Showing posts tagged as "turkey"

Showing posts tagged turkey

17 Apr
The Syrian “guests” of Istanbul | Tanya Talaga
They beg on the street corners with their Syrian passports open so passersby don’t confuse them with Roma.
Others crowd the congested, winding streets of Istanbul in their luxury cars with Syrian license plates.
Outside of the 220,000 refugees from Syria living in temporary camps lining the southern border, no one knows exactly how many displaced Syrians are living inside Turkey’s major cities, but estimates place the number at between 500,000 and 1 million people.
Syrian refugee family in Turkey ‘trying to leave this miserable life’
They can be found all over Istanbul, a sprawling metropolis of more than 14 million.
FULL ARTICLE (The Toronto Star)
Photo: ultimcodex/flickr

The Syrian “guests” of Istanbul | Tanya Talaga

They beg on the street corners with their Syrian passports open so passersby don’t confuse them with Roma.

Others crowd the congested, winding streets of Istanbul in their luxury cars with Syrian license plates.

Outside of the 220,000 refugees from Syria living in temporary camps lining the southern border, no one knows exactly how many displaced Syrians are living inside Turkey’s major cities, but estimates place the number at between 500,000 and 1 million people.

Syrian refugee family in Turkey ‘trying to leave this miserable life’

They can be found all over Istanbul, a sprawling metropolis of more than 14 million.

FULL ARTICLE (The Toronto Star)

Photo: ultimcodex/flickr

4 Apr
Fresh Thinking Needed on Cyprus | Hugh Pope and Scott Malcomson
A new round of talks has begun in Cyprus and the key parties seem eager to reach a settlement. However, the official goal — a bizonal, bicommunal federation — has stymied negotiators for decades. It is possible that the time has come to consider a mutually agreed separation, within the European Union, of the Greek and Turkish parts of the island.
The closest the two sides have come to an agreement on federal reunification was a decade ago under the Annan Plan, named after United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan. It built on decades of work and won the support of the UN, EU, United States, Turkey, and even Greece. Indeed, any federal deal will have to look pretty much like the one hammered out in those years of intense negotiations.
Yet the reality of public sentiment bit back. 76 percent of Greek Cypriots said no to this plan at referendum. As Annan wrote to the Security Council afterwards, “what was rejected was the [federal] solution itself rather than a mere blueprint.”
Today the two sides — whose infrastructure and administrative systems are almost completely separate — are, if anything, further apart. The numbers of people crossing the border have fallen, while polls show weakening support for a federal outcome. In 2004, the Turkish Cypriot side supported the Annan Plan with 65 percent of the vote. But in 2010, they firmly voted back to power a leader whose whole career has been dedicated to a two-state settlement. 
Miracles may happen — and there are many on the island who remain desperate for a settlement — but my judgment is that any federal deal will have an even tougher time succeeding now.
Fresh thinking is needed.The two sides should broaden the agenda alongside the well-worn process of UN-hosted talks between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot negotiators.
One idea that should be fully explored is what the terms might be if Greek Cypriots — the majority of the island’s population — were to offer Turkish Cypriots citizens full independence and fully support them to become members of the European Union. 
Such a deal would have to be agreed to by Greek Cypriots, voluntarily and through a referendum. This will be hard. Greek Cypriot public opinion still, in theory, absolutely rejects any partition. But even senior Greek Cypriot officials agree in private — especially around the dinner tables of business leaders seeking a way out of Cyprus’s crushing banking crisis of 2013 — that there is an increasingly urgent need for a new way forward for the economy and for society.
There is also a growing drumbeat of expert opinion urging Greek Cypriots to consider outcomes beyond the traditional federal goal, which has become so discredited that few on Cyprus are paying much attention to the new talks. International Crisis Group has just published Divided Cyprus: Coming to Terms on an Imperfect Reality, while the U .S. Congressional Research Service concluded last year that “a ‘two-state’ solution seems to have become a more prominent part of the Turkish Cypriot/Turkey rhetoric and unless a dramatic breakthrough occurs early in the negotiations… that reality may gain more momentum.”
Polls show that key parts of what Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots really want can look surprisingly similar. The Greek Cypriots have long wanted a solution securely embedded in European values and structures. That is what Turkish Cypriots say they want too: to become part of the European Union, not part of Turkey, even if they do wish that, in extremis, Turkey would protect their small community. The European part is crucial.
This can only happen with voluntary Greek Cypriot agreement, something that will have to be persuasively won by Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots. They will need to offer convincing terms: withdraw all or almost all of Turkey’s 30,000 troops on the island; end the demand to continue the 1960s “guarantorship” so hated by Greek Cypriots; guarantee compensation of Greek Cypriots for the two-thirds of private property in the north that is owned by them; return the ghost resort of Varosha to its original owners; and pull back to hold 29 percent or less of the island. 
After what will necessarily be a multi-year transition, this will also produce the European solution that Greek Cypriots so often say they want. The two sides will share the same basic legal norms and regulations, the same currency, and the same visa regime. Secure and confident in their new sovereign rights, the Turkish Cypriot side will likely waive the un-European demand for “derogations,” or limits on property purchases by Greek Cypriots in the new entity. 
Nobody is completely right on Cyprus: all parties share responsibility for the frozen conflict on the island. At the end of the day, an independent Turkish Cypriot state within the EU is not rewarding one side or another. Europe will doubtless flinch at accepting a small new Turkish, Muslim state in its midst. 
But Europe helped create this situation, since Brussels breaking its own rules contributed to the clumsy 2004 accession of the disunited island to the EU. 
Moreover, at least 100,000 of the 170,000 Turkish Cypriots are already EU citizens through their Republic of Cyprus passports.
Europe will also be among those who gain from resolving a dispute that has for four decades burdened so many local and regional processes, not least the long-hamstrung relationship between the EU and NATO, and the new question of how the countries of the East Mediterranean can most quickly, profitably and safely exploit new offshore natural gas reserves. This is not partition: it is reunifying Cyprus within the EU.
crisisgroup.org
Photo: UN Geneva/Flickr

Fresh Thinking Needed on Cyprus | Hugh Pope and Scott Malcomson

A new round of talks has begun in Cyprus and the key parties seem eager to reach a settlement. However, the official goal — a bizonal, bicommunal federation — has stymied negotiators for decades. It is possible that the time has come to consider a mutually agreed separation, within the European Union, of the Greek and Turkish parts of the island.

The closest the two sides have come to an agreement on federal reunification was a decade ago under the Annan Plan, named after United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan. It built on decades of work and won the support of the UN, EU, United States, Turkey, and even Greece. Indeed, any federal deal will have to look pretty much like the one hammered out in those years of intense negotiations.

Yet the reality of public sentiment bit back. 76 percent of Greek Cypriots said no to this plan at referendum. As Annan wrote to the Security Council afterwards, “what was rejected was the [federal] solution itself rather than a mere blueprint.”

