President Nicos Anastasiades has a vision for a post-settlement Cyprus that takes into account each community’s fears but does away with the traditional guarantor structure.
As a result of the 1974 invasion, Greek Cypriots tend to see guarantor powers (Turkey, Greece and the UK) as a threat, while because of the coup that preceded it, Turkish Cypriots see a Turkish guarantee as protection.
While acknowledging Turkish Cypriot fears, Anastasiades says that there are other ways to safeguard their needs.
“You must understand that the Turkish Cypriots do not trust the Greek Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots do not trust Turkey. However, this is not something you solve by having guarantor countries or other guarantors.
“This is something that can be solved through the protection that the European Union grants its citizens, through the provisions of the UN Charter,” Anastasiades told The Cyprus Weekly.
This involves giving the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) more powers to take action than it has under its current ‘Chapter 6’ mandate.
“Especially with regard to the implementation of the agreement, and possibly in the early stages after the solution, a reinforced peace corps with a different mandate, under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter,” he explained.
While the president says he has raised this issue abroad, he says there will be no meeting of the guarantor powers when Anastasiades and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mustafa Akinci, are in Davos later this month.
“There has been no attempt, nor has there been a hint or any form of invitation for a five-party meeting (on security and guarantees) or for bilateral meetings.”
While the UN could have a stronger role after a settlement, it is very much a Cypriot- and leader-led process in the meantime.
“[UN Special Adviser Espen Barth] Eide does not interfere. So far, talks have been strictly between the two leaders and the negotiators. Mr Eide has not attempted to offer bridging solutions, nor has he been asked to do so,” the president said.
Asked if Eide is contributing positively to the negotiations, Anastasiades said: “I must say that Mr Eide is over optimistic by nature. Often he brushes realities aside for the sake of maintaining a good climate. This may not always be a good thing.”
He said this can sometimes “cause problems for one or the other leader” when “final convergences have not yet been reached on difficult issues”.
Reinforcing the team
Anastasiades is also strengthening his team with the legal services of international agencies.
“Despite the fact that the lawyers working with the negotiating team are distinguished lawmen of Cyprus, hiring the services of specialised companies in matters pertaining to the constitution, security, property, etc, is a sine qua non”.
Expert to help is also in place for the economics of a solution, with technical support under UN auspices from the IMF, the World Bank and the EU.
“Important groundwork is being done by both the IMF and the World Bank, plus others, so that we can have a clear picture of the costs of both the reunification and the running of the new state.”
This will also include “the amounts that will be required for compensations and for the relocation of those who will be moving to areas which will be ceded or of the refugees who will be getting their properties back.”
Benefits outweigh costs
As regards who will pay, Anastasiades hinted at private-sector sources of funding.
“Efforts are being made to collect from various centres, whether this is the US, Europe or Turkey, of course, Britain or other funds and investment banks.”
Asked if a settlement would require a new troika-style memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Troika of international lenders, he said: “You can’t really compare one with the other. Of course the solution will come at a cost, but failing to reach a solution will be more costly. And the benefits to be gained from a solution are far greater than what the continuation of the stalemate will do to the economy.
“Just think of the development and growth which can ensue in the event of a solution to the Cyprus problem, the reconstruction work, investments and the multitude of other positive developments that will follow”.
Property criteria the key
Of course funding a settlement is not possible until an agreement is reached on the thorny question of property. In July, UN envoy Eide announced “the leaders agreed that the individual’s right to property is respected”.
“It should be noted that the owner’s right and first say are perhaps already recognised through the right of compensation claim with the property commission,” said Anastasiades.
“At the same time, the fact that we have people now using Greek Cypriot properties is a reality that cannot be ignored. Legal or not, it is a reality.”
The criteria for deciding what happens to the property are now the main sticking point.
“The difficulties lie elsewhere, in the definition of the criteria. What should the properties committee take into account when exercising its power? This is where most of the differences lie.”