Both presidents of Cyprus finally met at the residence of the UN secretary general’s special representative to Cyprus, Michael Moller, situated in the UN-controlled buffer zone in Lefkosa (Nicosia), the capi-tal town of both Cypruses, after 14 months of stagnation.
The UN has had a presence on the island since March 1964 and has posts in critical locations, most of which are in buffer zones.
“No agenda” was set for this meeting, the first since the July 8, 2006, when the two leaders were brought together by the former UN Undersecretary General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari during a visit to the island. At the end of a three-hour-long meeting, the two leaders agreed only on the need for a start of a new process toward bringing about a solution to the Cyprus problem.
The negotiations on the Cyprus problem finally started, after fierce clashes between the two peoples of the island, in March 1968 in Beirut, Lebanon. Rauf Denktaş and Glafkos Klerides, participated in the discussions held under the auspices of the UN.
Since then, due to the international recognition of the Greek Cy-priot administration by the West, no progress has been achieved. Greek Cypriots have enjoyed the benefits of international recognition and never wished to share it with Turkish Cypriots, who were the actual and active partners of the Republic of Cyprus, declared in August 1960 and kicked out from the partnership by the brute force of Greek Cypri-ots in Dec. 21, 1963 — the beginning of the conflict in Cyprus.
In this meeting Turkish Cypriot proposals aimed for a sustainable comprehensive solution on the island. Participants of this meeting hoped for an accelerated preparatory process for a solution in the shortest time possible, but not later than the end of 2008. The Turkish Cypriot proposal included adjustments and speeding up of the Gambari process — a set of proposals by the UN’s Gambari that hope to resolve the Cyprus issue. Starting substantive negotiations after two to two-and-a-half months of preparatory work, with a deadline for a com-prehensive settlement goal being the end of 2008, constituted the core of this constructive proposal.
All of these Turkish Cypriot proposals were turned down by Mr. Tassos Papadopoulos. He only accepted to continue contact through the UN, and if progress was reached to meet with Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet Ali Talat, subject to no time limit. The same time restriction was also implemented for Papadopoulos’ formation of several committees, to which the Cyprus issue was to be referred. However, it is still ambiguous how long this time period will be.
It has been 39 years since the first meeting took place in Beirut and according to this mentality of Mr. Papadopoulos, it will likely take another 40 years to come close to a possibility of a sustainable com-prehensive solution on the island.
In fact, during the past 14 months since the first meeting of the Gambari process, even one of the committees envisaged by the July 8 process has not been formed yet. Actually, the core of the Gambari implications was to set up “technical committees” to handle “humani-tarian cases” between the two peoples on the island.
The idea originated from the bird flu case, which initially ap-peared in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC), in which the Greek Cypriots refused to cooperate. When there was a homicide in Greek Cyprus, this lack of cooperation continued. While all the evi-dence was in the hands of the Greek Cypriot Police, the suspects were in the hands of the Turkish Cypriot Police.
In both cases, the Greek Cypriot bureaucrats and police officers refused to cooperate with their counterparts on the Turkish Cypriot side. Bird flu crossed the border, carried by migrating birds; the murder suspects were released due to a shortage of evidence.
So far the humanitarian technical committee hasn’t been formed because of the unwillingness of the Greek Cypriot side. It is quite ob-vious that the Greek Cypriot side is not seeking to resume substantive negotiations as much as the Turkish Cypriot side is as they wish to enjoy the EU membership and international recognition alone.
To bring a sustainable solution to the island, recognition of the KKTC would be the best next step, as proposed by Greek Cypriot Member of the European Parliament Marios Matsakis.