Today the two sides — whose infrastructure and administrative systems are almost completely separate — are, if anything, further apart. The numbers of people crossing the border have fallen, while polls show weakening support for a federal outcome. In 2004, the Turkish Cypriot side supported the Annan Plan with 65 percent of the vote. But in 2010, they firmly voted back to power a leader whose whole career has been dedicated to a two-state settlement. 

Miracles may happen — and there are many on the island who remain desperate for a settlement — but my judgment is that any federal deal will have an even tougher time succeeding now.

Fresh thinking is needed.The two sides should broaden the agenda alongside the well-worn process of UN-hosted talks between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot negotiators.

One idea that should be fully explored is what the terms might be if Greek Cypriots — the majority of the island’s population — were to offer Turkish Cypriots citizens full independence and fully support them to become members of the European Union. 

Such a deal would have to be agreed to by Greek Cypriots, voluntarily and through a referendum. This will be hard. Greek Cypriot public opinion still, in theory, absolutely rejects any partition. But even senior Greek Cypriot officials agree in private — especially around the dinner tables of business leaders seeking a way out of Cyprus’s crushing banking crisis of 2013 — that there is an increasingly urgent need for a new way forward for the economy and for society.

There is also a growing drumbeat of expert opinion urging Greek Cypriots to consider outcomes beyond the traditional federal goal, which has become so discredited that few on Cyprus are paying much attention to the new talks. International Crisis Group has just published Divided Cyprus: Coming to Terms on an Imperfect Reality, while the U .S. Congressional Research Service concluded last year that “a ‘two-state’ solution seems to have become a more prominent part of the Turkish Cypriot/Turkey rhetoric and unless a dramatic breakthrough occurs early in the negotiations… that reality may gain more momentum.”

Polls show that key parts of what Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots really want can look surprisingly similar. The Greek Cypriots have long wanted a solution securely embedded in European values and structures. That is what Turkish Cypriots say they want too: to become part of the European Union, not part of Turkey, even if they do wish that, in extremis, Turkey would protect their small community. The European part is crucial.

This can only happen with voluntary Greek Cypriot agreement, something that will have to be persuasively won by Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots. They will need to offer convincing terms: withdraw all or almost all of Turkey’s 30,000 troops on the island; end the demand to continue the 1960s “guarantorship” so hated by Greek Cypriots; guarantee compensation of Greek Cypriots for the two-thirds of private property in the north that is owned by them; return the ghost resort of Varosha to its original owners; and pull back to hold 29 percent or less of the island. 

After what will necessarily be a multi-year transition, this will also produce the European solution that Greek Cypriots so often say they want. The two sides will share the same basic legal norms and regulations, the same currency, and the same visa regime. Secure and confident in their new sovereign rights, the Turkish Cypriot side will likely waive the un-European demand for “derogations,” or limits on property purchases by Greek Cypriots in the new entity. 

Nobody is completely right on Cyprus: all parties share responsibility for the frozen conflict on the island. At the end of the day, an independent Turkish Cypriot state within the EU is not rewarding one side or another. Europe will doubtless flinch at accepting a small new Turkish, Muslim state in its midst. 

But Europe helped create this situation, since Brussels breaking its own rules contributed to the clumsy 2004 accession of the disunited island to the EU. 

Moreover, at least 100,000 of the 170,000 Turkish Cypriots are already EU citizens through their Republic of Cyprus passports.

Europe will also be among those who gain from resolving a dispute that has for four decades burdened so many local and regional processes, not least the long-hamstrung relationship between the EU and NATO, and the new question of how the countries of the East Mediterranean can most quickly, profitably and safely exploit new offshore natural gas reserves. This is not partition: it is reunifying Cyprus within the EU.

crisisgroup.org

Photo: UN Geneva/Flickr

1 Apr
Turkey’s Controversial Prime Minister Emboldened By Local Elections | Sophia Jones
On Sunday night, well before the results of local elections here came in, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan stood in front of thousands of cheering supporters in the capital, thanked God for his party’s win, and told the crowd that it delivered an “Ottoman slap” to the opposition.
Turks saw their votes for local officials as a referendum on the controversial leader, even though Erdogan’s name was nowhere on the ballot. And despite recent anti-government protests and a brewing corruption scandal, Erdogan’s prediction was right: His Islamist-leaning Justice and Development Party, or AKP, captured the most votes.
The win comes as a huge blow to Turks who complain that Erdogan has become increasingly authoritarian during his 11-year rule, cracking down on media, banning YouTube and Twitter, and lashing out at anyone who disagrees with him. Analysts suggest that Sunday’s electoral win is likely to boost Erdogan’s confidence in his political fortunes as he eyes a possible run in this summer’s presidential election.
FULL ARTICLE (The Huffington Post)
Photo: boublis/flickr

Turkey’s Controversial Prime Minister Emboldened By Local Elections | Sophia Jones

On Sunday night, well before the results of local elections here came in, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan stood in front of thousands of cheering supporters in the capital, thanked God for his party’s win, and told the crowd that it delivered an “Ottoman slap” to the opposition.

Turks saw their votes for local officials as a referendum on the controversial leader, even though Erdogan’s name was nowhere on the ballot. And despite recent anti-government protests and a brewing corruption scandal, Erdogan’s prediction was right: His Islamist-leaning Justice and Development Party, or AKP, captured the most votes.

The win comes as a huge blow to Turks who complain that Erdogan has become increasingly authoritarian during his 11-year rule, cracking down on media, banning YouTube and Twitter, and lashing out at anyone who disagrees with him. Analysts suggest that Sunday’s electoral win is likely to boost Erdogan’s confidence in his political fortunes as he eyes a possible run in this summer’s presidential election.

FULL ARTICLE (The Huffington Post)

Photo: boublis/flickr

28 Mar
TURKEY’S AMBITIONS AS A RISING DONOR – ANALYSIS | Heba Aly
Today, around the same number of Syrians are being hosted in Turkey - more than 220,000 of them in state-of-the art refugee camps.
In Indonesia, Turkey is now associated with the warm bread it distributed following the 2004 tsunami, and in Somalia, it is linked to some of the first humanitarian aid provided during the 2011 famine.
From humble beginnings, Turkey is maturing into a major player in international humanitarian aid. In 2012, the last year for which there are complete statistics, Turkey became the world’s fourth largest government donor of humanitarian aid and the largest non-Western provider of development assistance outside the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC).
FULL ARTICLE (IRIN)
Photo:  İHH İnsani Yardım Vakfı/TURKEY/flickr

TURKEY’S AMBITIONS AS A RISING DONOR – ANALYSIS | Heba Aly

Today, around the same number of Syrians are being hosted in Turkey - more than 220,000 of them in state-of-the art refugee camps.

