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Divided Cyprus: Thinking outside the box

16 March 2014

Alongside the re-launch of the Cyprus negotiations, the International Crisis Group has published another report on the Cyprus problem and makes some very interesting recommendations as regards the solution.

It appears that the group is not hopeful of a solution based on a Federal Cyprus, noting that over four decades, the talks have failed and have only served to entrench the current status quo.

The report says that there is a great deal public scepticism about the current talks, given that it took five months just to get agreement on a joint statement which was the precursor to the talks.

Confidence building measures, such as the return of Maras/Varosha have not been accepted by the Turkish Cypriot government and the issues of hydrocarbons, it says, has been something of a distraction.

Given that the current spit between north and south Cyprus has been lasting and peaceful and that there is fear on both sides that a federal solution could disturb that peace, the report states that some stakeholders on both sides of the divide have, in private, become increasingly receptive to the idea of a new framework for discussions.

The report suggests that all sides should consider the idea of complete independence for the Turkish Cypriots; that theirs should be an independent state recognised by the international community and a become a member of the EU.

Since the South is a member of the EU, a great deal would need to be offered to them to gain their approval of TRNC membership of the EU in its own right. This option would require the return of territories such as Varosha, the removal of all or most of the Turkish troops from the North, allow Greek Cypriots to purchase property in the North and give full control to the Greek Cypriots of marine territory on the south of the island proven to be holding hydrocarbon deposits.

The arguments in favour of this solution state that it would end the uncertainty as regards the future of the whole island, remove some of the blocks to Turkey’s entry into the EU. It would end the economic isolation of the Turkish Cypriots and enable Greek Cypriots to market natural gas in a more economically viable way.

The report goes on to outline what kind of groundwork needs to be done to achieve this end.

For the full text click here

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