The participants in last week’s informal meeting on the Cyprus problem left Geneva satisfied with the fact that each could blame the other for the meeting’s failure. The inability to find common ground that would allow the resumption of talks for a solution, however, does not mean a simple extension of the inertia of many years, it signals that Cyprus is entering a dangerous new phase.
The result of the Geneva meeting was that the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey set out their rejection of a bizonal, bicommunal federation, the framework for United Nations negotiations up to now. The United States, the European Union and Russia oppose a two-state solution, but in the fluid situation in the region, no one can rule out Cyprus finding itself in the center of intensive bargaining by bigger players. Today, relations between the United States and Turkey may be in the freezer, but Washington’s need to contain Russia and China will strengthen Ankara’s hand. Russia, which now has bases in Syria and few deposits by Russians in Cypriot banks, will most likely not show the interest that it did in the past.
If the UN framework for a solution is cast away, those who will surely lose are the people of Cyprus, on both sides of the Green Line. The Greek Cypriots will find themselves bordering a separate state, or, worse, Turkey itself. Because the ever more autocratic government in Ankara will not tolerate an “alternative,” independent mode of government by Turkish Cypriots, the occupied territory would probably be annexed by Turkey. The Turkish Cypriots would then lose their unique community and identity.
The more time that passes, the more firm the Turkish positions will become, and Ankara will sell any “concessions” at the highest price. The governments of Cyprus and Greece will have to act swiftly and dynamically to pursue a solution within the UN framework, to strengthen their position and shore up the support that the United States, the European Union and Russia are expressing today. Because, in the bazaar, if you don’t know what you are doing, you run the risk of being sold.