In Indonesia, Turkey is now associated with the warm bread it distributed following the 2004 tsunami, and in Somalia, it is linked to some of the first humanitarian aid provided during the 2011 famine.

From humble beginnings, Turkey is maturing into a major player in international humanitarian aid. In 2012, the last year for which there are complete statistics, Turkey became the world’s fourth largest government donor of humanitarian aid and the largest non-Western provider of development assistance outside the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC).

FULL ARTICLE (IRIN)

Photo:  İHH İnsani Yardım Vakfı/TURKEY/flickr

27 Mar
Syrian Refugees Give Up Hope of Returning Home | Ayla Albayrak and Joe Parkinson
In the months after Kholood Aloksh walked for eight days to flee the violence engulfing her hometown of Houla, she consoled herself with dreams of a rapid return to Syria and the restart of her disrupted studies.
Two years later, 22-year-old Ms. Aloksh is still in Turkey with her six siblings and has lost hope of going back. Studying civil engineering on a government scholarship in a Turkish university, she is settling into a new life as a long-term exile.
“Now I know I must concentrate on building my future in Turkey,” Ms. Aloksh said, her fellow students buzzing around the university canteen in the city of Gaziantep, close to Turkey’s Syrian border. “The war can continue for even a decade.”
As Syria’s civil war enters its fourth year, a growing number of the 800,000 Syrians in Turkey and across the region are concluding there may be no future in their homeland. That is aggravating a policy problem for Turkey and neighboring states, and underscoring how the conflict is reshaping the Middle East in ways that may be irreversible.
FULL ARTICLE (Wall Street Journal)
Photo: İHH İnsani Yardım Vakfı/TURKEY/flickr

Syrian Refugees Give Up Hope of Returning Home | Ayla Albayrak and Joe Parkinson

In the months after Kholood Aloksh walked for eight days to flee the violence engulfing her hometown of Houla, she consoled herself with dreams of a rapid return to Syria and the restart of her disrupted studies.

Two years later, 22-year-old Ms. Aloksh is still in Turkey with her six siblings and has lost hope of going back. Studying civil engineering on a government scholarship in a Turkish university, she is settling into a new life as a long-term exile.

“Now I know I must concentrate on building my future in Turkey,” Ms. Aloksh said, her fellow students buzzing around the university canteen in the city of Gaziantep, close to Turkey’s Syrian border. “The war can continue for even a decade.”

As Syria’s civil war enters its fourth year, a growing number of the 800,000 Syrians in Turkey and across the region are concluding there may be no future in their homeland. That is aggravating a policy problem for Turkey and neighboring states, and underscoring how the conflict is reshaping the Middle East in ways that may be irreversible.

FULL ARTICLE (Wall Street Journal)

Photo: İHH İnsani Yardım Vakfı/TURKEY/flickr

26 Mar
The Impact of Turkey’s Takedown of a Syrian Fighter Jet | Karen Leigh
On Sunday, the Turkish army shot down a Syrian government fighter jet that it said had strayed across the border despite numerous warnings. “Our F-16s went up in the air and shot that plane down. Why? Because if you violate my air space, then from now on, our slap will be hard,” Erdogan said later, at a campaign rally held in advance of next week’s local elections.
Syrian state media said its planes had been pursuing rebel targets near the border.
Though analysts have called it an escalation, it’s not the first time Turkey’s military has been drawn into the conflict next door. Syria shot down a Turkish plane in 2012, and that autumn, Turkey opened fire on Syrian government positions after a Turkish border town was shelled, killing five civilians.
Syria Deeply asked Didem Aykel Collinsworth, Turkey analyst at the International Crisis Group, and Soli Özel, a political scientist and professor at Istanbul’s Bilgi University, to weigh in on the impact of this week’s events.
FULL INTERVIEW (Syria Deeply)
Photo: Anhedral/flickr

The Impact of Turkey’s Takedown of a Syrian Fighter Jet | Karen Leigh

On Sunday, the Turkish army shot down a Syrian government fighter jet that it said had strayed across the border despite numerous warnings. “Our F-16s went up in the air and shot that plane down. Why? Because if you violate my air space, then from now on, our slap will be hard,” Erdogan said later, at a campaign rally held in advance of next week’s local elections.

Syrian state media said its planes had been pursuing rebel targets near the border.

Though analysts have called it an escalation, it’s not the first time Turkey’s military has been drawn into the conflict next door. Syria shot down a Turkish plane in 2012, and that autumn, Turkey opened fire on Syrian government positions after a Turkish border town was shelled, killing five civilians.

Syria Deeply asked Didem Aykel Collinsworth, Turkey analyst at the International Crisis Group, and Soli Özel, a political scientist and professor at Istanbul’s Bilgi University, to weigh in on the impact of this week’s events.

FULL INTERVIEW (Syria Deeply)

Photo: Anhedral/flickr

24 Mar
Turkey’s Effort to Block Twitter Falters |  Emre Peker and Joe Parkinson
Embattled Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan seemed on Friday to have failed in an attempt to block Twitter Inc. TWTR +1.60%  in Turkey, as countless Turks—including his longtime ally, President Abdullah Gul —bypassed the ban to criticize the government, just nine days before local elections.
Twitter use in Turkey spiked despite the telecommunications regulator’s steps late Thursday to block access to the microblogging site, with users tapping private servers outside the country to circumvent the blackout.
FULL ARTICLE (Wall Street Journal)
Photo: Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr

Turkey’s Effort to Block Twitter Falters |  Emre Peker and Joe Parkinson

Embattled Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan seemed on Friday to have failed in an attempt to block Twitter Inc. TWTR +1.60%  in Turkey, as countless Turks—including his longtime ally, President Abdullah Gul —bypassed the ban to criticize the government, just nine days before local elections.

Twitter use in Turkey spiked despite the telecommunications regulator’s steps late Thursday to block access to the microblogging site, with users tapping private servers outside the country to circumvent the blackout.

