Cypriots’ Voice met in live conference on Saturday 10 July for the first time since covid restrictions imposed and the Green Line effectively closed, to update themselves and discuss together the main and immediate obstacles to a settlement among them being the Geneva Conference in April, the persistent line of two state solution coming from the Turkish Cypriot leader and Turkey, the elections in both communities, the picture of politics in both communities, as well as the status of citizens participation in the peace process. Having reviewed the relevant issues, concluded the following:
- Cyprus negotiations and the people
After the collapse of hope at the international (5+1) conference in April 2021, Cyprus negotiations have reached the worst deadlock ever. The administrations in both communities openly work against people solidarity both with their rhetoric and political action. People must bond in groups of pro-settlement Cypriots opposing the anti-settlement elites. It is time to actively promote citizenship for federation. So far, the Federation option was never put in front of the people, neither was it explained, nor was it given as an option in a referendum. Cypriots’ Voice calls upon the people and the organised civic society to undertake initiatives to continue the struggle for peace in every way they can to enforce the continuation of the process for a Bizonal Bicommunal Federation settlement in line with the UN framework based upon the relevant resolutions of the Security Council.
- Activism for peace and democracy
Cypriots’ Voice acknowledges the movement of youth activism that has recently flourished especially among Greek Cypriot youth which gradually built up after the 2020 closing of checkpoints with the excuse of hindering spread of covid19. Numerous new groups of young people not associated with political parties or politics are mobilised in the streets demanding cleansing of the corrupt establishment on both sides of the Green Line. The “os dame” group in the south and “this country is ours” in the north are brilliant samples of this phenomenon. Coordination between groups is still difficult, but efforts are in place for the establishment of a bicommunal citizens assembly incorporating the current bicommunal platforms in a more structured way.
- Turkey’s intervention in north Cyprus
The political, social, and economic situation in Turkey is tragic. Whereas people are suffering, the Erdogan regime struggles to stay in power, otherwise they face trial and imprisonment. Therefore, no settlement in Cyprus can be envisaged until they can turn the situation to their benefit. They brutally intervened in Northern Cyprus and try to control the Turkish Cypriot community through granting Cypriot citizenship to more Turkish nationals, bribing, and terrorising voters, promoting young people going to mosque – they offer a brand-new bicycle to those who visit the mosque three times a week! Turkey’s effort is to change the secular-democratic Turkish Cypriots into a religious-ethnic community. Turkey interfered to impose Tatar’s regime in the TRNC. There was open and uncovered activity led by Turkish Intelligence and the Turkish Embassy directed at voters, so they would support Tatar’s presidency, particularly in the second round of the elections. These activities included: (a) warning to Karpasia settlers that with a settlement the Greek Cypriots would return and recover their properties (b) promises to open Varosha to the benefit of EVKAF (c) cash money given against proof of vote. Tangible interventions were accentuated and documented in a relevant report prepared by prominent members of the Turkish Cypriot society. Cypriots’ Voice examined the findings of the report and calls upon the Civic Society and the political leadership to work together positively, so these interventions are considered, and the result erased in seeking a permanent settlement of the Cyprus problem.
- Parliamentary Elections analysis
The elections in the south have prima facie revealed a retreat of the left-wing forces and an increase of nationalism and extreme right parties. However, a careful analysis of the results and actual votes cast, eliminates the original or superficial picture, and reveals general failure of the political system to maintain people support. By counting the votes by ideological group this reveals an almost equal loss of numbers in all parties; the left-wing AKEL lost 10,292 votes, the right-wing parties DISY+DIKO+ELAM lost 13,262 votes. On the other hand, there was an amalgamation in the centre DIPA and EDEK collecting votes mostly shifted from previous opportunistic groups, Citizens Alliance, and Solidarity. Many groups without specific ideological brand or political leadership participated in the elections but this has not affected the makeup of the elected parliament. These observations suggest that the political leadership has no firm connection with the people. A political programme must be worked out based on a bicommunal perspective that will give political expression to the people looking for a solution, but also to clear and decisive action for a Cyprus settlement on a political framework that will ensure social unity and Cypriot citizenship.
- Corruption and social impact
Corruption in the south which is mainly led by deep nepotism and professional entanglement of the ruling establishment has spoilt all aspects of Cypriot life through (a) The geographical division caused by the 1974 coup and invasion, (b) the economic collapse from which both communities are suffering, (c) the incomplete ecological policy that leads to the desertification of the island, (d) the great deficit of the policy of cultural and education, (e) the huge corruption problem, (f) erosion of the rule of law. The Greek Cypriot political elites, in the name of the struggle against the occupation, became participants and protectors of a status quo which fits and serves mainly their economic interests, all this done in the name of patriotism. Cypriots’ Voice expresses strong concern about the continuation of these activities and calls upon all citizens to demand a radical change which can only be implemented via a settlement of the Cyprus issue which will prevent the ruling elite of the Republic to Cyprus behaving without political scrutiny though creating a Federal democratic system.
- Confidence Building Measures
The Turkish Cypriot community is gradually declining because of the stalemate in the negotiations, the economic dependency on Turkey and the continuing interventions of Turkey’s religious, economic, and corrupt establishment in their community structures. Without a strong distinct Turkish Cypriot Community, the efforts for a settlement lose out to the long-term politics of Turkey to annex the north and eventually the whole of Cyprus. The local and international actors involved in the Cyprus issue should promptly implement specific measures which will both promote Cypriotism and strengthen the distinct structures of the community. Such measures could include: (a) The government of the Republic of Cyprus refusing more citizenships to Turks through promotion of international reaction; (b) EU supporting the Turkish Cypriot community through activation of regional policy funds by recognising the north of Cyprus as the second region of member-state Cyprus; (c) The EU and UN could propose attractive incentives so Turkish Nationals who are citizens of the TRNC accept the concept of Bizonal Bicommunal Federation which will protect their Cypriot identity and give them EU citizenship. Cypriots’ Voice values and welcomes the process of confidence building measures as a good instrumentation that will keep up the current dynamics and operate supplementarily to the efforts for a permanent overall settlement.
- The way forward
Cypriots’ Voice adopts the position that there is an urgent need for the reinforcement of civic society solidarity and common activism, acknowledging in parallel the importance of implementation of confidence building measures between the communities. Every positive aspect needs to be employed in the struggle for peace, specifically highlighting the use of the UN process, participation of Civic Society groups in the peace process (for example, gender, youth, bicommunal assemblies), promotion of a bicommunal civil society, support of a youth movement, promotion of solution oriented literature/action, and especially the enrichment of a physical assembly of people through encouragement of formal and informal conferences, seminars and socialisation activities which could be organised as part of the peace process led by the UN Secretary General.
Communiqué No 40 – Cypriots’ Voice – 20/07/2021