The Cyprus problem has its roots in the violation of the fundamental right to self-determination of the Cypriot people as recognised by article 1(2) of the UN charter which led to the establishment of a Cypriot state lacking democratic legitimacy in 1960. The subsequent illegal invasion of 1974 which forcefully evicted thousands of people from their homes and the on-going occupation of the North of the island has converted the issue to one of illegal invasion and occupation of a member-state of the E.U. However, the fact that a solution is being sought on the basis of the Bizonal-Bicommunal Federation model, without the assent of the population, goes on to exacerbate the democratic deficits that revolve around the island’s fate which has been in fact decided in executive offices and Turkish military councils. A state constituted on ethic segregation and discrimination, a state built on anti-democratic procedures and government and which ignores the popular will of its population, is bound to fail, proved by the failure of the 1960 constitution to maintain a population content with the state model imposed by foreign powers.
This consequently raises the question as to what characteristics do we want our future state to encompass in order to ensure its longevity and functionality. The question should not be “what solution favours and preserves the interests of the Greek majority or the interests of the Muslim minority”, but instead should be “what solution preserves and promotes justice, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respects the historical, cultural and social facts which exist in Cyprus.”
The proposed solution for the past 40 years, and the platform on which the negotiations are based, has been a model of Bizonal- Bicommunal Federation with “political equality” for the two so-called “communities”. A primary defect of this solution is the fact that it has never been based on the will of the Cypriot population and thus the Cypriot government does not have the popular mandate to pursue this model, something highlighted by the rejection of the Anan plan in 2004. The Cypriot population, as with the 1960 constitution, has never been asked if it accepts this model and has never given its consent to the Cypriot government to pursue such a “solution”.
Moreover, in contrast with what a solution should aim for, as aforementioned, a Bizonal Bicommunal Federation does in fact serve the interests of one party, and specifically the interests of Turkey, whose strategic aim since 1956 is this specific solution that creates a federation with two racially based zones. The Greek politicians have accepted this model in 1977, citing realism and Turkey’s superiority of bargaining power after the 1974 invasion, reflecting the fact that such a solution is unfavourable for the Greek population of the island.
Nevertheless, a Bizonal Bicommunal Federation, is arguably not only unjust and burdensome for the Greeks, but also unjust and dysfunctional for the Cypriot population as a whole, and in one view, mere wishful thinking. How can anyone believe that a future constitution which will be based on ethnic segregation, not only political and social as in the 1960 constitution, but also geographical, is what our state should aim for? How can anyone deny the democratic principle of one person-one vote in order to appease the demands of any group within the state? How can a state-member of the E.U, deny of its citizens the fundamental right to freedom of establishment within its territory and deny the right to property, while at the same time legitimizing the unlawful, forceful eviction of Cypriots from their property resulting from the Turkish invasion?
Not only does a Bizonal-Bicommunal Federation create an anti-democratic, anachronistic apartheid-state, but also constitutes the platform for a future secession of the “Turkish Cypriot constituent state”, which will satisfy the requisite “Montevideo criteria” for statehood (permanent population, defined territory, government and capacity to enter into relations with the other states). Any intra-communal tension may lead to a situation similar to former Yugoslavia, where the right to secession, while denied under international law, came to be accepted in those specific situations which were rooted in the relative autonomy of the federal territories of Yugoslavia and the geographical division of different ethnic groups within the federal state.
So what state model is appropriate for Cyprus? Firstly, a state which preserves the equality of its citizens as individuals and not as ethnic groups. A state based on meritocracy, not one which judges its citizens on religious or racial criteria. Therefore not a bicommunal state. Secondly, a state where people are free to live anywhere in its sovereign territory, where every cultural, religious or ethnic group is free to socialise, live close by and come to accept the identity of one another. Therefore, bi-zonality should by rejected. Thirdly, a state which encompasses permanence and stability, thus federalism is rejected as it is likely to satisfy Turkey’s aims of secession. And lastly, a state which will be firmly based on the will of its people, a state which will reflect, for the first time, the exercise of right to self-determination of Cypriots as a whole and will give the opportunity to its citizens to decide how they will be governed internally as well as externally on the international plane in the future.
The only viable solution to the Cyprus problem, is a unified, single state, based on the aforementioned principles, principles which are vital to constituting a state compliant with human rights, international law and democracy. Otherwise, accepting the despicable status quo or supporting the racist Bizonal-Bicommunal Federation makes us accomplices to the creation of a new unjust, discriminatory state which offends our dignity as people and clouds the future of this tortured island as well as clearly violate the principles upon which the European Union is founded.
The vital question however, still remains. Why do the Cypriot governments and the so-called leaders of the pseudo-state refuse to alter the basis of the negotiations and strive to achieve a unified-single state? For a start, the so-called leader of the pseudo-state does not adequately represent what the Muslim population of the island wants and is practically a muppet of Ankara, promoting Turkey’s aims and demands. Turkey neo-Ottoman policy aims towards the creation of a Turkish protectorate in South-East Mediterranean sea and a Bizonal Bicommunal Federation is the vehicle which satisfies those demands and disguises them with the cloak of legality. Therefore, it should be stressed that the only way that intercommunal talks can realistically lead to a just solution is if the Turkish Cypriots escape Turkey’s custody, recognise the Republic of Cyprus as the only legal entity on the island and join our struggle to end the occupation.
Since this has proved unlikely to happen, the only way to promote a viable and just solution for Cyprus is to tackle Turkey’s aims and force Turkey to realise that the cost of intervening in Cyprus, continuing to occupy 37% of the island and demanding a Bizonal-Bicommunal Federation, is greater than the benefits of demanding such a solution or continuing to illegally occupy the North of the island. Therefore, what the Republic of Cyprus should look for is the upgrading and reinforcement of the force multipliers of the state, including its military forces, its exploitation of natural resources and crucially the development of alliances with states through common interests, an example of which is the joint exploration of the natural gas resources of the island with a view to export it to Europe. With astute diplomacy on behalf of the Republic, with our future membership in various regional and international security organisations and by insisting on the enforcement of the international law and the protection of human rights for all the citizens of Cyprus, we can alter our status as the weak, passive state which appeases Turkey’s imperialistic aims, and become a state that through its improved geopolitical and geostrategic role can exert pressure, along with its allies, on Turkey and nullify its aims for Cyprus, therefore allowing for a democratic solution to be reached.
Vice President of Metopo UK (Cypriot Students’ Front UK)