Post-New York: A ‘win-win’ situation

If indeed there had been a diplomatic victory for one side, then the "Cyprus deal" that is to be reached cannot be just and long-lasting. Then the entire exercise will have been meaningless since the "deal" to be reached would be unsustainable and thus would be doomed to collapse.

However, the point reached and the "destination" envisaged suggest the opposite. The mechanism for a resolution of the Cyprus problem that all parties involved committed themselves to comply with, as a matter of fact, is an unprecedented formula for resolving international conflicts that are the residue of a former historical era with strong nationalist underpinnings.

That mechanism is very meticulous, indeed, as is the blueprint for resolution of the problem itself — the [Kofi] Annan plan… It is a "guarantee for resolution" with no escape from reaching an ultimate settlement. The tight timetable is designed to achieve a united Cyprus before May 1. Reaching a negotiated settlement on the basis of the Annan plan is left to the Cypriot parties until March 22. In the U.N. secretary-general’s words, "The parties will seek to agree on changes and to complete the plan in all respects by March 22, 2004, within the framework of the secretary-general’s mission of good offices, so as to produce a finalized text." Given the poor record of the Cypriot parties in reaching a comprehensive and ultimate settlement, what if they fail to do so? The following, again in the secretary-general’s words, presents the recipe:

"In the absence of such agreement, the secretary-general would convene a meeting of the two sides — with the participation of Greece and Turkey in order to lend their collaboration — in a concentrated effort to agree on a finalized text by March 29."

This is exactly what I had emphasized in this column previously, that to secure an ultimate settlement, "a Dayton or a Camp David format is required." It seems that a "New York format" with the inclusion of Greece and Turkey will be the last sequence in that ingenious format of finding a resolution to ostensibly intractable international conflicts following the Dayton and Camp David models.

Turkey and Greece’s participation in a Cyprus settlement is all the more significant since it addresses the core of the problem, because the Cyprus problem transcends an issue between the two Cypriot parties. It is, in essence, a Turkey-Greece problem and is an issue concerning the eastern Mediterranean balance of power that rests upon the two pillars: Turkey and Greece. The emergence of the Cyprus problem caused a deterioration in the otherwise close relationship nurtured by Kemal Ataturk and Eleftheros Venizelos in the 1930s that was sealed by the joint entry of the two countries to NATO in 1952. Greece’s unilateral entry to the European Union in the first half of the 1980s added to the imbalance in the east Mediterranean that started with the emergence of the Cyprus problem between the two Aegean powers. It was the Cyprus issue that exacerbated the problems in the Aegean between the countries. When the Cyprus problem is set upon the course of resolution, the settlement of other Aegean disputes will be much easier to accomplish.

EU prospects have become the galvanizing element in forcing a resolution of the Cyprus problem. Turkey was declared a "candidate" at the Helsinki summit in December 1999. The same summit removed the prerequisite of resolution of the Cyprus problem for the European enlargement that would encompass Cyprus by 2002. If a divided Cyprus were to take its place on May 1, 2004, this would present an unbearable burden for the EU, but likewise for the Greek Cypriots and Greece, leaving an estranged Turkey and Turkish Cypriots out of the EU design. Hence, a reunited Cyprus taking its reserved place in the EU by May 1 is in the best interests of the EU, Greece and the Greek Cypriots and likewise for Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots.

Everyone will be a winner in such a resolution. And above all, it is in the interests of the sole superpower, the United States, which attaches great importance to Turkey for the successful implementation of its newly formulated post-Cold War strategy of the "Greater Middle East." This strategy requires a Turkey firmly anchored in the Western system that is on the course of repairing Euro-Atlantic ties.

A divided Cyprus and a Turkey that is "Middle Easternizing" instead of "Europeanizing" would destabilize the eastern Mediterranean zone, which is essential for attaining the objective of democratizing and stabilizing the Greater Middle East. With a divided Cyprus and Europe’s dividing line passing through the Aegean Sea, Greece will be crippled and fall short of providing the regional balance needed for such a strategic objective.

But what if even Turkey and Greece fail to resolve their differences? The procedure and methodology in New York stipulate that "if differences still persist by March 29, Kofi Annan is empowered ‘to fill in the blanks’ to present the final text of the resolution to referanda on April 21." All parties consented to this procedure in New York. Alvaro de Soto, the Peruvian diplomat who is Annan’s special Cyprus representative, says, "Very much as a last resort, the secretary-general, with reluctance, will have the last word."

There may be no need for the last resort, that is, that the secretary-general, "with reluctance" will have the last word. Turkey’s undersecretary of Foreign Affairs and one of the main architects of the "deal," Ambassador Ugur Ziyal, has an upbeat view. He declared, "The work we started [in New York] will end in a win-win situation." Rauf Denktas reiterated the same view in very similar words. He said, "I believe that the work we have started will end in a win-win situation." Will there be no losers in such a "win-win" situation?

There definitely will be and there already are. They are the anachronistic nationalists and isolationists on each side, including Turkey’s so-called social democrats. They are in a trauma after the New York talks. Are we allowed to express the wish that settlement of the Cyprus problem on the foundation laid in New York may one day transform Turkey’s so-called social democrats to comply with the requirements of the 21st century so Turkey can further consolidate its democracy and pro-European identity?

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