United Cyprus Republic

flag-UCRThe south Cyprus Sunday Mail has a thoughtful article which says that in April 2004, by admitting the Greek Cypriot side as in effect the government of Cyprus, “the EU has lost its credibility” as a negotiator of the Cyprus Problem. They also go on to say that although Turkish Cypriots may not be internationally recognised without them the Cyprus Problem cannot be solved. Additionally, Turkey’s position on the Ankara Protocol actually seems fair to many outsiders, i.e. its insistence on free trade and non-discrimination for all Cypriots, and for GCs to keep pushing their opposition to this may start to alienate support.

Back in 1960 the Cypriots were left with a constitution based on the The Zürich and London Agreement and by 1963 this had failed. This constitution was an attempt to treat both Turkish and Greek Cypriots as equal partners and yet it was unworkable. One reason for this was that it was full of balancing powers which allowed one ethnic group to cancel out the other’s legislation. In November 1963 the GC President declared the constitution unworkable and the TC Vice President declared that the Republic of Cyprus therefore ceased to exist. The TCs withdrew from government taking TC civil servants with them. Some would say that’s when the problem started.

This 1960 constitution has never been legally changed and in theory there should be a Turkish Cypriot vice-president with some veto rights (Articles 36 and 50 of the Constitution). Three out of ten cabinet ministers should be Turkish Cypriots (Article 46) and also, 30% of the members of the House of Representatives should be Turkish Cypriots (Article 62(2)) with separate majority rights on certain issues (Article 78(2)).

So how will the new United Cyprus be different so that it avoids the 60’s problems? Well that’s the problem, Presidents Talat and Christofias have negotiated for a year now and they are not releasing most of what is being said. That’s bad news in my book, it’s as if only they and a few chosen political advisors should have a say in the formation of plans which will finally go to referendum. OK, the electorate will have a say then but what if these politicians have got it wrong? What if the hundreds of thousands of electorate have better ideas, ones which would be more acceptable to them. By keeping the people of Cyprus out of these negotiations you suffocate debate until maybe it is too late. They say that a camel is a horse created by a committee, I have a feeling that what will come out of these discussions will be stillborn at best.

In the south we have a Greek-Turkish state based on the 1960 Constitution. We already have a Turkish Cypriot vice-president with some veto rights (Articles 36 and 50 of the Constitution). Three out of ten cabinet ministers are Turkish Cypriots (Article 46). Also, 30 per cent of the members of the House of Representatives are Turkish Cypriots (Article 62(2)) with separate majority rights on certain issues (Article 78(2)).

We have Turkish Cypriot independent officers (Articles 112-121). The government is also now implementing the provision about 30 per cent of Turkish Cypriots in the public service (Article 123(1)).

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