FULL ARTICLE (Wall Street Journal)

Photo: Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr

14 Mar
Divided Cyprus: Coming to Terms on an Imperfect Reality
Europe Report No. 229 | 14 Mar 2014
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Talks have begun – yet again – on a settlement for divided Cyprus. To avoid another failed effort at a federation, new ideas are needed. The basic blockage is that Greek and Turkish Cypriots have separate lives, languages and infrastructure and fear a unified new administration would be more threatening than the peaceful status quo. In debate and new backstage diplomacy, they and the international community should test a route to a different unity, including through giving Turkish Cypriots full independence and EU membership. Thinking outside the box may persuade the sides they prefer a federation, not least because the smaller Turkish Cypriot state would be so weak. But a realistic new approach could also be the best way to take advantage of Turkey’s new political will for a settlement, Greek Cypriots’ need for a dignified escape from economic trouble and Turkish Cypriots’ wish to be both in the EU and in charge of their own affairs.
Legitimising Turkish Cypriot self-determination has been taboo outside the Turkish Cypriot entity and its backers in Turkey. The Greek Cypriot majority that took exclusive control of the internationally-recognised Republic of Cyprus in 1964 remains utterly opposed in public to formal partition. Its position is backed by UN Security Council resolutions and Cyprus’s network of allies, notably the EU, especially because of Turkey’s 1974 invasion and the subsequent physical separation of the communities. Yet, in five rounds of mainly UN-facilitated negotiations over four decades, the sides have been unable to agree to reunify Cyprus according to the official parameters of a bizonal, bicommunal federation. Thousands of meetings in dozens of formats have resulted only in a glacial, incomplete normalisation of the de facto partition between the Greek Cypriot majority in the south and the Turkish Cypriots in the north.
Officials involved in the fresh round of talks since February 2014 say they are aiming for the lightest federation yet imagined. The chief Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot negotiators have visited Ankara and Athens, opening an important new line of communication. But ill omens abound. Talks on just the opening statement dragged on for five months. Public scepticism is high. Suggested confidence-building measures, rarely achieved through negotiation anyway, have fallen flat. Natural gas discoveries south of the island are still minor and have done more to distract the sides than to unify them. Turkey and Greece, the outside powers with the greatest ability to help reach a deal, support the talks in principle, but their leaders have done little of the public diplomacy outreach that might make them likelier to succeed.
The status quo has proved durable and peaceful and is constantly improving. Nobody has been killed on the Green Line dividing the island since 1996. The main day-to-day problem is not so much the division of the island, but the non-negotiated status of the de facto partition. In private, business leaders on both sides and diplomats on all sides appear increasingly interested in a new framework for discussion. Turkish Cypriots voted in 2010 for a leader who openly favours maximum independence for their community. Some Greek Cypriots are privately ready to consider this option, although anger at the injustices of the Turkish invasion and strong nationalist rhetoric still rule the public sphere.
This report argues that the parties should informally consider the option of mutually agreed independence for the Turkish Cypriots within the EU. The feasibility of such an option depends on EU membership procedures that in this case would depend on the voluntary agreement of the Greek Cypriots, whose state is already a member, so has veto rights over a new candidate. To win that voluntary agreement, Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots would have to offer much: to return long-occupied territory like the ghost beach resort near Famagusta; pull back all or almost all of Turkey’s occupation troops; give up the international guarantees that accompanied the island’s independence in 1960; offer guaranteed compensation within an overall deal on property that both sides still own in each other’s territory; drop demands for derogations from EU law that would block post-settlement Greek Cypriot property purchases in any future Turkish Cypriot state; and acknowledge full Greek Cypriot control of territorial waters south of the island that have proven natural gas deposits.
The existing Republic of Cyprus and a new Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus side by side in the EU might provide much of what Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots actually want. There would be no federal government with cumbersome ethnic quotas that might anyway be struck down by the European Court of Human Rights. The prickly issue of the two thirds of north Cypriot properties owned by Greek Cypriots would become clearer and easier to resolve. If independent, the Turkish Cypriot entity would probably be willing to place its own limits on new Turkish “settlers” from the mainland. Turkey and Turkish Cypriots would likely have a defence arrangement, as is possible within the EU. And with a Cyprus settlement, the path of Turkey’s own EU accession process would be open again.
Without a settlement, the frictions of the non-negotiated partition will simply continue. Turkey’s EU relationship will stay blocked and the EU and NATO will remain unable to cooperate formally, due to diplomatic duelling between the Republic of Cyprus and Turkey, respectively members in only one of those organisations. Turkish Cypriots will live on in unjustified isolation. And Greek Cypriots will suffer a deeper economic depression, longer deprivation of property rights, costly obstacles in the way of natural gas development, diminishing leverage over Turkey and, perhaps worst of all, indefinite uncertainty.
RECOMMENDATIONS
To leaders of the communities in Cyprus and the governments of Turkey and Greece:
1.  Encourage more open debate on all forms of a Cyprus settlement, especially an independent Turkish Cypriot state in the EU.
2.  Pursue without delay direct contacts between all parties, especially through sustained visits by the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot chief negotiators to Ankara and Athens.
3.  Encourage parliamentarians, business association leaders, media representatives and academics to exchange visits.
To leaders of the Greek Cypriot community:
4.  Privately explore, alongside talks on federal reunification, a full range of settlement options within the EU framework, including recognition of an independent Turkish Cypriot state.
5.  Find new ways to work with Turkish Cypriot institutions, starting with a unilateral lifting of the Republic of Cyprus’s block on Turkish Cypriot direct, tax-free trade with the EU.
To leaders of the Turkish Cypriot community:
6.  Bring the Turkish Cypriot administration and its legislation into conformity with the EU acquis communitaire (body of law).
7.  Reciprocate any Greek Cypriot normalisation of official contacts.
To the government of Turkey:
8.  Ensure a steady stream of reassuring public messages and meetings with Greek Cypriot officials and opinion leaders to persuade the Greek Cypriot community at large that Turkey seeks a fair and long-term settlement.
9.  Suspend efforts to achieve unilateral international recognition of Turkish Cypriot institutions and focus on privately exploring terms with Greek Cypriots for a full range of settlement options, including an independent Turkish Cypriot state within the EU.
10.  Unilaterally extend Turkey’s EU customs union to Cyprus unilaterally by ratifying the Additional Protocol of the Ankara Agreement, thus normalising trade with Greek Cypriots and opening the half of Turkey’s EU negotiating chapters blocked over this issue.
To the government of Greece:
11.  Engage with Ankara to underline Greek Cypriot sincerity in seeking a deal and to outline how Turkey could use new public outreach to Greek Cypriots to advance a settlement.
To the UN, U.S., UK and the wider international community:
12.  Support talks on a settlement between the two communities with the sustained wider participation of representatives of Turkey and Greece.
13.  The EU should prepare to inform the sides, if asked, about how alternative settlements might fit into EU norms, including an independent Turkish Cypriot state within the organisation.
14.  Keep the Cyprus agenda open to all forms of settlement that all sides can agree to, and offer to pass messages about and arbitrate on outstanding differences between the parties.
FULL REPORT
Photo: khowaga1/flickr

Divided Cyprus: Coming to Terms on an Imperfect Reality

Europe Report No. 229 | 14 Mar 2014

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Talks have begun – yet again – on a settlement for divided Cyprus. To avoid another failed effort at a federation, new ideas are needed. The basic blockage is that Greek and Turkish Cypriots have separate lives, languages and infrastructure and fear a unified new administration would be more threatening than the peaceful status quo. In debate and new backstage diplomacy, they and the international community should test a route to a different unity, including through giving Turkish Cypriots full independence and EU membership. Thinking outside the box may persuade the sides they prefer a federation, not least because the smaller Turkish Cypriot state would be so weak. But a realistic new approach could also be the best way to take advantage of Turkey’s new political will for a settlement, Greek Cypriots’ need for a dignified escape from economic trouble and Turkish Cypriots’ wish to be both in the EU and in charge of their own affairs.

