiations on the future of Cyprus Book Reviews

Nicosia Beyond Barriers. Voices From A Divided City

A.Savin (Wikimedia Commons · WikiPhotoSpace), FAL,

Alev Adil, Aydin Mehmet Ali, Bahriye Kemal, Maria Petrides (Eds.)

(London: Saqi Books, 2019, 249pp.)

Negotiations on the future of Cyprus encouraged by the United Nations remain deadlocked.  There is on the one hand a largely Greek-led Cyprus which is a member of the European Union, a Turkish-led Cyprus which wishes to be called the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, and between the two a zone under the control of U.N. peacekeepers.  Nicosia, the capital city, is a reflection of this  three-way division.

As Mary Anne Zammid writes in “Shades of A City”  Between night and day, the city is closed, divided by cold gates.  In the midst of silence and lines of despair, walls of silence sending instructions without meaning, only feeling of captivity.

However, there is also a Cypriot culture which is an outgrowth of long cohabitation as well as minorities from other Mediterranean countries such as Armenians and Palestinians or newer diaspora such as people from Zimbabwe and Nigeria.   There is also a strong British influence due to the British colonial rule.

Ledra Street Crossing.

This anthology of short stories, poems and reflections gives a good picture of the complex interactions including those who want a Cyprus without walls and lines that divide. As Rachael Pettus writes in her poem “Ledra Street Crossing ”

People fill out papers, hand over documents and file through checkpoints, orderly, polite… And the birds?  They flap from rooftops and balconies, sing in the trees and weave between flagpoles.

Birds are often used as symbols.  Alev Adil in his “Fragments From An Architecture Of Forgetting” recalls what the Sufi sage Aamer wrote that doves were our nobler feelings, the ravens our anger, our fear, our doubt.  We must free the doves, let them fly free, but should keep the ravens locked in or they will return with their malevolence redoubled.

For the moment, there are more ravens than doves.  Thinking of new possibilities is necessary.

You can acquire your book here Saqibooks.com

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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Cyprus Appeals

Cyprus: Toward a Non-territorial Con-federation?

British Army official photographer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Three days, 27-29 April 2021, of “informal” talks on the future of Cyprus were held in Geneva under the leadership of U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.  There have been no formal negotiations on the issue since 2017.  The U.N.-sponsored meeting with representatives of Greek and Turkish Cypriots as well as representatives of Greece, Turkey, and the United Kingdom – the former colonial power – was to assertain if there is enough common ground to start negotiations later this year.  Antonio Guterres called on the parties to “be creative in their thinking” – but creativity has been in short supply. However, the geopolitical atmostphere has grown more tense since 2017 with tensions between Turkey and Greece over maritime boundaries and the potential use of natural resources.

Cyprus has been divided between Greek and Turkish Cypriots since 1974, Turkish Cypriots in the north, Greek Cypriots in the south with a U.N. monitored buffer zone separating the two. There are still some 40,000 Turkish troops in the Turkish Cypriot area.  The U.N. peacekeeping mission (UNFICYP) has been in Cyprus since 1964 when bad rioting among the Greek and Turkish populations was an indicator that things could get worse and lead to hostilities between Greece and Turkey themselves.

The complex political situation has three States as “guarantor powers” – the United Kingdom which was the colonial master until 1963 and Greece and Turkey which created the tensions in the first place. 

The Devil is in the details.

The Greek Cypriots hold that Cyprus should be one State and not two, that this one State would be federal in nature, and that this re-united State would be part of the European Union. But “the Devil is in the details;”. The first but crucial “detail” is the geographic frontiers of the Greek and Turkish areas.  Given the emotional and complex nature of the situation, geographic divisions with no “natural” frontiers are an issue which can cause real disagreements. Moreover, frontiers can also serve as an excuse if the real disagreement is something else.

The leader of the Turkish Cypriots, Ersin Tatar, proposes a two-state model “living side-by-side in  good, neighborly relationships”. Ersin Tatar is closely supported by the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and some see the Turkish proposals as an avenue for Erdogan’s ” Neo-Ottoman” influence in the area. 

There is a prior agreement that when there is finally a firm proposal, the proposal  will be presented to both Greek and Turkish Cypriot populations in simultaneous referendums.  Thus the negotiators must take into consideration the popular attitudes on both sides so that the agreement is mutually acceptable.  The hope is that “the time is ripe” for agreement when both Greece and Turkey are preoccupied with other issues in the volatile region and  many Cypriots are tired of the status quo.

A con-federal Cyprus.

There are two aspects of the negotiations on which the Association of World Citizens  has made proposals given the Association’s long-standing interest in developing appropriate constitutional structures.  First, for understandable reasons, the term “federal” is now most often used rather than “con-federal”.  In the case of Cyprus “ a con-federal Cyprus” might be the better term, a looser form of union, one in which dealing with issues at the most local level possible would be the constitutional structure.

Borders and frontiers are often thought to be “natural and inviolable” even if they are only borders in the mind.  Attitudes toward borders are often conflict-perpetuating.  Borders are a reflection of the past rather than of the future. 

Today, there is a need for cross-communal cooperation. Thus there may be a possibility for a Cyprus con-federation based not on geographic divisions  but on functions, such as economic initiatives, land law, personal status concerning marriage, separation and inheritance. Such a functionally-based con-federation has conflict-solving potential.  There is the Ottoman Empire precedent of different legal rules for people living in the same area.

However, neo-Ottoman ideology may not be the best approach to stress in the current Cyprus negotiations. Cyprus has one of the oldest UN forces keeping the two communities apart. A con-federal approach  may be a spark of hope for advances in bringing them together.

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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