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Reshaping Cyprus security

Domestic and international players in the Cyprus peace process agree that all sides will not be able to reach a solution without a coherent and working plan on security and guarantees.

Most agree that this is a core issue of the problem and will play a pivotal role in how people vote if and when an agreement is put to a referendum.

Today leaders Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci begin a new solution process and security will not be a consideration on the negotiating table for now.

Nevertheless, the Cyprus Weekly understands that diplomats and experts have already started looking into different scenarios, hoping they can be tabled successfully at the appropriate time.

In all 40 years of negotiations, security and guarantees were never discussed properly. The two sides (and Turkey) stand diametrically opposed, with each sticking to proposals that left no margin for compromise.

The Greek Cypriot side demands the abolition of guarantees and the Turkish Cypriot side insists on Ankara’s intervention rights on the island.

To bridge the divide, European diplomats and experts have worked on a number of ideas that can circumvent absolutes and non-negotiable positions. A

lexandros Lordos, Research Director at the Centre for Sustainable Peace and Democratic Development (SeeD), has explored several scenarios, which take into account the fact that a working security strategy should respond to the needs and fears of the population.

Security aspects

The Cyprus Weekly understands that a successful federal security policy should provide for different levels of needs and address different types of threats.

This is especially important for a country such as Cyprus, where suspicion is rife between communities. As such, a security policy should provide for the following:

• Individual security: This should respond to the need for Greek Cypriots to feel secure in a Turkish Cypriot federal state and vice versa. The two constituent states need to find ways to handle extremists and deal with hate crime.

Setting up a federal special unit to investigate hate crimes and to intervene in problematic areas or villages could be the answer to this issue.

• Communal security: This must ensure that the Turkish Cypriot federal unit cannot attack the Greek Cypriot one and vice versa.

The remedy to this provided in the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee was in giving a guarantor power (Turkey, Greece and Britain) the right to intervene if there was a breach of the Treaty and if the situation could not be handled by common and concerted action; thiswas the pretext used by Turkey to invade Cyprus in 1974.

The plan here is to replace the right to unilaterally intervene (which is vaguely stipulated in paragraph IV of the 1960 treaty) with an appendix listing responses to a set of threats felt by either federal unit (see separate section below).

• State security:What to do if an enemy force attacks Cyprus. The answer here is a homogenous Cypriot security force (comprised of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots). It would be composed of a few thousand soldiers with army bases in ‘neutral’ federal locations. Emphasis would be given to naval power as well as air defence.

Training could fall under a UNFICYP mandate. This scenario does not foresee the presence of Greek and Turkish contingency forces. Other scenarios include the formation of a mixed military force under Cypriot command.

This would be a multinational force, possibly leaving out Greeks and Turks. There are also thoughts to deploy NATO troops on the island “wearing EU uniforms”, or to devise a series of European guarantees, combined with the presence of Turkish soldiers. It is acknowledged, though, that any attempt to promote the last two options will be met with considerable opposition.

• Regional & international security:How a federal Cyprus will participate in security efforts in the region and internationally. Cypriot army units will be taking part in peacekeeping operations. The unified country could also provide educational programmes on conflict resolution.

As far as dealing with international and regional terrorism, Cyprus needs to establish a competent intelligence agency with its focus on international information gathering rather than internal operations.

Abolishing intervention powers

Referring back to the issue of communal security and guarantor intervention, public opinion polls from 2004 clearly showed that the thorn in the guarantees issue was the guarantor powers’ right of intervention.

The idea in the works at a diplomatic level is to replace Paragraph IV with an appendix outlining specific responses to specific threats.

This would a compromise to allay the fears of both sides. Greek Cypriots are still afraid of another Turkish intervention, while Turkish Cypriots do not feel secure without the physical presence of Ankara on the island. The aforementioned appendix could include individual threats, such as the following, as well as their remedies.

• If the Turkish side causes trouble concerning the return of areas to Greek Cypriot administration according to the property readjustment clause. This is a legitimate concern for Greek Cypriots and it could be handled with a full suspension of Turkey’s accession talks in the EU and freezing European funds earmarked for the Turkish Cypriot constituent state.

• If the Greek Cypriots take up arms and march into the Turkish Cypriot constituent state. As far removed a possibility as it may sound, it is a real concern for Turkish Cypriots who would be fully justified in asking for external help in this case.

• Taking action against extreme nationalist or even terrorist groups. The federal police are being considered as the most likely candidates in this case, with contributions from American and British intelligence experts.

• Greek Cypriots preventing Turkish Cypriot access to the federal government. In this case, the EU would intervene and suspend the state’s membership.

• External threat from a third country. This would be handled by the Cypriot army, combined with a wider European safety net.

Data from research studies in both communities show that all of the above is widely accepted, with the exception of the provision allowing Turkish Cypriots to request external help in the instance of Greek Cypriot aggression.

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