The Cyprus Negotiations After Crans-Montana – Dr Klearchos A. Kyriakides, Director, ERPIC Democracy and Rule of Law Program, 14 July 2017
The Cyprus Negotiations After Crans-Montana
Dr Klearchos A. Kyriakides Director
ERPIC Democracy and Rule of Law Program
14th July 2017
On July 7th the negotiations for a solution to the Cyprus problem concluded at Crans-Montana without reaching a settlement. With us today is Dr. Klearchos Kyriakides, Director of the Democracy and Rule of Law program at ERPIC
George Pelaghias (G.P): Dr Kyriakides, what actually happened in Switzerland?
Klearchos Kyriakides (K.K.): The first thing I had to say in response to that question is: I do not know! And I do not know because the so-called ‘Conference on Cyprus’ unfolded in secret, behind closed doors, and behind the backs of the citizens and lawful residents of the Republic of Cyprus and the European Union of which it forms part. All we know is what has been released officially by the United Nations and by the various participants at the conference together with certain snippets of information that have been leaked out of the ‘Conference on Cyprus’, which came to close on the 7th of July, having begun on the 12th of January 2017. So the first answer is: we don’t know, because there has been a procedurally unfair process put in place by the United Nations which is designed, it seems, to keep out the citizens and those of us who might want to hold the various participants to account.
Now, having said all of that, I would make two main points with regard to what has happened. One relates to procedure, the other relates to substance. In terms of procedure, what seems to have happened, apart from meeting behind closed doors in secret, is the following. The Macmillan Doctrine, as I call it, has been revived. Now what is the Macmillan Doctrine? It’s the approach that was adopted by the government of the United Kingdom during the prime ministership of Harold Macmillan from 1957 until 1963. Harold Macmillan wanted the Cyprus problem, as the British started call it in the mid-50s, Harold Macmillan, the British prime minister of the day, wanted the Cyprus problem to be resolved by means of a partnership consisting of three sovereign states, Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom operating in ‘partnership’ – Harold Macmillan’s word – with the ‘two communities’- another phrase Harold Macmillan gave birth to during the late 1950s. And even though that concept was created during the late British imperial era in Cyprus within the framework of what was then known as the British Crown Colony of Cyprus, the Macmillan Doctrine has been brought back to life in the twenty first century in the year 2017, in the context of an existing sovereign state known as the Republic of Cyprus, which is a full member state of the United Nations, the Commonwealth, the Council of Europe, and the European Union, to name but four international organizations. So what we’ve seen unfold in a supposedly post-imperial era is the revival of an imperial practice which dates back to the late British imperial era.
Now, why do I say that? I say that because of the evidence that’s in the public domain. If one reads the official statements that have been published by the United Nations, particularly since the 12th of January 2017, when the so-called ‘Conference on Cyprus’ began, one barely finds any mention whatsoever of the Republic of Cyprus. What one does find are multiple references to the participants in the ‘Conference on Cyprus’, the three guarantor powers, Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom, plus the ‘two communities’, who were described as ‘the Greek Cypriot community’ and ‘the Turkish Cypriot community’, who are represented at the conference by two gentlemen described as ‘the Greek Cypriot’ leader and ‘the Turkish Cypriot’ leader. We’ve seen unfold at this ‘Conference on Cyprus’ – to use the UN phrase – a really peculiar procedure that in my view is unfair and a throwback to the British imperial era.
Now, that’s all by way of background as to what has happened procedurally. As to what has happened in terms of substance, I’ll say something else. What we’ve seen at the so-called ‘Conference on Cyprus’ is the apotheosis of Turkish grand strategy. We’ve seen a collective capitulation to what I call the five pillars of irrationality, or the five pillars of partition. What are they? Firstly, the proposition that the Island of Cyprus is Turkish. Secondly, that the fundamental principles of majoritarian democracy, unitary self-determination and integration must be undermined. Thirdly, that the citizens of the sovereign state known as the Republic of Cyprus must be divided into two separate communities. Fourthly, that the two separate communities must be separated and segregated into two separate zones. And finally, that this extraordinary basket case of an arrangement must be held together by means of a federation locally, which is locked into a partnership internationally. And I’ve used the word ‘partnership’ again, because the two communities locally are locked into this trilateral partnership and arrangement involving Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
Now, having said all of that, we mustn’t lose sight of two basic facts. The first is that when the Republic of Cyprus was established in 1960, it was established in line with the demands of Turkey, which rested on the formation of a bi-communal state, so that the citizens would be fragmented into two communities. The second thing that we need to remember and never forget is that bi-communal arrangement fell apart through the inter-communal troubles of 1963 and ’64, and ultimately through the two Turkish invasions of 1974, Turkey was able to implement its pre-existing designs by means of two invasions, the ethno-religious cleansing of the north of the Republic of Cyprus, the occupation of 36% of the territory and 57% of the coastline of the Republic of Cyprus, and the uprooting of members of the Turkish community who happened to live south of what became ceasefire lines, and their effectively forced relocation to the north.
