OPINION

The cost of failure

Although Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has yet to officially embrace the UN plan to reunify Cyprus as a basis for negotiations, everything seems to suggest that he will not reject it at this stage. In light of the positive reaction by Cyproit President Glafcos Clerides and Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis, talks are expected to resume next week. Even though they will proceed until the end of March, the two sides will be called to decide on the proposal ahead of the EU’s Copenhagen summit. The UN Secretariat does not want to see many modifications to Kofi Annan’s plan. Any changes will be marginal and merely on a trade-off basis after Denktash and Clerides have reached an agreement. Bargaining between the two sides will be intense. The Greek Cypriots are trying to exploit the current opportunity to push things toward a solution. On the other hand, they realize that Annan’s provisions on a series of crucial issues are detrimental to their national interests and problematic as regards the viability of the new state and its compatibility with the EU’s acquis communautaire. The establishment of a Swiss-style devolved government with broad power-sharing could prove the source of serious problems. Switzerland has a long tradition of political consensus while Cyprus will certainly be lacking in this respect. This issue is a thorny one by its very nature. This case is different, as with the obstacles that the UN plan raises to the osmosis between the two communities and the reunification of the island within the contours of a federation. The immediate implementation of the three liberties would benefit rather than damage the Turkish Cypriots. The provision for a maximum number and the lengthy transitional periods (up to 20 years) were introduced on the demand of Denktash, who has not hidden his ambition for partition. The above clauses were included despite being at odds with the principles and the functioning of the Union. For all these reasons, it’s imperative that Clerides fight a strong battle during the negotiations to forge as many amendments as possible – despite the reluctance of Washington and London to give in. The cost of the deadlocks and the crises that a non-viable solution will spawn will not be paid by the Americans and the British. Nor by the UN diplomats. Rather, it will be paid by Greek and Turkish Cypriots.