Today, the decades-old Cyprus conflict and the 50-year-long negotiations to resolve it have reached a historic end. This is because of the Greek Cypriot side’s inability to demonstrate the necessary political will to resolve it on the basis of a bi-communal bi-zonal federation with political equality and a new partnership. This is not an assessment made only by the Turkish Cypriot side, but also by other objective sources, among them the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, who witnessed his plan fail on account of Greek Cypriot rejection in the historic referenda of April 2004, as well as a former Greek Cypriot Foreign Minister Nicos Rolandis, who publicly stated that it was the Greek Cypriot side that rejected at least 15 UN plans for a settlement over the years.
By contrast, the Turkish Cypriot side has consistently, and with all of its energy, supported all efforts to find a fair, just and sustainable solution based on mutual respect, political equality, bi-zonality, bi-communality and a new partnership – an entirely reasonable expectation by international standards and fully consistent with the UN parameters established over decades of negotiation. In doing so, the Turkish Cypriot side has acted on the basic and internationally accepted premise that Cyprus is the common home of the Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots whose relationship is not one of majority and minority but one of two equal peoples in the island of Cyprus. This is in stark contrast to the Greek Cypriot side’s long-held claim that Cyprus is a Hellenic land in which the Turkish Cypriots, at best, are entitled to minority status.
Hence, the concrete demonstration of flexibility, conciliation and constructive approach displayed by the Turkish Cypriot side has never been reciprocated by the Greek Cypriot leadership, who, time after time proved to be hostage to popular myths that they themselves have helped to create. They employed tactics to obstruct all efforts towards reconciliation and to prolong the negotiation process to serve their own domestic political agenda – a tactic which has surfaced once again during this last phase in Crans-Montana, Switzerland.
Yet, we do not believe that this is a time to apportion blame but rather the time to face the realities on the ground. As the 50-year-long negotiation process has shown beyond doubt, the respective positions and the visions of the two sides on the resolution of the Cyprus issue are diametrically opposed and a whole new approach must be adopted particularly by the international community regarding the peaceful co-existence of the two peoples on a side-by-side basis.
For its part, the Turkish Cypriot people have faced an unjust and inhuman isolation, restrictions imposed on them at the instigation of the Greek Cypriot side, which hamper our fundamental human rights. If the healing process will start in Cyprus, it must begin with the removal of these unwarranted and undeserved restrictions which serve no other purpose than embitter the relationship between the two peoples and further deepen the lack of trust and confidence.
Geography compels the two politically equal peoples of Cyprus to be good neighbours and find mutual accommodation to their problems. All efforts to do this through a federal partnership having failed, we must now direct our efforts to finding new and realistic ways to promote mutual respect and peaceful co-existence as good neighbours. This is both our vision and responsibility to future generations.