Legitimising Turkish Cypriot self-determination has been taboo outside the Turkish Cypriot entity and its backers in Turkey. The Greek Cypriot majority that took exclusive control of the internationally-recognised Republic of Cyprus in 1964 remains utterly opposed in public to formal partition. Its position is backed by UN Security Council resolutions and Cyprus’s network of allies, notably the EU, especially because of Turkey’s 1974 invasion and the subsequent physical separation of the communities. Yet, in five rounds of mainly UN-facilitated negotiations over four decades, the sides have been unable to agree to reunify Cyprus according to the official parameters of a bizonal, bicommunal federation. Thousands of meetings in dozens of formats have resulted only in a glacial, incomplete normalisation of the de facto partition between the Greek Cypriot majority in the south and the Turkish Cypriots in the north.

Officials involved in the fresh round of talks since February 2014 say they are aiming for the lightest federation yet imagined. The chief Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot negotiators have visited Ankara and Athens, opening an important new line of communication. But ill omens abound. Talks on just the opening statement dragged on for five months. Public scepticism is high. Suggested confidence-building measures, rarely achieved through negotiation anyway, have fallen flat. Natural gas discoveries south of the island are still minor and have done more to distract the sides than to unify them. Turkey and Greece, the outside powers with the greatest ability to help reach a deal, support the talks in principle, but their leaders have done little of the public diplomacy outreach that might make them likelier to succeed.

The status quo has proved durable and peaceful and is constantly improving. Nobody has been killed on the Green Line dividing the island since 1996. The main day-to-day problem is not so much the division of the island, but the non-negotiated status of the de facto partition. In private, business leaders on both sides and diplomats on all sides appear increasingly interested in a new framework for discussion. Turkish Cypriots voted in 2010 for a leader who openly favours maximum independence for their community. Some Greek Cypriots are privately ready to consider this option, although anger at the injustices of the Turkish invasion and strong nationalist rhetoric still rule the public sphere.

This report argues that the parties should informally consider the option of mutually agreed independence for the Turkish Cypriots within the EU. The feasibility of such an option depends on EU membership procedures that in this case would depend on the voluntary agreement of the Greek Cypriots, whose state is already a member, so has veto rights over a new candidate. To win that voluntary agreement, Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots would have to offer much: to return long-occupied territory like the ghost beach resort near Famagusta; pull back all or almost all of Turkey’s occupation troops; give up the international guarantees that accompanied the island’s independence in 1960; offer guaranteed compensation within an overall deal on property that both sides still own in each other’s territory; drop demands for derogations from EU law that would block post-settlement Greek Cypriot property purchases in any future Turkish Cypriot state; and acknowledge full Greek Cypriot control of territorial waters south of the island that have proven natural gas deposits.

The existing Republic of Cyprus and a new Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus side by side in the EU might provide much of what Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots actually want. There would be no federal government with cumbersome ethnic quotas that might anyway be struck down by the European Court of Human Rights. The prickly issue of the two thirds of north Cypriot properties owned by Greek Cypriots would become clearer and easier to resolve. If independent, the Turkish Cypriot entity would probably be willing to place its own limits on new Turkish “settlers” from the mainland. Turkey and Turkish Cypriots would likely have a defence arrangement, as is possible within the EU. And with a Cyprus settlement, the path of Turkey’s own EU accession process would be open again.

Without a settlement, the frictions of the non-negotiated partition will simply continue. Turkey’s EU relationship will stay blocked and the EU and NATO will remain unable to cooperate formally, due to diplomatic duelling between the Republic of Cyprus and Turkey, respectively members in only one of those organisations. Turkish Cypriots will live on in unjustified isolation. And Greek Cypriots will suffer a deeper economic depression, longer deprivation of property rights, costly obstacles in the way of natural gas development, diminishing leverage over Turkey and, perhaps worst of all, indefinite uncertainty.

RECOMMENDATIONS

To leaders of the communities in Cyprus and the governments of Turkey and Greece:

1.  Encourage more open debate on all forms of a Cyprus settlement, especially an independent Turkish Cypriot state in the EU.

2.  Pursue without delay direct contacts between all parties, especially through sustained visits by the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot chief negotiators to Ankara and Athens.

3.  Encourage parliamentarians, business association leaders, media representatives and academics to exchange visits.

To leaders of the Greek Cypriot community:

4.  Privately explore, alongside talks on federal reunification, a full range of settlement options within the EU framework, including recognition of an independent Turkish Cypriot state.

5.  Find new ways to work with Turkish Cypriot institutions, starting with a unilateral lifting of the Republic of Cyprus’s block on Turkish Cypriot direct, tax-free trade with the EU.

To leaders of the Turkish Cypriot community:

6.  Bring the Turkish Cypriot administration and its legislation into conformity with the EU acquis communitaire (body of law).

7.  Reciprocate any Greek Cypriot normalisation of official contacts.

To the government of Turkey:

8.  Ensure a steady stream of reassuring public messages and meetings with Greek Cypriot officials and opinion leaders to persuade the Greek Cypriot community at large that Turkey seeks a fair and long-term settlement.

9.  Suspend efforts to achieve unilateral international recognition of Turkish Cypriot institutions and focus on privately exploring terms with Greek Cypriots for a full range of settlement options, including an independent Turkish Cypriot state within the EU.

10.  Unilaterally extend Turkey’s EU customs union to Cyprus unilaterally by ratifying the Additional Protocol of the Ankara Agreement, thus normalising trade with Greek Cypriots and opening the half of Turkey’s EU negotiating chapters blocked over this issue.

To the government of Greece:

11.  Engage with Ankara to underline Greek Cypriot sincerity in seeking a deal and to outline how Turkey could use new public outreach to Greek Cypriots to advance a settlement.

To the UN, U.S., UK and the wider international community:

12.  Support talks on a settlement between the two communities with the sustained wider participation of representatives of Turkey and Greece.

13.  The EU should prepare to inform the sides, if asked, about how alternative settlements might fit into EU norms, including an independent Turkish Cypriot state within the organisation.

14.  Keep the Cyprus agenda open to all forms of settlement that all sides can agree to, and offer to pass messages about and arbitrate on outstanding differences between the parties.

