A clear path providing the essential elements of an initial agreement to resolve the Cyprus problem will be available to Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci when they resume peace talks later this month.
Senior diplomatic sources told the Cyprus Weekly that through horizontal negotiations between chapters – an unprecedented process in Cyprus talks – both sides will have the opportunity to have gains in one chapter, whilst conceding less desirable objectives in another.
For example, the Greek Cypriot side could see gains in territory and properties, while accepting that Turkish Cypriots will be on a better footing in governance and constitutional matters.
International players working for reunification believe that, through this method, an initial agreement can be achievable in the autumn, giving the sides the time to beef up their respective sections by the end of the year.
Under the above plan, a political agreement should be built on the following basic elements:
• A working federal state that respects the political equality of its two constituent units and is EU-compatible. The element of bizonality will not prevent the implementation of the EU’s Four Freedoms (free movement of workers, goods, capital and services), as well as the right to property in all areas of the island. This is a marked difference from the not so distant past, when Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots insisted the EU Four Freedoms be implemented at a later stage, years after a solution.
• A clear agreement between the two sides on the competences of the federal central government and those of the constituent states. This is a crucial issue, as it involves international representation matters and the ability of constituent states to sign international agreements. The Turkish Cypriots argue that constituent states should have representation rights on all areas of competence, as well as the right to sign international agreements related to those competences. Greek Cypriots insist that constituent states’ competences are restricted to internal management of federal units while representation and signing of international agreements remain a federal right.
• Workable arrangement on properties and territorial issues. The objective here is to achieve a win-win situation in broad terms. That means finding a fine balance between restitution, compensation and exchange of properties, an exercise that is directly related to territorial adjustments. For example, if the Greek Cypriots get back pockets of land that were populated mainly by them before 1974, it would increase restitution to properties and reduce potential reaction by displaced people in a referendum.
• Creating the framework for encouraging substantive investment across the island. This way, businesses would be allowed to develop everywhere, encouraging both ethnicities to understand benefits resulting from a settlement.
• Mutually acceptable security arrangements, making sure that Turkish Cypriots would have a stable constituent state and that there won’t be a repetition of 1964’s internecine violence. It is equally important for the Greek Cypriots to live without the burden of Turkey’s presence on the island.
Diplomats told the Cyprus Weekly that the sides will not be obliged to present maps with the proposals on territorial adjustments at this first attempt to reach a political agreement.