US congressional report ponders on ‘elusive’ nature of Cyprus’ reunification

An annual report undertaken by the US Congressional Research Service, discusses in depth the efforts to reach a solution and reunify Cyprus, divided since the Turkish invasion of 1974,in view of the now ongoing UN led Conference on Cyprus in Crans � Montana, Switzerland, offers various scenarios and poses questions as to the positions of different participants to the process.

Entitled Cyprus: Reunification Proving Elusive, and signed by Vincent Morelli, Section Research Manager the report notes that while some observers remain sceptical, others believe Geneva II presents a major opportunity for both sides to finally decide how much they really want to resolve what has been 52 years of frustrating negotiations to reunify the island. The report was made publish on the 15th of June.

As for the negotiators, it continues, Geneva II raises a lot of questions as to what they are willing to offer by way of compromises to long held position.

It poses a series of questions such as for instance, can the Greek Cypriots accept some level of a temporary Turkish military presence and security guarantee?

Can the Turkish Cypriots resolve themselves to accept an agreement that eventually would remove all Turkish military forces from the island and would replace them with the security guarantee of the EU?, it continues.

Can Ankara demonstrate that it is more interested in the well-being of the Turkish Cypriots than its geostrategic interests and influence over the island? it asks.

Can Greece and Turkey work together to keep post-agreement tensions in check so that neither feels the need for intervention? it wonders.

Nevertheless, the report notes, to most observers, the fact that Anastasiades and Akinci appear to have come closer to reaching a settlement than at any time since 2004, argues for the case that although a solution for that final settlement remains elusive, the negotiators appear ready to move to Geneva II, maintaining a level of optimism.

A highly political chess game also involving the calendar, is once again about to begin. If any of the above scenarios plays out too long through the summer, a solution may have to be postponed until after the elections are concluded in the Republic in early 2018, the report reads.

It poses the questions will the Turkish Cypriots agree to wait? If the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey sense that the opponents of the negotiations are gaining momentum and are having an influence on Anastasiades’s determination to reach a solution now, will Akinci’s commitment to a solution give way to threats of ending the talks and of a permanent separation?

On the other hand it also poses the question if Turkey shows no flexibility on security and guarantees and gives the impression it is stalling the negotiations, will Anastasiades be forced by domestic pressures to abandon the talks until after the elections?

The report also refers to Turkeys’ curious demands at Geneva that certain freedoms that would come as part of any settlement should also be applied to Turkish citizens living in the north, and its apparent opposition to certain territorial concessions that may have been offered by Akinci, seemed to complicate the negotiations at a critical time.

It is conceivable, the report argues, that Ankara’s strategy at Geneva to inject new complications could have been Turkey’s attempt to build international pressure on the Greek Cypriots to compromise, even on an interim basis, on Turkish troops and guarantees, which would allow Turkey’s military a face-saving exit from Cyprus and reassure the Turkish Cypriots that they would still be protected.

President Anastasiades, the report points out, also came under a good deal of pressure as the buildup to the 2018 presidential elections began.

Source: Cyprus News Agency