FULL REPORT

Photo: khowaga1/flickr

12 Feb
A Little Something New: Cyprus Talks Begin | Crisis Group
On 11 February 2014, Nicos Anastasiades and Derviş Eroğlu – respectively the leaders of Cyprus’s Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities – restarted UN-facilitated talks on finding a Cyprus settlement. Our Turkey/Cyprus Project Director Hugh Pope (@Hugh_Pope) looks at the issues involved.
What’s new in these talks?
The talks’ goal, a bizonal, bicommunal federation for Cyprus, is not new; the UN-facilitated parameters are much the same; and many of those involved in the talks are veteran negotiators. The process now started is in large part an attempt to revive the round of talks held between 2008-12, itself the fifth major round over nearly four decades.
There are, however, three new aspects that have excited some diplomatic hopes. The first is that the Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades, who was elected Republic of Cyprus president a year ago, has made clear that he is seeking a light federal structure for any new republic, with constituent entities controlling their own borders and citizens having no contact with the central federation government in their daily lives. This is a more realistic approach than that of his predecessors and is more likely to lead to a settlement with the Turkish Cypriots, who are keen to keep as much power in their constituent entity as possible.
The second novelty is that the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot chief negotiators will soon visit Ankara and Athens respectively. Especially on the Greek Cypriot-Ankara axis, a lack of trust, and an inability to see that the other side really does want a deal, has long held back progress. Crisis Group has pushed strongly for the opening of this channel of communication since our briefing Cyprus: Six Steps Towards a Settlement.
The third new aspect is that the United States has taken a leading role in pressing for this round of talks to start. U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus John Koenig played an unusually prominent role in passing messages; agreement by both sides on a joint declaration to restart talks was achieved after a rare visit to the island by Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland; and Vice-President Joseph Biden telephoned President Anastasiades to congratulate him on the new round of talks.
What’s behind the new American interest?
One reason is the increasingly active world of eastern Mediterranean energy politics.  An American company, Noble Energy, is the main operator working to extract natural gas from deposits discovered in the eastern Mediterranean over the past decade. The most commercial deposits have so far been found in Israeli waters, but there is significant potential in offshore Cyprus too (see our report Aphrodite’s Gift: Can Cypriot Gas Power a New Dialogue?).
The cheapest, quickest, most secure and most profitable way to get this gas to market is probably by pipeline to Turkey. But such a pipeline would have to pass through Cyprus’s Exclusive Economic Zone, and a senior Greek Cypriot official tells us there is no chance Nicosia will allow that to happen before a Cyprus settlement is arrived at or, at the least, before there is a very good prospect of one. And if a Cyprus settlement doesn’t materialize quickly, energy experts say the Israeli developers will choose a more expensive, but more certain, alternative export method, such as a floating terminal that freezes and liquefies the gas to load into tankers.
The U.S. is interested in supporting Israel as its ally appears to seek an insurance policy against Middle East turbulence by building a stronger line to the European Union through closer ties with Cyprus, Turkey and Greece. A gas pipeline linking three or four of these countries would be one way of reinforcing such a strategy. Israeli ideas are summarized in our blog here. U.S. mediation since March 2013 is also now close to resolving the crisis of confidence between Israel and Turkey. The trouble started when Ankara objected to an Israeli assault on Gaza in early 2009 that killed 1,430 Palestinians; tensions peaked when Israeli commandos killed eight Turks and a Turkish-American on the ship Mavi Marmara as it tried to bring aid to Gaza as part of an international fleet in 2010.
Why did this round of Cyprus talks take so long to get going?
The talks were first expected in October, but were held up when the Greek Cypriot side said it wanted a strong joint communiqué from a first meeting of leaders that would set the goals of the talks.
Specifically, the Greek Cypriots wanted a firm statement on a single sovereignty and a single international identity for the future federal state. Although Turkish Cypriots had already agreed to this in previous talks, in the event of a firm statement on single sovereignty they then wanted to add their own language underlining demands for political equality and strong residual powers held by the constituent states.
These talks about talks at last resulted in the joint communiqué that launched the current round. The communiqué reflects the language of both sides but breaks little new ground. Indeed, it is actually a step backwards in that it makes no reference to the 75 pages of convergences distributed to the two sides by UN facilitators after the 2008-12 round of talks (here), nor to the long-negotiated Annan Plan of 2004, which was the closest the two sides came to reunification but is rejected by Greek Cypriot politicians.
Is there a chance of new confidence-building measures?
The chances of this seem slim, although a striking confidence-building measure could radically change the atmosphere. Both the Cypriot leaders’ communiqué and a statement welcoming the new talks by EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy and EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso (here) stressed the desire to see something of this sort.
For now such calls constitute mainly an attempt to excite public interest. In mid-2013, Greek Cypriots refloated an old proposal that Turkey hand back the ghost resort of Varosha to its original owners, most of whom are Greek Cypriots. There were hints that, in return, they might free up some of Turkey’s EU negotiation chapters, allow Turkish Cypriots the right to send exports-tax free directly to the EU, and partially legalize the Turkish Cypriot airport (known as Ercan or Timbiou). Turkish officials viewed the offer as inadequate and nothing materialized. Historically, negotiations on confidence-building measures have almost always got knotted up in the larger Cyprus problem and failed to occur. The few that work are mostly done unilaterally and tend to normalize the situation on the ground.
The most obvious confidence-building measure would be for Turkey simply to extend its EU Customs Union to the Greek Cypriots, a measure that was already fully negotiated back in 2005 and is known as the Additional Protocol to the Ankara Agreement. It has been blocked for political reasons in Ankara, partly as a sanction against Greek Cypriots but also because Turkey lost interest in actively pursuing EU membership.
Ratifying the Additional Protocol would be a leap forward on several tracks: it would normalize trade with Greek Cypriots, helping their economy, which was shattered in 2013 by a financial-sector meltdown, and changing their perceptions of Turkey; it would clear the principal obstacle to opening 14 of Turkey’s 35 negotiating chapters with the EU; it would almost certainly result in Turkish Cypriots’ winning tax-free “direct trade” with the EU; and it would greatly improve the atmosphere of the Cyprus settlement talks.
Has Turkey shown much sign of wanting to do this?
Not yet. But, after years of neglecting Cyprus and its EU accession process, Turkey has now announced that 2014 will be a ‘Year of Europe’. In January, Prime Minister Erdoğan visited Brussels for the first time in five years and his foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu, played a crucial part in pushing forward the beginning of this new round of Cyprus talks. Such moves may partly be to shore up domestic popularity after a bumpy year, but they are steps in a positive direction.
Turkey should also undertake sustained outreach to Greek Cypriots. This was successful in 2010, when Prime Minister Erdoğan did invite to Istanbul a group of former Greek Cypriot officials, journalists and civil society activists. At the meeting, they were wowed by his repeated assurances that he wanted to do a deal on Cyprus. This visibly began to neutralize one of the most important drivers of the Cyprus dispute: institutionalized Greek Cypriot fear of the intentions of their far bigger and more powerful neighbour.
How high are hopes that this round of talks will reach a breakthrough?
Cynicism is rife among ordinary Cypriots. This is partly due to the four-month delay in starting the talks over what were widely seen as pedantic details, partly due to the disappointment of high hopes ahead of the 2008-12 talks, and partly due to the failure of the 2004 Annan Plan, which was accepted by 65 per cent of Turkish Cypriots and most of the international community but rejected by 76 per cent of Greek Cypriots. Most people think it will take a miracle of some kind to reach a settlement anytime soon.
What’s the price of failure?
While all sides would benefit from a settlement – any settlement – failure to make the politically painful compromises necessary to reach an outcome quickly will deepen the de facto partition of the island. Indeed, the level of disconnection between the two communities already looks almost irreversible. Lack of a settlement will leave Greek Cypriots isolated and poorer on the far eastern tip of the EU; Turkish Cypriots will remain stranded with little way to escape integration into Turkey; and NATO-member Turkey will be burdened with, at best, a frozen EU accession process and the steady drain on its resources of propping up the Turkish-Cypriot administration. Myriad regional benefits will also likely stay remote: the EU and NATO will remain unable to share assets; eastern Mediterranean natural gas will remain cut off from its most lucrative market in Turkey; and Greece and Turkey will be unlikely to solve their expensive maritime-boundaries dispute in the Aegean.
Background
The Mediterranean island of Cyprus won independence from Britain in 1960, but the constitutional arrangements between Greek Cypriots (then 80 per cent of the population) and Turkish Cypriots (18 per cent) broke down in 1963-64. Turkish Cypriots left the government and hundreds of people were killed in inter-communal violence. UN peacekeepers were deployed, but many Turkish Cypriots remained in ghettos. In 1974, a coup inspired by the military regime in Athens sought to annex Cyprus to Greece. Turkey, citing a legal right as a guarantor power, invaded the country and reversed the coup. But some 30,000 Turkish troops remained, occupying the northern 37 per cent of the island. The Greek Cypriots kept control of the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus, an EU member since 2004, while the Turkish Cypriots’ self-declared “Turkish Republic of North Cyprus” is only recognized by Turkey. Despite the major international stresses caused by the Cyprus problem, nobody has been killed in the frozen conflict since 1996, and only 10 people since 1974. Censuses on both sides show about 1.1 million people now live on the island, 840,000 in the Greek Cypriot south and 265,000 civilians in the Turkish Cypriot north.
From Solving the EU Turkey Cyprus Triangle
PHOTO: Reuters