What we’ve seen in answer the question what exactly happened at the ‘Conference on Cyprus’, what we saw was an attempt to legalize the de facto realities generated after the two Turkish invasions. But really, more deeply than that, what happened in Switzerland was the eclipse of democratic values, the undermining of the concept of integration, the demise of the principle of majoritarian democracy. And we also saw a collecting bowing to Turkey and to the demands of Turkey, which predated the Turkish invasion and went back at least to 1964, but they owe their origins to 1956, and are switching in Turkish thinking. And in that context let me just remind everyone that when Turkey adopted the principle and the policy of partition in 1956, Turkey did so on the back of a British initiative. But perhaps more importantly and rather worryingly from that standpoint of today, Turkey embraced the policy of partition in 1956 as a ‘sacrifice’ – that’s the Turkish word that was used as at the time. Partition was accepted as a ‘sacrifice’ because Turkey regarded the whole of Cyprus as Turkish, even though it was legally British under the Treaty of Lausanne. And the idea that the partition was a ‘sacrifice’ is something that should rather trouble us, because it suggests that partition, either through a de facto arrangement, as it existed since 1974, or through a de jure federal arrangement as the negotiators have been trying to find through these secret talks, either of those outcomes is not entirely in keeping with the original Turkish idea, which was that the island of Cyprus should pass from British into Turkish hands.
G.P.: Is the process of finding a solution to the Cyprus problem over?
K.K.: The search for a settlement to the Cyprus problem has been on and off in one form or another since the mid to late 1960s. We were told both before and during the conference on Cyprus that this was the last chance. And nobody actually went to any great detail as to what might happen next, if this last chance wasn’t grasped. And to that extent the abuse of the phrase ‘the last chance’ in my view was calculated to play on the minds of people to create a sense of stress and trepidation. And also to provide, possibly, a psychological advantage to the beneficiaries of the last chance, if it was to be grasped, which of course so far it hasn’t been.
I want to point out in this context that the phrase ‘the last chance’ was first used by Harold Macmillan, the then British prime minister, in the summer of 1958. It was also used by his Colonial Secretary Allan Lennox-Boyd in the context of the ill-fated Macmillan Plan of the summer of 1958. So it’s a very old phrase that’s been recycled, or reheated, or rehashed from time to time over the past 60 years. And what history does tell us is that the process is not over.
My one concern, having said all of that, is we’ve been put on notice by history that Turkey has a track record of invading, Turkey has a track record of occupying and colonizing Cyprus – in the last forty years they’ve done that in relation to the 36% of the Republic in the north and 57% of the coastline of the Republic in the north. So I think we should be on guard as to what Turkey may or may not do in the future. And I say that mindful of the undeniable reality that Turkey has been turned into an authoritarian, if not tyrannical regime, a state under the regime of President Erdogan.
G.P.: What comes next?
K.K.: Democracy is that the world need to wake up. They need to wake up and appreciate that their policies of appeasing Turkey have failed. The policy of appeasement was supposedly going to transform Turkey from an authoritarian Kemalist state into a shining democracy which could take its place in the family of democratic nations. That’s failed. President Erdoğan has shuttered that to pieces. What appeasement has done is that it’s given Turkey the appetite to be ever more aggressive, ever more bullying, and ever more intimidatory in its approach to the European Union. In the lead-up to the referendum in Turkey on the 16th of April one Turkish Minister after another issued menacing statements. At the forefront of the menacing statements was President Erdoğan himself. I referrer you, for example, to the speech he gave on the morning of the 22nd of March 2017, when he effectively warned that no European would be safe walking on the streets of Europe if the Europeans didn’t bow to his wishes.
So what should happen next? There needs to be a new strategy formulated, first of all here in the Republic of Cyprus, but also beyond the Republic of Cyprus into the remainder of the European Union.
G.P.: Thank you very much and we are hoping to have you back with us soon.
K.K.: You’re welcome. Thank you.