A new chapter in Cypriot Politics,
or is it?
By Ismail Veli…….
The Turkish Cypriot people have elected a new President. Mustafa Akinci who won a resounding victory by winning 60.5% of the votes, with the outgoing Dervish Eroglu only getting 39.5%. The turnout at 64 percent of eligible voters was much lower than past elections. No doubt this seems to many TCs to be a new beginning.
Corruption, despotism and exhaustion with the state of politics in the TRNC have all played a part in the people electing Akinci, a left wing independent politician who has an ambition to finally settle the 60 year, never ending Cyprus problem.
Aside from the immense internal problems, solving the Cyprus problem will be a massive challenge. Once the initial euphoria has settled Akinci will no doubt be faced with immense problems, not least in negotiating a settlement with a weak and indecisive Greek Cypriot leader Anastasiades, who seems more content with finding excuses not to negotiate, rather than attempting to win the honour of settling a dispute which seems never ending. Akinci’s persona and intention to help solve the intractable problem and creating a Bi-zonal, Bi-communal Federation is well known. The international community is well aware of this, as are the vast majority of Greek Cypriots (GCs). Will this be enough? Rather than be happy there is a sneaky feeling that many GC party leaders may feel uncomfortable with the growing international realisation that perhaps the GCs are not really prepared to form a power sharing government that will help bury the enmity of the past.
The historical Greek rejections of 14 out of 16 plans with one Turkish rejection and one equal rejection are well documented. The last one being the Annan plan of 2004 which saw an overwhelming rejection by 76% of the GCs came as a massive shock, not only for TCs, but to the international hopes that the Cyprus problem was finally on the verge of being solved. That was then however. Eleven years on the TCs population have sent a powerful message that they are electing a leader that has the will and ambition to solve the problem.
Raising one’s hopes is not the easiest of routes for TCs who have been disappointed so often in the past. Not least by the international promises to lift the embargoes on the TCs who have shown a desire for peace. To believe we have a Messiah of conflict resolution would be a big mistake for TCs. It takes two to tango, and sadly as we have seen in the past the Cyprus problem seems to have its own dynamics. Whether the GC leader has the foresight and conviction to rise to the challenge is something that Mustafa Akinci may find the biggest obstacle to his dreams of uniting Cyprus. Only time will tell. One thing is for certain however, many people will not blame Akinci for any failure, and if the GC leadership finally comes to the realisation that the international community, not least the United Nations are simply fed up of this never ending saga, they will simply walk away and wash their hands of Cyprus.
With the world in perpetual turmoil, Cyprus is simply seen as just a pointless nuisance on the international stage. If all fails, Mustafa Akinci will end up with the same disappointment that Mehmet Ali Talat (the former TC President) faced with the Greek leader Christofyas. Anastasiades would be well warned to reflect on the price of failure. It would be ironic if permanent partition became an accepted reality under the leadership of Anastasiades who supported the Annan plan in 2004, and Mustafa Akinci whose life ambition is to unite Cyprus. That would be a tragedy written only in a horror story for those that believe in Unity.