After another attempt at solving the problem of Cyprus' division fell apart quickly, Turkish-Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar said it makes no sense to try again as United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
The hardline Tatar, following the lead of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said he would only agree to talk about two separate sides on the island that's been split since an unlawful 1974 Turkish invasion.
That was rejected out of hand by Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades at the so-called 5 + 1 talks in Geneva led by Guterres, which included the three guarantors of security for the island: Greece, Turkey and the former Colonial ruler The United Kingdom.
After two days of informal chit chat, Guterres – who presided over a similar failure in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana – said there was no “common ground” to lead to serious negotiations and gave up again.
He said he wanted to try again in a few months but Tatar indicated it's just a futile gesture because he won't talk reunification, only permanent partition, demanding the occupied northern third unaccepted by any other country apart from Turkey be recognized.
Still, Guterres, who after the Crans-Montana debacle issued a report exonerating everyone from blame, said he'll make another stab at another round, adding that, “I do not give up.”
But that came after he said, “The truth is that in the end of our efforts, we have not yet found enough common ground to allow for the resumption of formal negotiations in relation to the settlement of the Cyprus problem,” as he called it.
The Greek-Cypriot legitimate government that's a member of the European Union that Turkey has fruitlessly been trying to join since 2005 wants talks based on the idea of a bizonal, bicommunal federation.
“As you can imagine, this was not an easy meeting,” he said. “To square the circle is an impossibility in geometry, but it is very common in politics,” although no one's gotten close in decades in dealing with Cyprus.
Turkey keeps a standing army of 35,000 troops in the occupied territory and is drilling for oil and gas in Cypriot waters and has demanded the right of further military intervention.
SAME OLD SAME OLD
Greek-Cypriots said a Turkish-Cypriot demand for veto power at all levels of government decision-making won't fly, adding to the dilemma that seems just as intractable as it's always been.
Tatar said repeating the same formula of failure won't work and said that he and Turkey will accept only a “partnership between two equal states,” at the same time Turkey doesn't recognize Cyprus and bars its ships and planes.
“Turkish-Cypriots and Greek-Cypriots have inherent sovereign rights in Cyprus. We are both equal," Tatar said in written statement. “That is why the UN mandate must change, to reflect our sovereign equality and equal international status. Once we level the playing field, I am confident we will have the breakthrough that we all so desperately want to see."
Greek-Cypriots say a federation-based deal is enshrined in symbolic UN Security Council resolutions and is the only answer – which the Turkish-Cypriot side now won't even agree to have put on the table.
Speaking to reporters, Anastasiades said Guterres made it “abundantly clear" to Turkey and the Turkish-Cypriots that there's “no possibility" to resume formal negotiations based on anything other than UN guidelines.
“It was something that was noted by the Secretary-General that if there's no solution on the basis which has been outlined by the United Nations, then they (Turkish-Cypriots) will carry on in the same way, isolated from the international community as they claim," Anastasiades said.
Anastasiades said EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell also told the Turkish side that the bloc can't accept a two-state deal for Cyprus, which joined the 27-member EU in 2004 – only the legitimate government's side.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu accused Anastasiades of lacking “vision” and sounding like a “broken record,” insisting that Turkey would strongly support the Turkish Cypriots' two-state proposal but won't recognize the UN's Law of the Sea and will continue drilling.
“We will not make concessions on the issue of independence, sovereignty and equality," Cavusoglu said. “If these are recognized, the two states can in the future negotiate how they will cooperate. If they are not recognized, we will continue on our path together" with the Turkish-Cypriots, he also said.
(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)