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12° Nicosia,
05 February, 2023
 
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The key to the Cyprus problem is again in Nicosia

'The international community and our regional community within the European Union do not currently find the Cyprus problem to be a particularly 'sexy' issue'

by George Kakouris

The international community and our regional community within the European Union do not currently find the Cyprus problem to be a particularly "sexy" issue, but it is still on the table. Despite the presidential candidates' references to joining NATO, notwithstanding Turkey's predictable veto, appointing an EU representative to the talks despite Brussels' established role in the procedure, or somehow picking up where we left off in Crans-Montana without specific plans on how to do so, Brussels and New York are aware of the potential for a solution to the issue.

On the one hand, the Republic of Cyprus's approval is required for the occupied territories to be recognized as a separate state under United Nations principles, the organization's operating procedures, and the leadership's intentions. However, Europe hasn't demonstrated any desire to leave the door open for two Cypriot states to join the EU.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine makes this stance even more pertinent today when the territorial integrity of states is a top concern for the international community.

To put it another way, the comparison between the situations involving Ukraine and Cyprus is not accurate because it relies on the passive-aggressive remark, "But why don't you sanction Turkey for 1974?" The topic is the future and the specific time in the global scene when there is no desire to discuss changing internationally recognized borders.

The borders of the Republic of Cyprus in this context are situated off the island of Cyprus, and at this time, the only participation available to the international community for the TC community is membership in a federal Cypriot state that is a member of the EU.

And the reason I insist on a federal solution is not idealistic; rather, it is pragmatic. Only one type of solution has been thoroughly discussed by the relevant parties as a potential alternative to the status quo.

However, the prospects for a federal solution and the status of the Republic of Cyprus do not come without obligations. If the G/C side has been successful in preventing the T/C side from being recognized as a state, it has done so because we are willing to share state governance with the T/C community.

This was true when the Cyprus problem was present and a process was underway, and it is still true today when the status quo of the Cyprus problem has ended and we are experiencing the monstrosities of the instability that the world and our region are currently experiencing.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has sparked a global crisis, which Turkey's arrogant behavior does not always help with for its own reasons. A crisis is becoming more likely as a result of the impending Turkish elections, Erdogan's desire to win re-election, and the "system" of states involved in the Cyprus issue. And it's getting worse because of the upcoming presidential elections, Greece's obsession with energy, the wiretapping scandal, the lack of a serious voice on the official T/C side, and Greece's singular focus on energy.

According to the adage popularized in 2013 in Cyprus, crises also present opportunities. But once more, it is up to us to seize any opportunity that presents itself to stop the unchecked deterioration of the Cyprus issue and to set the stage for a serious and lasting resolution.

As in 2014–2017, in a more tranquil international setting, Nicosia—not Ankara—holds the key. But not government-controlled, or southern, Nicosia, nor occupied, or northern, Nicosia. But by whether the will of both the Greek and the Turkish Cypriots can be expressed together.

Leaving behind fears about Turkey's role in a federal state (which can only be contained when g/c and t/c have common interests), and leaving behind dependency on the t/c side.

Unfortunately, both the Greek and Turkish sides are currently headless.  Otherwise, visionary and daring politicians could fill the void now, before the elections, to give the country a true guarantee of independence.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

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