Cypriots’ Voice speaks out for an urgent settlement
Cypriots’ Voice bicommunal forum, having thoroughly examined all basic aspects of the Cyprus Problem and particularly the current crisis caused by the activity of Barbaros research/survey vessel in the Cyprus exclusive economic zone and the subsequent suspension of the negotiations, reached the following conclusions:
- Concerted efforts should be undertaken by all concerned to make it possible for the peace process to be immediately resumed in order to resolve the grave dangers involved in the ongoing crisis. A comprehensive solution is more than ever an urgent need. The status quo is not static. Any further delay will make implementation of a solution more difficult.
- The region around Cyprus is highly unstable. Cyprus, and indeed Turkey after a settlement, could benefit from and contribute to stability in the region.
- The Cyprus negotiations are still conducted according to the unfruitful paradigms of 1960s and 1970s of mistrust, hatred, vengeance. The world has changed and Cypriot communities have also changed. Cyprus has become a member of the EU and although the EU acquis is suspended in the North, Turkish Cypriots have become citizens of the EU. Albeit limited, there has been a freedom of movement of people across the Green Line as well as some controlled trade. Under the new conditions there must be a paradigm shift towards trust, empathy and forgiveness in order to solve the Cyprus problem at the earliest possible time.
- Cypriots Voice, having reviewed one by one all aspects of the Cyprus Problem in view of all that has been agreed upon in the long negotiation process as well as of the convergences that have been reached at, believes that the basic body of the solution is already agreed. What needs be done is to incorporate all those elements in a “solution corpus” and then try to fill in possible gaps and discuss in good will and trust any still existing divergences.
- On the thorny issue of property, bearing in mind that life and practice will in any case meet the need for Turkish Cypriots to have a clear majority of population and land ownership in their constituent state, Cypriots’ Voice believes that it is an area where individuals have the primary role to play. Rather than use a “one-size-fits-all top-down approach”, an alternative route would be for individual legal owners to come to terms with the current users, provided appeal and mediation mechanisms are set up to assist in cases of disagreement.
- With regard to governance, the weighted cross-voting along with rotating presidency are vital for reducing deadlocks and encouraging politicians to consider the needs and concerns of the other community.
- Emphasis should be given, whenever discussing the future of the island, to the benefits of a solution in economic terms whereby a settlement will benefit the economy throughout the island from shared natural resources, increased tourism and inward investment. The issue of sharing natural resources that sparkled the present crisis in particular, seems to have been already resolved by the agreement to allocating state revenues on a federal level. The two sides, by jointly reaffirming the above agreement would help bring the peace process back on the tracks.
- In considering the future of the island, civil society and individuals have a major role to play in expressing and addressing the fears and concerns of both communities. The doctrine “nothing is decided until everything is decided” and the internal secrecy of the process does not help understanding and involvement. Politicians, being often risk-averse and lacking the quality of leadership, have failed so far to take up responsibility, to honestly explain to their constituencies the solution implications and the foreseen consequences of non-solution. Both communities see themselves as victims and sometimes demonize each other. Therefore, there will be a need for a commission of reconciliation (or a civic forum) to work before and after a solution to involve civil society.
- Trust and political decision are huge ingredients of a successful settlement, not least trust in Turkey to implement the settlement. Continuous confrontation, which loses sight of win-win possibilities, is not conducive to such trust. A settlement is not the end of difficulties. It is a beginning of efforts towards peace and stability. Any future difficulties that might arise would be more easily dealt with within the context of a united island.
Cypriots’ Voice in pursuing its goals will intensify efforts for the promotion of the spirit of coexistence of all Cypriots and leading to the unification of Cyprus in a bicommunal bizonal federation member state of the European Union.
Communiqué no 29 – Cypriots’ Voice 7/12/2014