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Ahmet Sözen: Greek and Turkish Cypriot Leaders Need Courage to Reach an End Game (EXCLUSIVE)


"Armedia" IAA presents an EXCLUSIVE interview with Prof. Dr. Ahmet Sözen Director of Cyprus Policy Center and member of the Department of International Relations, Eastern Mediterranean University, on the reasons of failure of negotiations over Cyprus issue and about possible developments in this regard. 



- The international community had serious expectations from the talks held in Switzerland on the settlement of the Cyprus issue. Which were the main reasons for the failure of the negotiations?

- First of all let me make it clear that it was not the whole negotiation process that crushed. It was a particular negotiation on the territorial aspects of Cyprus problem that failed in Mont Pelerin, Switzerland. I will say that the main reason why it failed is the lack of clear political will on the side of leadership to make the final crucial decisions on Cyprus issue. What I mean is that we are at the point in the Cyprus problem when the two leaders are required to take courageous or bold actions in terms of "give-and-take" process. And it seems that there is a lack of political will or political courage on the side of leadership to take a next step. Taking that step would mean taking the Cyprus issue to "the end game;" the term used by the United Nations. It will be the final phase of the Cyprus problem, when, what we call, the guarantor powers will come to resolve the last issue which is the security and guarantees (United Kingdom, Turkey and Greece will come together as guarantor powers to resolve the remaining issues).   

So far the leaders of the Turkish and Greek Cyprus have been trying to resolve internal problems and they have reached agreements on most of the issues. There are couple of issues left which are crucial and need "give-and-take" process that the leaders have to engage in. For example, the Turkish Cypriot leader will give a part of the territory to Greek Cyprus, while Greek Cypriot leader will accept political equality of the Turkish Cyprus.


- How was this moment different from other negotiations? What was the reason that made a success seem so near?

- So far I think the two leaders in Cyprus have taken a lot of steps toward progress almost on all issues. They have discussed almost all of the issues, which was not the case before, because security guarantees and territorial issues have not been discussed that much in the past. The other difference from the previous negotiations is that this time it was truly Cypriot process, meaning that there were no external actors other than Turkish and Greek Cypriots who have been involved in the Cyprus negotiations directly. So, whatever they produce, all the convergences, agreements are produced by the two leaders. Even the statements are endorsed by them from the comma to the full stop.  So, for example, the UN’s involvement, is minimal. The UN Good Office in Cyprus is just facilitating talks; they are not endorsing anything unlike in the past. For example, in 2004 the UN played the role of  an arbitrator and filled the gaps that the two sides can not fill.


- Will the sides be able to find ways of coming out from this deadlock and what are the preconditions for this?

- Let me start with the last part of the question. The preconditions are to start the dialogue again without any preconditions. If the two sides insist on preconditions they cannot really go back to the negotiation table. Besides, there should also be a new roadmap. The leaders should not just engage in endless negotiations without timeframes or without roadmap. The two leaders should get engaged first on the roadmap that will have their future steps and that will take them to the end game. So there should be a clear roadmap that they should adopt before they get engaged in substantive negotiations.

Now, let’s refer to the first part of your question. I think that everybody, including Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, the UN Good Office that facilitates the negotiations, have invested so much time and efforts in the last 18 mounts, when this last round of negotiations started. So it is purely idiotic and foolish to let this much effort and progress "to steam down drains". We need the two leaders to come to their senses. The two motherlands, Greece and Turkey, as guarantor powers, should also engage in communication between two of them and encourage the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaderships to come to a process that will lead to endgame.

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