A Little Something New: Cyprus Talks Begin | Crisis Group

On 11 February 2014, Nicos Anastasiades and Derviş Eroğlu – respectively the leaders of Cyprus’s Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities – restarted UN-facilitated talks on finding a Cyprus settlement. Our Turkey/Cyprus Project Director Hugh Pope (@Hugh_Pope) looks at the issues involved.

What’s new in these talks?

The talks’ goal, a bizonal, bicommunal federation for Cyprus, is not new; the UN-facilitated parameters are much the same; and many of those involved in the talks are veteran negotiators. The process now started is in large part an attempt to revive the round of talks held between 2008-12, itself the fifth major round over nearly four decades.

There are, however, three new aspects that have excited some diplomatic hopes. The first is that the Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades, who was elected Republic of Cyprus president a year ago, has made clear that he is seeking a light federal structure for any new republic, with constituent entities controlling their own borders and citizens having no contact with the central federation government in their daily lives. This is a more realistic approach than that of his predecessors and is more likely to lead to a settlement with the Turkish Cypriots, who are keen to keep as much power in their constituent entity as possible.

The second novelty is that the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot chief negotiators will soon visit Ankara and Athens respectively. Especially on the Greek Cypriot-Ankara axis, a lack of trust, and an inability to see that the other side really does want a deal, has long held back progress. Crisis Group has pushed strongly for the opening of this channel of communication since our briefing Cyprus: Six Steps Towards a Settlement.

The third new aspect is that the United States has taken a leading role in pressing for this round of talks to start. U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus John Koenig played an unusually prominent role in passing messages; agreement by both sides on a joint declaration to restart talks was achieved after a rare visit to the island by Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland; and Vice-President Joseph Biden telephoned President Anastasiades to congratulate him on the new round of talks.

What’s behind the new American interest?

One reason is the increasingly active world of eastern Mediterranean energy politics.  An American company, Noble Energy, is the main operator working to extract natural gas from deposits discovered in the eastern Mediterranean over the past decade. The most commercial deposits have so far been found in Israeli waters, but there is significant potential in offshore Cyprus too (see our report Aphrodite’s Gift: Can Cypriot Gas Power a New Dialogue?).

The cheapest, quickest, most secure and most profitable way to get this gas to market is probably by pipeline to Turkey. But such a pipeline would have to pass through Cyprus’s Exclusive Economic Zone, and a senior Greek Cypriot official tells us there is no chance Nicosia will allow that to happen before a Cyprus settlement is arrived at or, at the least, before there is a very good prospect of one. And if a Cyprus settlement doesn’t materialize quickly, energy experts say the Israeli developers will choose a more expensive, but more certain, alternative export method, such as a floating terminal that freezes and liquefies the gas to load into tankers.

The U.S. is interested in supporting Israel as its ally appears to seek an insurance policy against Middle East turbulence by building a stronger line to the European Union through closer ties with Cyprus, Turkey and Greece. A gas pipeline linking three or four of these countries would be one way of reinforcing such a strategy. Israeli ideas are summarized in our blog here. U.S. mediation since March 2013 is also now close to resolving the crisis of confidence between Israel and Turkey. The trouble started when Ankara objected to an Israeli assault on Gaza in early 2009 that killed 1,430 Palestinians; tensions peaked when Israeli commandos killed eight Turks and a Turkish-American on the ship Mavi Marmara as it tried to bring aid to Gaza as part of an international fleet in 2010.

Why did this round of Cyprus talks take so long to get going?

The talks were first expected in October, but were held up when the Greek Cypriot side said it wanted a strong joint communiqué from a first meeting of leaders that would set the goals of the talks.

Specifically, the Greek Cypriots wanted a firm statement on a single sovereignty and a single international identity for the future federal state. Although Turkish Cypriots had already agreed to this in previous talks, in the event of a firm statement on single sovereignty they then wanted to add their own language underlining demands for political equality and strong residual powers held by the constituent states.

These talks about talks at last resulted in the joint communiqué that launched the current round. The communiqué reflects the language of both sides but breaks little new ground. Indeed, it is actually a step backwards in that it makes no reference to the 75 pages of convergences distributed to the two sides by UN facilitators after the 2008-12 round of talks (here), nor to the long-negotiated Annan Plan of 2004, which was the closest the two sides came to reunification but is rejected by Greek Cypriot politicians.

Is there a chance of new confidence-building measures?

The chances of this seem slim, although a striking confidence-building measure could radically change the atmosphere. Both the Cypriot leaders’ communiqué and a statement welcoming the new talks by EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy and EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso (here) stressed the desire to see something of this sort.

