OPINION

No clear strategy

Thirty years after the traumatic Turkish invasion, Greek Cypriots are seeking to overcome the problem with the advantage of EU membership but with no clear strategy. Nicosia originally tried to win a compromise by ensuring some sort of unity for the island, hence as early as 1977 it accepted the idea of bizonal federation. Greek Cypriots used international law and UN resolutions to put pressure on Ankara, but barring some political and economic repercussions the Turks were never under enough pressure to change course. Denktash never made secret of his intentions. But this did not prevent the Greek side from clinging to its delusions. Ankara feared even a bizonal federation would sooner or later undermine its sovereignty in the occupied sector. The Greek side, for its part, kept seeking UN mediation but eventually ended up rejecting the world body’s proposed solutions. Nicosia kept invoking UN resolutions, underestimating the lack of will to impose them. These gradually shifted closer to Turkish demands, affecting Nicosia’s positions as well. Every compromise by the Greek Cypriots generated a new Turkish demand that was in part adopted by the UN. Turkish strategy stayed constant while the shape of the negotiated settlement changed. Cyprus’s decision to seek EU membership placed the dispute on a new footing. But it failed to make up for lost ground – despite the fact that Denktash’s intransigence allowed the Republic of Cyprus to join the EU without having to accept the disastrous peace plan hammered out by the US and the British. By joining the EU, Nicosia has no doubt strengthened its bargaining position but this alone cannot change the context in which a solution will be found. In the UN context, Cypriots cannot expect to get something better than the post-colonial-type of solution foreseen in the Annan plan.