OPINION

Turkey, not the Greek Cypriots, was to blame at Crans-Montana

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Following the recent revelations about what happened at the the high-level talks on the Cyprus issue in the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana in July 2017, the fictitious and distorting image that had been created in some corners, and which Ankara had diligently and largely successfully cultivated, that the Greek-Cypriot side was responsible for the impasse, is collapsing.

This ascertainment is not the subjective view of Athens or Nicosia, which a well-meaning third observer would have every right to question, but the objective reality as evidenced by the official minutes of the United Nations published by the Hellas Journal website.

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades was not the one who made the talks difficult, he was not the “obstacle” at the conference. On the contrary, he made many concessions, which the majority of Greek Cypriots probably do not want and it is not at all certain that they would accept in a possible future referendum.

Ankara considers Cyprus part of its strategic presence in the Eastern Mediterranean and is not likely to accept a truly free and independent, united or federal Republic of Cyprus, if this country does not serve its geopolitical and economic interests.

In this light, it is quite unlikely that it will agree to the withdrawal of its troops and the abolition of guarantees. As Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the Crans-Montana conference, according to the minutes, this prospect was a “nonstarter.”

But what kind of independent democratic member-state of the European Union will Cyprus be if a third country reserves the legal right – agreed by all – to intervene, or has foreign military forces on its territory?

Ankara’s insistence on a “political equality,” in a maximalist manner which essentially overturns the principle of equality, as well as on arrangements that do not guarantee the functioning of Cyprus as a country with one international sovereignty, cannot be accepted. Not only from the Greek-Cypriot side and Athens, but also from the European Union, which obviously does not want to invite Ankara to hinder its own smooth operation through the exploitation by the Turkish Cypriots of their role in the governance of Cyprus.

Only if Turkey makes a strategic choice and decides to contribute to an honorable compromise that will lead to a fair, democratic, but also functional, solution, accepted by the EU of which Cyprus is an equal member, can there be progress and, ultimately, an agreement.

Until then, it is unfair, to put it mildly, to blame Nicosia for any impasse.