Friday, 27 January 2012
Cyprus talks: Catastrofias strikes again
Christofias said before he went to New York that he would not agree to a timetable or road map for the talks, nor would he accept an international conference being called to finalise any deal on the Cyprus problem before there is an agreement on the internal aspects of a settlement.
Both the roadmap and international conference ideas are Turkey’s. An expedited process with a roadmap and a clear end point would allow Turkey to stifle the talks and bring about their curtailment without agreement, after which Turkey would be able to declare that reunification is no longer possible and that the ‘TRNC’ must now be recognised; while Turkey’s demand for an international conference – similar to Burgenstock in 2004 – is made in the belief that at such a conference the Greek side will have to accept another Annan plan or otherwise find itself branded intransigent, which would, again, provide Turkey with the excuse to say reunification is not feasible and recognition for the pseudo-state must follow.
So, how did Christofias do in his mission to convince the UN secretary general not to announce a timetable for the process or an international conference? Well, in what can only be described as a debacle, the president came away from the summit having consented – wittingly or unwittingly – to both a timetable/roadmap and an international conference.
Thus, Ban announced that for the next two months, there will be an attempt to achieve what has not been achieved in the last four years of talks – namely, agreement on the internal aspects of the Cyprus problem, mostly to do with property, citizenship (i.e. the Turkish settlers) and governance; and that, in consultation with the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides, the UN secretary general’s special representative on the island, Alexander Downer, will then recommend or not the holding of an international conference, to put the finishing touches to a Cyprus settlement.
Now, Christofias is pretending that an international conference – the end game – will only be activated with the agreement of the Greek Cypriot side, after it’s satisfied that the internal aspects of the Cyprus problem have been resolved.
But he’s fooling no one. It’s clear that the UN bureaucracy, backed by the UK and the US on the Security Council, likes the Turkish idea of an expedited process aimed at closing the Cyprus problem once and for all, and in which case it’s easy to predict what’s going to happen next.
The Turkish side will continue to put forward proposals unacceptable to the Greek side; and that when Christofias tells Downer that there has been no agreement on internal issues and he can’t consent to an international conference, Downer will tell him: well, that means I’ll have to tell the secretary general and the Security Council that there is no longer any point in this procedure; or he will say to Christofias: my judgement is that there has been sufficient progress and that an international conference is justified.
Christofias will then be faced with the dilemma of accepting that the talks have collapsed – leaving Turkey to pursue recognition of the pseudo-state; or he will have to go along with an international conference, in which Cyprus will be up against Turkey, the UK, US, EU and UN, as they try to tie up the Cyprus problem with another Annan plan, Greek Cypriot resistance to which will be met with threats of ending the UN’s involvement in Cyprus – including the withdrawal of the UN peacekeepers from the island – and the upgrading of the occupation regime.