Is Turkey’s crisis proof we were right to say ‘no’?
EACH time Turkey is going through a crisis, there is a renewal of the argument that it would never have implemented the Annan plan and, therefore, a solution based on it was far from being a guaranteed option. The manner in which this argument has been used by those who had stoutly supported a ‘no’ vote contains a number of contradictions. Their 2004 position was that it was a blatantly pro-Turkish plan, dissolving our state and turning it into a Turkish protectorate. Today, they have recanted this argument and admit that since the plan was not so favourable for Turkey it had every reason to circumvent its implementation.
It is a politically na?ve position to argue that “since Erdogan cannot elect a President of Turkey how could he implement the solution of the Cyprus problem”. If the Cyprus problem had been solved, the whole of the island would have been part of Europe. Today, the acquis is suspended in the occupied areas and the whole island is only theoretically part of Europe. The European Union is not concerned by the uncontrolled influx of mainland Turkish settlers but only by the danger that they could easily move to the south. In other words, a solution of the Cyprus problem would have meant that the borders of Europe were in Kyrenia. Today, the de facto reality is that they end in the Ayios Pavlos suburb of Nicosia.
A failure to implement the solution on behalf of Turkey would have meant that the sovereignty of an EU member-state was under dispute, a development that by itself would have been sufficient to cause extensive complications to the functioning of the European Union.
Such a move by Turkey would be tantamount to a Russian attack against Estonia. It is inconceivable that this step could ever have taken place because Europe would never tolerate it. Does Turkey have the strength to confront the whole of Europe? Is it possible that the EU would accept this large-scale deviation from what had been agreed?
Moreover, the Security Council and the United States were the guarantors of the agreement and it is inconceivable that they would have allowed Turkey to jeopardise an agreement for resolving an international dispute, which was projected as a model for similar disputes around the world.
Is Turkey so strong that it can brazenly confront the whole world? Finally, if Cyprus cannot trust the European Union and the United Nations as credible guarantors of a solution, then why are we insisting that the Cyprus issue should be resolved through negotiations?
If in 2004, with the whole world standing by our side, we believed that the guarantees for implementing the solution were not strong enough, then what more can we gain from an agreement based on the July 8 procedure, which oddly enough is supported by those who have been arguing that Turkey would never have implemented the solution? Unless the July 8 agreement is yet another communications ploy, like the one of 2003, when we never tired of accusing Denktash in various international fora that he accepted the Annan plan only as a point of reference, whereas our side believed it was the basis for a solution!
Concerns about the implementation of a solution could easily be viewed from the opposite perspective. We had to predict the future complications arising in the path of Turkey’s accession process, either because of internal reasons (such as the current crisis) or because of external ones (such as the election of Nicolas Sarkozy). We had to take advantage of that particular moment in history, when Turkey was fervently seeking a date for the start of accession negotiations with the EU and there was a strong prospect that it would join as a member.
Instead, we have followed a policy based on the pursuit of a solution in the long term, while simultaneously taking advantage of our position as an EU member. Such a policy, however, carries bigger and more dangerous risks than those that would have resulted had we accepted the proposed plan.
Another arguments used, and one that has a wide appeal among public opinion, is that we would have dissolved our state and left ourselves exposed.
Our state is not a simple object that can be lost. A state consists of territory, population, institutions and its recognition. Our state would have become stronger and bigger. Stretching from the Cape of Saint Andreas to the harbour of Paphos, it was going to become a member of the most powerful political and economic club in the world.
The Turkish Cypriots, for political, economic and, even, for reasons of self interest, would have chosen Europe over Anatolia. Through a proper policy (not like the one we followed between 1960 and 1963), the implementation of the solution would not be dependent on Turkey. Any attempt by Turkey to try and complicate the situation could become a boomerang and irrevocably cut the umbilical cord between Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots. Provided, however, that we had leaders with a vision and not scare mongers.