Next month is crucial

No breakthrough is expected from the UN-sponsored reunification talks between Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash that resumed in New York yesterday. The Turkish side insists on a two-state solution and reliable sources say it will only accept a loose connection between the two states via a council. Ankara is keeping no secret of its wish for complete division. Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit reiterated that the two communities cannot possibly live together. The Turkish side stipulates that Greek Cypriots not be allowed to live on Turkish-Cypriot soil and vice versa. It also demands that nationality be granted by the states and not by a central government. The value of this is that Turkish settlers can become residents of the Cypriot Republic. The Turkish element could become a majority on the island. Denktash’s positions on other issues are along the same lines. Therefore, the only hope for breaking the deadlock is in UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s proposal for a settlement agreement. However, this proposal, which has been worked out by American and British officials, most likely foresees a hybrid solution. So far, the Greek-Cypriot side has displayed great flexibility and good will so as to pre-empt EU officials from blaming it for any failure in negotiations. The EU does not want to inherit the Cyprus dispute, and some states would be willing to torpedo the island’s accession if they had the chance. Once Annan’s proposal has been presented, much will depend on Denktash’s stance. Should he insist on a two-state solution, he will be blamed for a new impasse. If he starts maneuvering, Clerides will have to mobilize all his diplomatic skill to protect Cyprus’s vital interests. A Bosnia-type confederal solution would be unacceptable, as the EU wants Cyprus to speak with one voice.