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“Kosovoisation” of north Cyprus?

UNIf, as expected, the current talks fail then one option is for north Cyprus to take its future in its own hands before others do it for them. If the EU and/or other developed economies were to actively help remove the north’s isolation without formally recognising north Cyprus as a state then this could be the catalyst needed for self-determination. Taiwan and Kosovo are examples of this being a realistic alternative should all else fail.

“Kosovoisation” is where a group of people are recognised as an entity, as north Cyprus is, and gradually their status is strengthened without them being fully legalised. In Kosovo’s case this was brought about by veto powers in the UN annulling each other’s position either to recognize or to not recognize its declaration of independence. If north Cyprus could gain similar support from at least some of the countries that are prepared to recognize them then they to might eventually be able to go the way of Kosovo . This could happen if a double veto created deadlock in the UN after one of the permanent members uses their veto power in favour of north Cyprus. Even Taiwan is recognized by twenty-three states. If this were to happen, then north Cyprus would be independent, but not a member of the UN, like Kosovo.

The current talks are the responsibility of the “old Cypriots” and represent their last opportunity to reach a settlement. If they do then Cyprus will be united and will enjoy the advantages of being a member of the EU. However, if they fail then it should be the time for the old men to stick to arguing in their coffee houses and let others try a different way of settling north Cyprus’s future. This time the focus would not be on a peaceful unification but instead will be on a peaceful separation.

Written with the help of Mehmet Hasgüler and Murat Tüzünkan’s article in Right Side News.

With respect to the Annan plan, the state parties have consulted nothing but their own interests. They have not paid sufficient attention to the priorities of the two communities in Cyprus. As a result, they have not implemented the plan and now find themselves confronting a serious failure. In addition, those responsible for this failure are looking at events from one angle and are making mistakes when they try to analyze the failure of the Annan plan. Particularly, the sterility of European thinking in regard to the Cyprus problem and the inability of the EU to come up with alternative solutions indicate how difficult it is for Europe to become a powerful actor in international politics. The EU’s attitude toward Cyprus has not only been an exercise in passing the buck rather than moving toward a solution, it has also caused a hardening of the existing divisions between the communities. This scenario teaches that in Cyprus, as in so many other conflicts, realistic solutions must arise from the parties themselves, instead of being imposed by foreign powers.

Turkish Cyprus’s many socioeconomic and cultural problems cannot be solved only through the government’s courting Western powers. Rather, if Western powers establish economic and cultural relations with northern Cyprus, this will help remove the isolation of Turkish Cypriots without formalizing recognition of north Cyprus as a state. In the past, such an alternative was not even considered possible. However, as the Cyprus issue is becoming less of a concern for the international community,[26] establishing economic and cultural relations with northern Cyprus (without recognizing it as an independent state) seems to be a more likely alternative. This, in turn, may help on the way to the “Taiwanization”[27] or even “Kosovoization” of northern Cyprus. Kosovoization here refers to a gradual formalization of independence without full legalization. This was how the veto powers blocked the U.N. in the case of Kosovo, annulling each other’s position either to recognize or not recognize its declaration of independence. Certainly, there are a number of U.N. Security Council resolutions against the independence of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. However, Turkish Cypriots may still gain their independence bilaterally, by gaining support from at least some of those countries that are prepared to recognize their state. This could happen if a similar double veto were to create a deadlock in the U.N. after one of the permanent members uses their veto power in favor of the Turkish side. It should be remembered that even Taiwan is recognized by twenty-three states. If that were to happen, the Turkish Cypriot State would be independent, but not a member of the U.N., exactly like Kosovo.

The Greek Cypriot perception of the current situation still underestimates the strength of Turkey. Since 2002, Turkey’s new “zero problem” approach has gained momentum while the Greek Cypriot leadership continues to act as if Turkey is still pursuing old policies. In reality, however, Turkey is treating the Cyprus issue as part of its general foreign policy strategy of reducing tensions in its surrounding areas.

Despite this, it is tempting to observe that Cyprus has a model from which to learn. Throughout the thirty years and more of civil strife in northern Ireland, the pro-U.K. Protestants and their paramilitaries doggedly refused overtures from a majority of Irishmen to let their enclave become part of the southern republic. When the unrest began in 1968, the Protestant position seemed not unreasonable. But years later, the republic had moved from its early agriculture and church focus to become one of the strongest economies in the world while the north remained a severely neglected part of the U.K. The secret of the republic’s success was its willingness to move wholeheartedly into the EU and to use it as a vantage point from which to obtain massive subsidies and concessions. For Cypriots, EU access holds out similar possibilities. But they must opt to enter the EU wholly independently of what Turkey or Greece does or thinks.

The old Cypriots have thrown their last round of dice. If they win, Cyprus will be united and will enjoy all the advantages of being a member of the EU. However, if the game is lost, it will be time for the old men to leave the coffee house in order to let a new game begin. This time, the end of the negotiations game will not be peaceful unification, but peaceful separation. In either case, a new era for Cyprus will begin.

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