Turkey seems to be to Cyprus to consolidate EastMed positive factors

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Feb 22, 2021

Ankara is working with its allies within the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus to make a case for a two-state resolution within the leadup to a UN-sponsored summit scheduled for early March on the divided Eastern Mediterranean island. 

“We will enter into a deal as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and not as the Turkish Cypriot community,” Foreign Minister Tahsin Ertugruloglu instructed Al-Monitor in a phone interview. “The road to a settlement passes through the recognition that there are two separate states on the island of Cyprus.”

The two-state resolution has been closely promoted because the election of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ally Ersin Tatar as president of Northern Cyprus final yr. The island is on the middle of ongoing maritime disputes within the jap Mediterranean Sea over unique financial zones and potential gasoline reserves. 

Greece and Turkey are two guarantor powers of the island together with the United Kingdom below a structure that granted Cyprus independence in 1960 from colonial rule by Britain. Athens has been on the entrance traces of Turkey’s deteriorating relations with the West and the 2 NATO allies have engaged in heated sparring over maritime disputes

Dimitris Katsoudas, a former Greek secretary basic for European affairs who held numerous authorities positions below the ruling New Democracy Party, instructed Al-Monitor that Turkey is probably going posturing with its calls for for a very separate state on Cyprus. 

“Turkey will defend the idea of a two-state solution in Cyprus not in order to achieve fully separate states but to achieve a northern Turkish state with a lot of ownership of its own that would be almost independent,” he mentioned. 

Past settlement talks centered on two constituent states joined in a federation. This framework was the closest the island of 1.2 million folks got here to reunification within the type of the UN-backed Annan plan earlier than the ascension of Cyprus into the EU. Turkish Cypriots voted overwhelmingly for the plan however 76% of Greek Cypriots rejected it.

Seventeen years later, the Annan plan remains to be hotly debated with either side invoking it to problem the opposite’s lack of excellent religion and designs to take advantage of their respective communities.

“The Annan plan was really a chance to end the issue and that was rejected by the Greek Cypriots. Now there is no trust towards the UN-led initiative,” mentioned Murat Aslan, a former Turkish navy intelligence skilled who has held varied roles within the Defense Ministry and General Staff. 

Marios Evriviades, a professor of worldwide relations and historical past at Neapolis University in Pafos, Cyprus, says a significant cause the plan was rejected was that it didn’t correctly deal with the elimination of Turkish troops from the island. “The Turks want the military presence not for protection but so they can continue plundering the wealth of Cyprus. They won’t allow normality to function.”

A two-state resolution goes towards UN Security Council resolutions on Cyprus. Athens additionally rejects the thought of a brand new Turkish state. 

Yet after years of failed talks and many years of living in de facto separation, the thought has extra supporters than Erdogan and Tatar. Some even consider that Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiadis himself favors two separate states. 

Katsoudas tells Al-Monitor that as time progresses the Cyprus subject turns into extra intractable. “Realities on the island have drastically changed. At the beginning, Turkish Cypriots were the majority and they had a Cypriot identity. Now the vast majority of the inhabitants are from the hinterland of Anatolia.” 

The fading reminiscence of a united Cyprus and the urge to go separate methods after years of frustration with the UN course of give the two-state resolution extra traction. It can also be what many individuals are accustomed to from each day life. 

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when a failed coup tried to unite the territory with Greece and Turkish troops invaded within the title of defending the Turkish minority. Since then, the internationally acknowledged Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish republic, acknowledged solely by Ankara, have been divided by the inexperienced line operating throughout the island.

“The two-state solution was realized after 1974. There are two different administrations. The parameter to assess its sufficiency is if there has been any conflict on the island since then, which there has not been,” Aslan acknowledged. 

Evriviades agrees a two-state resolution would in some methods imply institutionalizing the established order, warning Greek Cypriots should foyer Western capitals towards it.

“When the Turks talk about two states they talk about a state in the north which they control and a state in the south that is there satrapy,” he mentioned. 

“If you’re not going to give me security I’m not signing any piece of paperwork that gives up the legitimacy of the Cypriot state. The legitimacy of Cyprus is the only real power the Cypriots have,” Evrividades added. 

Those within the north bristle at this suggestion and consider that two state is the one manner ahead after years of worldwide isolation. “If you want a settlement you must accept the realities of the island. There is no legitimate Republic of Cyprus,” Ertugruloglu instructed Al-Monitor. 

Against this backdrop, analysts say it’s tough to think about progress being made throughout subsequent month’s talks. But Erdogan might really feel he has time on his facet. The longer the difficulty goes unresolved the extra all Cypriots develop used to the divided island. 

Another cause Erdogan is leaning on the Cyprus subject is the possibility it gives him to consolidate positive factors within the jap Mediterranean whilst he reaches out to the West. Recent speak from Ankara of willingness to cooperate over the S-400 missiles and indicators that it’s searching for a reset with the EU will face pushback amongst nationalist voices in Turkey. Advancing the reason for Northern Cyprus would garner assist in these quarters and supply cowl for cooperation in different areas. 

Western powers seem much less keen to confront Turkey in Cyprus. Erdogan didn’t invent the Cyprus subject and Turkish troops have been stationed on the island since 1974. As against an imperial foray within the deserts of Libya, Ankara’s concern for Cyprus is tied to the roughly 300,000 Turkish folks living within the north. 

“We have never shied away from expressing that the Cyprus question is a national matter for the Turkish nation. The future for Turkish Cypriots is a road we will embark upon with our motherland Turkey,” Ertugruloglu instructed Al-Monitor. 

If leaders in Brussels and Washington are searching for an space to compromise with Ankara it might be in Cyprus. Many nonetheless remorse that the Annan plan was voted down and contemplate it a misplaced alternative to resolve the difficulty.

Whether there’s a two-state resolution or not, Turkey might have the wind at its again in Cyprus.