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Media Watch 2008

27 June 2008
Source: Cyprus Weekly
Author: Andreas Hadjipapas
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Weekly of Nicosia on 27 June 2008.
Not so balanced
THE new ICG report on Cyprus seeks to present a balanced review of the positions of the sides, but does not conceal its utter contempt for the UN Security Council, and its resolutions.

"THE new ICG report on Cyprus seeks to present a balanced review of the positions of the sides, but does not conceal its utter contempt for the UN Security Council, and its resolutions.

It asks the "Greek Cypriot administration" to make a number of moves that would amount to de facto recognition of the breakaway TRNC, which has been condemned by the UN as a secessionist entity.

It suggests that "Turkish Cypriot counterparts" should be treated as "legitimate partners," that limitations on international activities by T/C organizations should be relaxed, that direct trade be allowed between Turkish Cypriots and the EU using the ports in the north, and that Turkish Cypriots participate in the 2009 EU parliamentary elections.

Yet the Security Council was firm in its decisions; no country should assist this secessionist entity. Is the ICG implying that countries should openly flout UN resolutions?

The Crisis Group is right in urging everyone to "move beyond painful memories" and work for "difficult compromises".

Fair enough

We forget what happened in the past, for the sake of building trust and a better future.

But the presence of a 40,000-strong Turkish army occupying the island’s north is not a thing of the past. It is here now. And instead of urging Turkey to show respect for the UN resolutions calling for withdrawal of all foreign forces from Cyprus, the Group merely asks Turkey to "lower the profile of its troop presence on Cyprus," not by reducing its size, but carrying out "redeployments" and showing "greater transparency about numbers."

It argues that through such moves it would "signal" to Greek Cypriots that it backs the search for a settlement!

Yet in the report it is stated that hardliners in Turkey see north Cyprus as "part of Turkey," want to keep a strong Turkish army presence in northern Cyprus since in their view Turkey’s fundamental strategic concerns "go beyond the more parochial ones of the Turkish Cypriots themselves."

To add insult to injury, the Group recommends that the "Greek Cypriot administration" not only support Turkey’s eventual membership of the European Union but offer "real help" for the accession process, by avoiding any objections to the opening of certain chapters of its entry negotiations.

Among a total of at least seven "recommendations" addressed to Greek Cypriots, the Group asks that they "avoid gratuitous attacks on Turkey" and attempts to drive wedges between it and Turkish Cypriots.

In other words, don’t complain when an overbearing neighbour breaks into your house and seizes your property, and don’t report him to the police.

There is only one specific recommendation addressed to Turkey, to open its ports and airports to Greek Cypriot traffic, since this would bring "many benefits" to Turkey and should not be seen as a concession. This, of course is an obligation, which Ankara undertook under the 2005 additional protocol to the EU-Turkey customs union agreement.

The actual report is a genuine attempt to analyse the conflict objectively, present the work of the technical committees and working groups so far, explain the present difficult situation in Turkey, the important role the EU could play, and warning of the dangers if the present peace effort fails.

There are also useful arguments and ideas concerning the thorny property issue and the future of mainland Turkish settlers.

"If the 2008/2009 window of opportunity closes without result, there will be no political will to reopen discussion of reunification for many years", it notes.

Particularly constructive is the suggestion to the UN that its special adviser on Cyprus expected to be appointed by Ban Ki-moon, must serve as a "facilitator offering suggestions, not an arbitrator", and that when the talks are deadlocked, the UN mission, assisted by the EU, should supply options.

As underlined in one point in the report when discussing security: "Objectively, the best security guarantee would be a functioning new state of affairs in Cyprus".

The leaderships of the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots have now changed, it concludes, and their thinking has evolved, With a renewed international effort, "what should have happened in 2004 can happen in 2008"."