By Chris Elliott……..
Following the fascinating article by Roger L Jennings’ “Silent Diplomacy in Turkey – Looking back at how it happened” click here, he has written a review of how he views the Cyprus negotiations developing and what the alternatives could be.
In this complex world of international politics one wonders whether those plotting and scheming think outside the box and in this respect I am reminded of one of the closing paragraphs of Roger L Jennings last article.
“Some of the greatest diplomatic work is done by people who are not “diplomats.” Diplomatic success is built on good deeds and trust. Then one achievement, like removing the minorities, can lead to another, like arming Turkey and then arming our ally Russia. This is diplomacy unknown to the diplomats. These are diplomatic successes they could not achieve.”
Missing in the Negotiations
Roger L. Jennings……..
The political news of an agreement between Greek and Turkish Cypriots is imminent. Don’t believe the news.
Presidents Akinci and Anastasiades can agree to anything they want, but if the voters do not approve, many months of work will be wasted.
If the Annan Plan is a guide, the Greek Cypriots will vote against an agreement. Polls show that some 60% of the Greek Cypriots are opposed to an agreement. In recent elections 6 of 8 Greek Cypriot political parties were opposed. President Anastasiades does not speak for the majority of Greek Cypriots.
What happens if the agreement is voted down? The Turkish Cypriots will give up on an agreement. Turkey which provides military protection and funds to balance the budget in the TRNC will become more controlling. That is not good for the Greek Cypriots.
Gas in the Mediterranean will become the principal objective of the Republic of Turkey. Russia, Iran and the Kurds are not reliable resources of gas for Turkey. The Greek Cypriots will not be able to resist the Turkish military, if Turkey decides to seize the gas. Gas is critical to the Turkish economy.
The future of the Greek Cypriots appears grim. Neither the Greek Cypriot leaders nor the Turkish Cypriot leaders have talked about options. They are fully invested in an agreement the Greek Cypriot people might not, probably will not, approve.
There are a lot of reasons for the Greek Cypriots to vote against an agreement. These reasons were never addressed by the Turkish Cypriots before the negotiations started. That was a critical mistake.
Why would the Greek Cypriots want to partner with Turkish Cypriots when the GDP per capita of Greek Cypriots is about $26,000 compared to $15,000 for the Turkish Cypriots? The Greek Cypriots have their own economic problems and do not want to be contributing to the Turkish Cypriot economy.
The Greek Cypriot population outnumbers the Turkish Cypriot population by almost 4 to 1. The majority does not ever want to be controlled by the minority. These are two peoples. Greeks do not want to be Turks, and Turks do not want to be Greeks. The leaders need to face this basic fact.
And then, there is the history of Turkish violence against Greeks. Of course, the Greeks were never responsible for any of this violence, or so many Greeks believe. The landing of the Greek Army in Smyrna in 1919 and immediately on the first day killing of innocent Turks, according to the Inter-Allied Inquiry Commission report published on the internet, was acceptable. The Treaty of Sevres allowed this, although the nationalist government of Turkey rejected that agreement. The fact remains, many people of Greek heritage do not like Turks.
All of these reasons for Greek Cypriots voting against an agreement make the failure appear to be the responsibility of the Greek Cypriots. Actually, the truth is quite different.
The future of Cyprus is in the hands of the Turkish Cypriots.
First, they must raise the GDP per capita to equal the Greek Cypriots. That can be achieved easily. Then the TRNC will not be financially dependent on Turkey and subject to the full degree of influence of Turkey. The Greek Cypriots should want that objective achieved.
No country in the world, except Turkey, recognizes the TRNC. The TRNC does not have treaty obligations with the world. So the TRNC could declare itself the new Switzerland with numbered bank accounts. Switzerland is now reporting this once confidential information to tax authorities around the world. Those depositors would move their money to the TRNC. That would be good for the Greek Cypriots.
The Turkish Cypriot banks would have to invest the funds they receive. The Greek Cypriots with profitable projects would have funds available from the TRNC banks. That would create much needed jobs in south Cyprus. Of course, the TRNC banks could and should employ Greek Cypriots in north Cyprus. Those would be high paying jobs.
Most of the investments would be outside the island of Cyprus. Money could be invested, for example, in Greece, if the Greeks can ever straighten out their politics.
Second, the issue of gas must be confronted. Gas is the feedstock to produce many products, including fertilizer, synthetics (polyester, nylon, rayon), paint, and cosmetics. The power plants in Cyprus could be fueled with clean, inexpensive gas rather than imported diesel. Gas in the world market today is cheap.
The Turkish Cypriots should, today, start building the facilities to convert gas to higher value products, and then start importing gas. That would create high paying jobs for Turkish and Greek Cypriots. Sales of these products would provide for better lives. Greek and Turkish Cypriots would be working together to achieve shared objectives, and that would help to change attitudes.
The Greek Cypriot politicians want to liquefy and sell the Mediterranean gas. The investment required raises the cost of gas. That choice does not make economic sense. The Turkish Cypriots want to export the gas to Turkey. Why? The Turks are paying the bills in the TRNC. Selling the gas to Turks in competition on price with Russia, Iran and other sources with vast quantities of gas at low cost makes no business sense for Cyprus. If Cypriot gas is sold, the future of the Cypriot people is being sold.
If Cypriot gas has a higher cost than gas from other parts of the world, the cost will be protected by the value added when the gas is converted to other products like synthetics. That provides financial security for all Cypriots. Selling the raw gas would be a huge mistake, but that is what the politicians want to do. Politicians make decisions for political reasons and not economic reasons that benefit the people they are supposed to represent.
When Greek Cypriots consider making the TRNC a sovereign little Switzerland with funding to convert gas to other products that create jobs and wealth for Greek Cypriots, then the Greek Cypriots should want the TRNC to be an independent sovereign country. The Turkish Cypriots could be the best partner and friend the Greek Cypriots ever had.
Third, the TRNC has a large university system, but does not have jobs for most graduates. All these young, bright minds leave Cyprus. The universities could provide the future leaders in the banks and new companies that make, sell and ship products made from gas.
The Turkish leaders must address and solve the negative attitude Greek Cypriots have towards Turkish Cypriots. That is a pre-condition to any negotiation. That pre-condition has not been met, and that is a major reason why the current negotiations will probably end with a negative vote by the Greek Cypriots.
The starting point to changing attitudes is the Archbishop. Currently he opposes an agreement. He also opposed the Annan Plan. He with his army of priests has more influence with the Greek Cypriot people than the leaders of any political party.
The Turkish Cypriot leaders should ask the Archbishop to identify Christian sites in the TRNC he wants repaired from the violence of 1974. The Turkish Cypriots should pay for the materials and provide the payroll for work by unemployed Greek Cypriots under the supervision of Church leaders. The Archbishop is very concerned about unemployed Greek Cypriots.
The Apostolos Andreas Monastery and Lela Mustafa Pasha Mosque should be offered to the Archbishop. The mosque was once a Christian church and should be restored for use by the Christians of Cyprus, including the Greek Orthodox. These religious sites are national treasures that would attract tourists from around the world to the TRNC.
The negotiating conditions, prospects and consequences suggest that the result is not within the control of President Anastasiades, but rather rests solely with President Akinci. The Greek Cypriots have more to gain by a TRNC that is financially independent from Turkey and a source of wealth for south Cyprus.
The sad truth is all this analysis has been provided to President Akinci, but he has chosen to ignore all this. The failure of the talks will rest on his shoulders alone, but the consequences will be felt by all.