Who is The Fool?
An old and beloved friend of mine, whom I cannot see nowadays due to our geographical distance, has a saying:
“He who takes the other as a fool is a fool himself.”
It is a beautiful and profound saying. I don’t know how many remember it today. The leader of Turkish Cypriots, Mustafa Akinci had spoken to Espen Berth Eide, Special Counsel to UN Secretary General on Cyprus, just before he was getting ready to leave the island. Eide had told Akinci to not give up on the unification of the island, and Akinci, in response had stated that there wasn’t much chance left for a Federation in Cyprus since the Greek side was opposing plans for a rotating presidency and that they were hiding behind the guarantees by other nations. He had further proposed a two-state solution within the EU.
Akinci’s stance went against what the republican Turkish political parties have always been advocating for: “A federation, and nothing but a federation.” An attitude shared by most leftists in Turkey who had attacked Akinci for his opinions back then. Now, I can’t say for sure whether Mr. Akinci was speaking in retaliation for the attacks against him, or he had realized, at the time, that it would better serve the interest of Turkish Cypriots instead of trying endlessly to appease the Greek side. In the end, we are left with a confused man at the helm, who has long been in hiding, who has been trying to get whatever he can via secret, closed-door negotiations, and who, as a leader to his people, was unable to tell them what he was aiming for, and what kind of a solution he was after. It is as if, everyone involved in the negotiations are fools -except for Mustafa Akinci, Asim Aksoy and their ilk.
Greek leader Nikos Anastasiades, in contrast, recently explained to his people and the world exactly what type of a solution they are after as well as the meaning and implications of their “loose federation” proposals. His reverie for Cyprus reads like a bad joke. On one hand, he is talking about “forming a loose federation”, and “empowering local authorities and decentralization”, while, on the other, he talks about trimming the principles of equality, but not the principle of rule by majority. Furthermore, he goes on to say that, the Turkish side must do away with their demands for security and guarantees since it will have no meaning within the EU.
As much as Mr. Okansoy keeps insisting that Anastasiades has not, actually, yet made his position clear, he obviously has. And it is not just a surrender, but also a treason to dream and talk about a federation in Cyprus when the Greek side has stated orally -and in writing, their clear position. The President of TRNC must stop acting like a romantic and must come to his senses as the representative of the Turkish population on the island, and must begin to clearly articulate his position, and his conditions for the negotiations to continue.
Doesn’t a two-state solution under EU approximate an indirect federal system, anyway? A solution centered around territory approximation, borders, property rights, and compensations would be a much more easily accessible end goal. Such a solution is also easier to hold and maintain, and it may turn the Mediterranean into peaceful waters that the whole world can benefit from. We already know that the EU is opposing this idea, but doesn’t it make more sense to look at this as a Cyprus-specific issue, rather than a Paris or Madrid or a generic minority issue?
The United States, as well as the international companies who want to do business in the region are well aware that the recent oil and natural gas explorations conducted in Eastern Mediterranean are going to complicate the Cyprus situation. So, how come the Greeks and the EU are still trying to hamper the efforts? Soon, when the TRNC authorizes them, Turkish drilling companies will get to work. If they find enough hydrocarbon to process to the north and south of the island, it will get much harder to manage the situation. If we are really after a solution, today is the day for it. Tomorrow may be too late.