This article was originally published by Europe’s World on 11 Sepember, 2015.
There is no doubt that following the rise of Mustafa Akıncı to become the Turkish Cypriot leader this April, there have been high expectations for a resolution to the Cyprus problem. Nevertheless, it is important to be pragmatic and not underestimate the difficulties. For a real resolution, it is essential to achieve consensus on several major aspects of the problem.
First, there are serious constitutional disagreements between the two sides. The Greek Cypriot position is that the bi-zonal, bi-communal federation and the new partnership are an evolution of the Republic of Cyprus, which is recognised by all countries except Turkey. The Turkish Cypriot position is that the new partnership will involve a new state entity, to be created by two equal and sovereign constituent states. In terms of governance, the Greek Cypriots stress the importance of a unified state with a common society, economy and institutions. Turkish Cypriot positions revolve around entrenching a new situation based on ethno-communal lines. Bridging this gap will be difficult given that the positions reflect two fundamentally opposing philosophies. Furthermore, while the Turkish Cypriot positions are nearer to a confederation, or at best a very loose federation, the Greek Cypriots have in mind a federal arrangement with a rather strong government. It should be stressed that President Nicos Anastasiades himself may be willing to engage in a serious discussion about decentralisation provided he is satisfied on other issues such as territory and property.