We Need More Politics for Cyprus Solution

We Need More Politics for Cyprus Solution

Mertkan Hamit


The melancholy of autumn in Cyprus is relatively short and if everything goes well the cold winter will be followed by a bright `Cypriot Spring` after the referenda that may take place. If we have YES results from both sides, than we can enjoy the long summer while partying together at the tranquil beaches of Varosha.

Sincere efforts by the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot leaders for the future of our country is vital. However, being sincere is not enough when we take the complexity of the decade-long conflict into an account. There are hurdles to make fairy-tale a real success story. Keeping those who are banging for the status-quo in the both sides aside, the issue of bizonality is the key for the solution. Once we get over this hurdle, we may speak of a settlement plan not in months but in days!

But what is the problem on the bizonality?

Basically, the sides have different interpretations.

According to the Turkish Cypriot side, the bizonality of federal Cyprus means the territorial jurisdiction for the Turkish Cypriots that they have their own clear majority in terms of a)population b) property.

Turkish Cypriot side legitimates their standing point from the UNSC Resolution number 750. However, Turkish Cypriot side also takes a step forward and demands also a guarantee for the prevalence of the clear majority. Exemplary Kadi v. Council and the Commission, the Community law rejects any measure against the human rights. (Paragraph. 281 – 286)

Obviously, bizonality that serves for the political equality is consistent with the human rights and the international law. Also, a clear majority of each side on their own constituent state sounds sort of understandable. Special regulations on these is doable. However, adding up another pillar to make this permanent – as if anything is permanent in politics – seems like stretching it too much.

Turkish Cypriot side demand to ensure the clear majority and linking it to the limitations over the ratio of the property ownership of the Greek Cypriots in the areas that will fall within the Turkish Cypriot constituent state. According to the TC side, the guarantee is necessary, because otherwise Turkish Cypriots’ majority can be nullified via the international courts.

At this point, the question to be asked is what exactly TC side wants ?

Turkish Cypriot side want to ensure that there is a legal certainty on bizonality . That’s why the Turkish Cypriot side demands to approve the matter as the EU’s primary law. However, the question to be asked is whether there is any other way of ensuring a legal certainty.

Demand for the legal certainty is a legitimate demand, there are doubts whether each EU national parliament will approve this bill to pass in order to satisfy Turkish Cypriot side’s concerns via making it as a primary law of the EU. It is necessary to emphasize that such recognition may also have internal impacts over the other within the EU  member states. It may not be very desirable by them.

On the other hand, Greek Cypriot side acknowledges the concerns of the Turkish Cypriots. However, Turkish Cypriot sides demand on several layers of protective measures at a higher jurisdictions comprehended as permanent derogation from the European Acquis. As far as the limitations over the property ownership remain permanent, Greek Cypriot side put it as an inconsistent demand vis a vis the four freedoms of the European Union. (Freedom of movement of the Goods, Capital, Service and People)

Considering the four freedoms as the core of the European project, than Cyprus solution is doomed to internalize the European values. Of course, the peace and democracy must be sustainable at this time and the concerns of the constituent political will of the people must be taken into an account for a fresh start.

Integration of European values to the Cyprus solution and the question of legal certainty bears conflict at the moment. Not a conflict that bears violence but it distances the solution.

My understanding suggests that the clash of legal positions and legal arguments does not offer a resolution and this is not a dead-end. Actually a really fresh beginning.

Thankfully, we have politics that have power to offer alternatives. My point of view, recognition of the legal arguments failure is the first step of the solution at the moment. Law can not solve every question but politics CAN!

Once we comprehend that the pure legalistic interpretations does not offer us an alternative than we can provide a viable political options. This can form a new legal framework that have its legitimacy from the people who are subject to it.

We can ensure both sides concern from a peaceful and democratic way. So from the beginning the idea is consistent with the core aim of the international law. But what would be the formula?

For me we need three pillars to safeguard the concerns of all:

1- Common Political will for Settlement

2- A constitution that recognizes the legitimacy of the new state of affairs

3- A Charter of Rights of the People in Cyprus.

Presumably, the first one –political will- is there.. Both negotiators and the leaders are meeting as many times as possible. It will be showcased once we have a referendum.

Second one – the constitution- will be formulated which will define the framework of how the state apparatuses and their operational capacity.

However we need also a charter of rights, a common declaration of the people’s desire for a federal country.

This can be a vital document, it can be as important as the federal constitution but it will go beyond that because it will be offer flexibility and a terms of reference for the peaceful settlement of the conflicting laws. Also it will ensure the legal certainty because, this can be a charter that would be the EU primary law. Rather than having a community-centric protective measure, a federated understanding will help to overcome the whole nationalist illusion.

To sum up, the solution can be achieved in Cyprus by politics not by silencing politics within the legal arguments.