16 Jul 2017 An idea of the deal that never was

Posted | 0 comments

One of the greatest tragedies of the breakdown of the talks to solve the Cyprus problem in Crans-Montana last week was that we had only just found out what each party really cared about.

This only really came out at the ‘last supper’, as people are now calling it, on July 6. We already knew that Greek Cypriots really cared about an end to troops and guarantees, but it was only at the dinner that it became clear (to me, at least) that the real trade-off for that was a generous rotating presidency for Turkish Cypriots.

We also knew that Turkey wanted something out of all of this, too, namely equal treatment for Turkish nationals.

Just in case there is any life yet in the federal model, below I have outlined a few ideas on how to incentivise everyone to make the deal.

The main premise here is that Cyprus should become a ‘normal’ country, in the words of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. In my view, this means Cyprus will have to see an end at some fixed, knowable point, to troops and guarantees.

My primary reason, apart from a personal interest in wanting to live in a normal country myself, is that I do not think any Greek Cypriot leader can win a referendum without a firm date for the troops to leave. It will be hard enough to win a referendum even with this date. A small number of Turkish troops forever will just not cut it.

Turkish Cypriots will only consent to zero troops if they feel safe. That means very robust mechanisms to anticipate, outlaw and tackle hate speech, hate crimes and discrimination. This is not a trivial concern. I hear that the Republic of Cyprus police have been inundated with complaints about social media harassment of peace activists. Turkish Cypriots also frequently complain that not enough is done to tackle attacks on cars and so on.

It also means robust mechanisms to ensure that the constitution and power-sharing arrangements are being implemented as agreed and that the troops are leaving according to a set timetable. This will probably need an international body and possibly an international force, for a transition period. I will not go into the details of that here, but there are plenty of ideas out there for how it might work in a way that satisfies everyone.

I have put the deal as a choice between four options. Each option has different incentives to be generous. Option 1 includes the greatest “takes” for each party – zero troops after a short period for Greek Cypriots, highly visible power-sharing for Turkish Cypriots and freedom of movement for Turkey. But it also involves the greatest “gives”. The idea is that each party has a powerful incentive to go for the most generous option.

Option 1

Troops 0 after 5 years: Turkey offers troops and guarantees expiring automatically after five years if an international body declares that domestic implementation (power-sharing, conflict-prevention measures, anti-discrimination and so on) is proceeding smoothly. The international body gives reassurances to the Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots that Greek Cypriots will not try to play with the constitution, as they complain they did in 1963.

Joint-ticket presidency: Turkish Cypriots offer presidential elections on ‘joint tickets’ (Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot candidates running together). This reduces accusations of ethnic division so raises the chances of Greek Cypriots accepting power-sharing and a rotating presidency.

Presidency rotates 1:1: In return for such a short period for the withdrawal of troops and a joint-ticket presidency, Greek Cypriots offer rotation on an equal, 1:1 basis. This gives a very powerful ‘visibility’ to Turkish Cypriots in power-sharing, so raises their chances of voting yes in a referendum. It also reduces the risk of vetoes.

Turkish freedom of movement with only emergency break: No limits on freedom of movement of Turkish nationals except for an ‘emergency break’ clause similar to those in place for European Economic Area (EEA) countries. Last week I wrote why granting Turkish nationals the four freedoms is a national, not an EU, competence, so does not make Cyprus a ‘second-class state’. Nor does it have an impact on the rights of Turkish nationals to citizenship in Cyprus, or their freedom of movement elsewhere within the EU. Any need for an emergency break would have to be verified by an independent international body.

The remaining options are watered down versions of the first: there is less to give, but less to receive as well. For that reason, I believe the other options will be harder to get through twin referenda.

Option 2

Troops 0 after 10 years: As for option 1, but Turkish troops and guarantees expire automatically after 10 years if an international body declares that domestic implementation is proceeding smoothly.

Joint-ticket presidency: As per option 1: a joint-ticket presidency.

Presidency rotates 1:2: Taking into account the longer period for the withdrawal of troops, but acknowledging a joint-ticket presidency, Greek Cypriots offer a rotating presidency on a 1:2 basis.

Turkish free movement with 15% residency limit: Freedom of movement in principle but permanent residency of Turkish nationals limited to 15% of the population.

Option 3

Troops 0 after 10 years: Exactly as in option 2: Turkish troops and guarantees expire automatically after 10 years if an international body declares that domestic implementation is proceeding smoothly.

No joint-ticket presidency: Candidates run separately and are voted for by their respective communities.

Presidency rotates 1:3: In return for a longer period for the withdrawal of troops and no joint-ticket presidency, Greek Cypriots offer a rotating presidency on a 1:3 basis.

Turkish free movement with 10% residency limit: Freedom of movement in principle, but permanent residency of Turkish nationals limited to 10% of the population.

 

Option 4

Troops 0 after 15 years: Turkish troops and guarantees expire automatically after 15 years if an international body declares that domestic implementation is proceeding smoothly.

No joint-ticket presidency: Candidates run separately and are voted for by their respective communities.

Presidency rotates 1:4: In return for a much longer period for the withdrawal of troops and no joint-ticket presidency, Greek Cypriots offer a rotating presidency on a 1:4 basis (more or less relative to population size).

Turkish free movement with 5% residency limit: Freedom of movement in principle but permanent residency of Turkish nationals limited to 5% of the population.

Similar approaches could be tried for a territory-property trade-off: the more generous Turkish Cypriots are with territorial adjustment, the more generous Greek Cypriots can be with current users of Greek Cypriot property.

Maybe these ideas are all too late. If so, put this in your Cyprus problem drawer for the next generation.

By Fiona Mullen, Director, Sapienta Economics Ltd

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *