President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) M. A. Talat and the general secretary of the Progressive Party of the Work-ing People of Greek Cyprus (AKEL), Greek Cyprus’s largest political party, D. Hristofias, were once “comrades” when they were both part of the opposition. Politically, they were on the extreme left and were flying white pigeons representing peace on the island. “Turkish Cypriots are our brothers. Our arms are wide open to them. We can live together like bosom friends,” were the cant phrases of Mr. Hristofias, who is also president of the Greek Cypriot Assembly.
AKEL and the KKTC’s Republican Turks’ Party (CTP) — once President Talat became the chairman — were in deep collaboration from the establishment of the CTP in 1970.
In the Turkish Cypriot press, a local newspaper once published an article about the financing by AKEL of printing machines used for publishing the CTP’s political newspaper titled “Yeni Düzen,” or “New Order.”
Still, the youngsters of both political parties get together from time to time and engage in bi-communal activities.
Suddenly, a magic wand touched Hristofias after he declared his candidacy in the coming presidential elections and his good feelings and wishes toward Turkish Cypriots vanished.
The same probably happened to President Talat, and his vision toward Greek Cypriots and the idea of living together has changed a lot since he was elected president of the KKTC in April 2005.
The opposition days are over now and both deeply feel for the concerns of their people ahead of their own ideas and feelings. During the opposition days, it was quite easy to talk through one’s hat with no responsibility.
A couple of days ago, the presidents of Cyprus finally met at the residence of the UN secretary-general’s special representative to Cy-prus, Michael Moller, situated in the UN-controlled buffer zone in Lef-kosa (Nicosia), the capital of both sides of the island, after 14 months of stagnation.
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.
In this meeting, Turkish Cypriot proposals aimed for a sustaina-ble, comprehensive solution on the island. Mr. Talat proposed an acce-lerated preparatory process for a solution in the shortest time possible, but not later than the end of 2008. Starting substantive negotiations after two to two-and-a-half months of preparatory work, with a deadline for a comprehensive settlement goal being the end of 2008, constituted the core of his constructive proposal.
The Turkish Cypriot proposals were turned down by Mr. Tassos Papadopoulos right away. He only agreed to continue contact through the UN and if progress was reached, to meet with the Turkish Cypriot president, subject to no time limit.
It has been 39 years since the first meeting took place in Beirut in 1968 and with 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.
This attitude of Mr. Papadopoulos clearly indicated the unwil-lingness of Greek Cypriots to attain a sustainable, peaceful solution to the Cyprus problem. Otherwise they would have accepted the accele-rated negotiations proposal of Mr. Talat, to bring peace to the island for good before the beginning of year 2009.
Mr. Hristofias, the vernal candidate, irrespective of his sayings for a sustainable and peaceful solution in the island for the past thirty years, unexpectedly backed up Papadopoulos, his rival in the presi-dential election, and condemned Talat for his constructive proposal.
Mr. Hristofias was quite afraid of being accused of being a Turco-phile and denied all his past comments.
A solution in the form of a federal government, constituted by the two people of the island, seems quite far from Cyprus. Two separate states living side-by-side would be a better and peaceful solution on the island, as proposed by the Liberals of the EU.