For now such calls constitute mainly an attempt to excite public interest. In mid-2013, Greek Cypriots refloated an old proposal that Turkey hand back the ghost resort of Varosha to its original owners, most of whom are Greek Cypriots. There were hints that, in return, they might free up some of Turkey’s EU negotiation chapters, allow Turkish Cypriots the right to send exports-tax free directly to the EU, and partially legalize the Turkish Cypriot airport (known as Ercan or Timbiou). Turkish officials viewed the offer as inadequate and nothing materialized. Historically, negotiations on confidence-building measures have almost always got knotted up in the larger Cyprus problem and failed to occur. The few that work are mostly done unilaterally and tend to normalize the situation on the ground.

The most obvious confidence-building measure would be for Turkey simply to extend its EU Customs Union to the Greek Cypriots, a measure that was already fully negotiated back in 2005 and is known as the Additional Protocol to the Ankara Agreement. It has been blocked for political reasons in Ankara, partly as a sanction against Greek Cypriots but also because Turkey lost interest in actively pursuing EU membership.

Ratifying the Additional Protocol would be a leap forward on several tracks: it would normalize trade with Greek Cypriots, helping their economy, which was shattered in 2013 by a financial-sector meltdown, and changing their perceptions of Turkey; it would clear the principal obstacle to opening 14 of Turkey’s 35 negotiating chapters with the EU; it would almost certainly result in Turkish Cypriots’ winning tax-free “direct trade” with the EU; and it would greatly improve the atmosphere of the Cyprus settlement talks.

Has Turkey shown much sign of wanting to do this?

Not yet. But, after years of neglecting Cyprus and its EU accession process, Turkey has now announced that 2014 will be a ‘Year of Europe’. In January, Prime Minister Erdoğan visited Brussels for the first time in five years and his foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu, played a crucial part in pushing forward the beginning of this new round of Cyprus talks. Such moves may partly be to shore up domestic popularity after a bumpy year, but they are steps in a positive direction.

Turkey should also undertake sustained outreach to Greek Cypriots. This was successful in 2010, when Prime Minister Erdoğan did invite to Istanbul a group of former Greek Cypriot officials, journalists and civil society activists. At the meeting, they were wowed by his repeated assurances that he wanted to do a deal on Cyprus. This visibly began to neutralize one of the most important drivers of the Cyprus dispute: institutionalized Greek Cypriot fear of the intentions of their far bigger and more powerful neighbour.

How high are hopes that this round of talks will reach a breakthrough?

Cynicism is rife among ordinary Cypriots. This is partly due to the four-month delay in starting the talks over what were widely seen as pedantic details, partly due to the disappointment of high hopes ahead of the 2008-12 talks, and partly due to the failure of the 2004 Annan Plan, which was accepted by 65 per cent of Turkish Cypriots and most of the international community but rejected by 76 per cent of Greek Cypriots. Most people think it will take a miracle of some kind to reach a settlement anytime soon.

What’s the price of failure?

While all sides would benefit from a settlement – any settlement – failure to make the politically painful compromises necessary to reach an outcome quickly will deepen the de facto partition of the island. Indeed, the level of disconnection between the two communities already looks almost irreversible. Lack of a settlement will leave Greek Cypriots isolated and poorer on the far eastern tip of the EU; Turkish Cypriots will remain stranded with little way to escape integration into Turkey; and NATO-member Turkey will be burdened with, at best, a frozen EU accession process and the steady drain on its resources of propping up the Turkish-Cypriot administration. Myriad regional benefits will also likely stay remote: the EU and NATO will remain unable to share assets; eastern Mediterranean natural gas will remain cut off from its most lucrative market in Turkey; and Greece and Turkey will be unlikely to solve their expensive maritime-boundaries dispute in the Aegean.

Background

The Mediterranean island of Cyprus won independence from Britain in 1960, but the constitutional arrangements between Greek Cypriots (then 80 per cent of the population) and Turkish Cypriots (18 per cent) broke down in 1963-64. Turkish Cypriots left the government and hundreds of people were killed in inter-communal violence. UN peacekeepers were deployed, but many Turkish Cypriots remained in ghettos. In 1974, a coup inspired by the military regime in Athens sought to annex Cyprus to Greece. Turkey, citing a legal right as a guarantor power, invaded the country and reversed the coup. But some 30,000 Turkish troops remained, occupying the northern 37 per cent of the island. The Greek Cypriots kept control of the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus, an EU member since 2004, while the Turkish Cypriots’ self-declared “Turkish Republic of North Cyprus” is only recognized by Turkey. Despite the major international stresses caused by the Cyprus problem, nobody has been killed in the frozen conflict since 1996, and only 10 people since 1974. Censuses on both sides show about 1.1 million people now live on the island, 840,000 in the Greek Cypriot south and 265,000 civilians in the Turkish Cypriot north.

From Solving the EU Turkey Cyprus Triangle

PHOTO: Reuters

7 Feb
How Turkey Is Facing the Challenges of a Syrian Escalation | Karen Leigh
Last week, the Turkish army attacked a convoy of al-Qaida-linked vehicles in Syria, destroying three. The escalation triggered speculation that Turkey now considers the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) a bigger enemy in Syria than the Assad regime. 
The Syrian conflict has presented myriad security issues for Turkey over the past three years, as hundreds of thousands of refugees have flooded the south, and taken a toll on its economy, with millions of dollars in the import and export industry lost.
Syria Deeply asked Soli Ozel, a professor at Istanbul’s Bilgi University and columnist for the newspaper Haberturk; Didem Aykel Collinsworth, Turkey analyst at the International Crisis Group; and Gokhan Bacik, an analyst and associate professor of international relations at Ankara’s Ipek University, to weigh in on the challenges of a Syrian escalation, how the pressure is building and the effects on Turkey.
FULL INTERVIEW (Syria Deeply)
Photo: MATEUS_27:24&25/flickr

How Turkey Is Facing the Challenges of a Syrian Escalation | Karen Leigh

Last week, the Turkish army attacked a convoy of al-Qaida-linked vehicles in Syria, destroying three. The escalation triggered speculation that Turkey now considers the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) a bigger enemy in Syria than the Assad regime. 

The Syrian conflict has presented myriad security issues for Turkey over the past three years, as hundreds of thousands of refugees have flooded the south, and taken a toll on its economy, with millions of dollars in the import and export industry lost.

Syria Deeply asked Soli Ozel, a professor at Istanbul’s Bilgi University and columnist for the newspaper Haberturk; Didem Aykel Collinsworth, Turkey analyst at the International Crisis Group; and Gokhan Bacik, an analyst and associate professor of international relations at Ankara’s Ipek University, to weigh in on the challenges of a Syrian escalation, how the pressure is building and the effects on Turkey.

FULL INTERVIEW (Syria Deeply)

Photo: MATEUS_27:24&25/flickr