Report: Cyprus reunification deal taking shape

In the Republic of Cyprus, the Greek flag is seen more often than the national one. [James Crisp/Flickr]

A website in Cyprus has published what looks like the blueprint of an agreement for the reunification of the island, divided since 1974.

Omphalos news service in Republic of Cyprus (the Southern part of the island) has translated an article in Politis about the current talks aimed at finding a solution to the Cyprus problem. Sources from Cyprus told that the publication seems to be reliable.

Politis says that the atmosphere of the Cyprus talks has changed for the better over the last few weeks, according to well-informed sources on both sides, in contrast to the feeling a while back that things had reached a deadlock.

Differences in the chapters on government, economy and the European Union have been greatly reduced, with only a few details left to iron out, some of which may be being held as last minute bargaining cards.

Two big differences are reported remain, specifically the property issue, which seems to be hanging on the issue of guarantees/security, and to a lesser degree, how the solution will be financed.

Cyprus will develop offshore gas irrespective of reunification

Cyprus will continue its project of developing offshore gas, keeping this dossier “completely separate” from the negotiations for the reunification of the island, the Cypriot Minister of Energy, Yorgos Lakkotrypis, said today (26 May).

The property issue relates to the possessions Greek Cypriots lost on the Turkish Cypriot side, and vice versa. The guarantees refer to the role of larger countries such as Turkey in case the independence, territorial integrity and security of Cyprus would be at stake. Turkey referred to the 1960 Treaty of Guarantees between the Republic of Cyprus, Greece, Turkey and the UK, to justify the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, which followed a coup d’état in Cyprus ordered by the military junta in Greece.

Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiades has made it clear that he will not accept any guarantees and nor will the Greek Cypriots vote for any solution that contains any. Politis notes that the Greek Cypriot side is cautiously optimistic that some commonly acceptable formula may be found on this matter based on the fact that they haven’t been pressured by any external powers in this direction.

The financial aspect of the property issue is the other aspect that will determine whether a solution will be found. The Turkish Cypriots are reported to believe that the money for compensation will easily be found, whereas the Greek Cypriots and the IMF feel the cost of a solution must be reduced as much as possible because there is no easily available money and investors will only come to the island after the solution is implemented to reduce their risk. Thus the effort is focused on finding a formula for the property issue, as well as on the size of the federal government in order to limit bureaucracy and avoid inefficiency.

Politis believes everything depends on what will happen in the twenty days between 23 August and 14 September. It is hoped that during the first meeting, the leaders will put the property issue to rest, or at the very least will agree that it hinges on the territorial issue. The leaders have agreed to hold three meetings in August (on the 23, 29 and 31) and four meetings in September (2, 6, 8 and 14), when they will discuss all the chapters in depth. If all goes well, this will pave the way for a joint meeting between Anastasiades, Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncıi and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in New York, during which they will discuss the possibility of holding a conference in the fall on the external aspects of the Cyprus problem.

The paper notes that the coup in Turkey has created an atmosphere of uncertainty around Turkey’s intentions. However, it has strengthened the Greek Cypriot side’s position that the guarantees must be abolished, while making the Turkish Cypriots more anxious than ever over disconnecting themselves from Turkey’s internal strife.

The paper stresses that President Anastasiades is pleased with what has been agreed so far, which he considers to be an improvement on the Annan plan. He is particularly happy with the four freedoms agreed to, namely that people will be able to own property, reside, work and travel freely all over the island, as well as with the 4:1 agreement whereby for a Turk to acquire Cypriot citizenship, a further four Greeks must also acquire citizenship. The population ratio has been agreed at 78.5% Greek Cypriots to 21.5% Turkish Cypriots, or 803,000 to 220,000, making the total population of Cypriot citizens on day one at 1,023,000.

Read here what has been already agreed, according to Politis.

Kerry optimistic about Cyprus reunification

Peace is within reach in Cyprus, US Secretary of State John Kerry said yesterday (3 December) as he watched children from both sides of the divided island play basketball together.

Anastasiades says more time needed for Cyprus solution

President Nicos Anastasiades addressed parliament yesterday (11 February) to try to convince Cypriots that a UN-backed peace deal is possible for the divided island, in a rare move by a Greek Cypriot leader.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 despite repeated efforts under the auspices of the UN to bring the leaders of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities to the negotiating table.

Hopes for reunification were raised in 2002, when then-UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan suggested a two-part federation with a rotating presidency.

In an April 2004 referendum, the Greek Cypriots rejected - and the Turkish Cypriots approved - a UN-sponsored unity plan. The plan's failure disappointed EU officials, who had agreed to allow Cyprus to join the EU that year partly in the hope that doing so would encourage a solution. In May 2004, the Greek Cypriot-controlled Republic of Cyprus became a full member of the EU.

At their December 2004 summit, EU leaders agreed to open accession talks with Turkey on 3 October 2005. One of the conditions specified was for Ankara to extend a 1963 association agreement with the EU's predecessor, the European Economic Community, to the Union's 10 new member states. This group included the Greek Cypriot state, which is not recognised by Turkey.

In July 2005, Turkey signed a protocol extending its customs union to the EU-10 states, but at the same time Ankara issued a declaration saying that its signature did not mean it had recognised the Republic of Cyprus. Turkey also refused to open its ports and airports to Cyprus, as it claims the EU has fallen short of having direct trade with the unrecognised northern part of the island.

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