Suggestion Box Open: Turkey Wants Ideas to End Cyprus Unity Impasse

Αssociated press

FILE - Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu looks on during a press conference after a meeting with and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci in the Turkish Cypriot breakaway north part of the divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Friday Jan. 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

No one’s come close for more than four decades to Turkey said it’s open to ideas about how to reunify Cyprus after occupying the northern third in an unlawful 1974 invasion, splitting it and keeping an army there.

A conference at Near East University in the occupied territory was exploring options in the wake of the July, 2017 collapse of talks at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana when Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said they would never remove the army and wanted the right to militarily intervene again.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has “acknowledged in his recent reports that new ideas are needed for settlement of the Cyprus issue,” Cagatay Erciyes, a senior Turkish Foreign Ministry official, told the opening ceremony of the 2nd International Conference on the Cyprus issue.

“In this respect, we are ready to take up any new idea as long as the political equality of the Turkish Cypriots is secured and the security needs of the Turkish Cypriots are met,” he said, the Hurriyet Daily News reported.

Under the current circumstances, added Erciyes, Turkey neither excludes the federal model nor insists on any particular model, and it should review goals towards a solution but that a format must be set on what talks specifically would include.

“We don’t want to start negotiations only for the sake of negotiating, and we know the UN secretary-general shares the same approach. None of us can tolerate another failure,” Erciyes added, the paper said.

As other Turkish and Turkish-Cypriot officials have for years, he blamed the legitimate Cypriot government, which belongs to the European Union that Turkey wants to join, for intransigence, and faulted Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades for the impasse.

“He continues to see himself as a head of a unitary state who can grant rights to a minority,” said Erciyes, without explaining what that meant as the Greek-Cypriots are a majority and Turkish-Cypriots make up only about 18 percent of the population.

Turkey, Greece and the United Kingdom, the former Colonial ruler that still has a military base on the island, are guarantors of security but only Turkey wants to continue that arrangement - which also includes a UN peacekeeping force. Anastasiades proposed an international police force but got nowhere with that idea so Turkey wants some others.

In a recent report, Guterres also said that “new ideas” may be needed for a settlement on the long-divided island. He was at the Swiss talks but failed to broker an agreement, becoming the latest in a long line of UN leaders who couldn’t do it, and later put out a report blaming nobody for anything.