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It is evident from both Talat and S. Denktash’s statements that they will give priority to solving the Cyprus problem by 3 October and to this end will give priority to negotiating the changes to the Annan plan desired by the Greek Cypriots. To assess the consequences of this approach it is useful first to look at the Greek Cypriot position.
The Annan Plan does not favour the Turks. Kofi Annan in his report following the 24 April referendum showed article by article just how much this plan favours the Greek Cypriots. This was not enough for Papadopoulos. Exploiting his veto during Turkey’s accession talks, he aimed to secure even more than the Annan Plan granted him. He wanted Turkey to recognise the Greek Cypriots as the Cyprus Republic and to withdraw its armed forces. He thus hopes to reduce the Turks to the status of minority and to force us to accept the fait accompli created after 1963 and thus secure its legitimacy. If the plan is now reopened for negotiations, there is no reason to expect the additional compromises requested by the Greek Cypriots to fall short of recognition.
Moreover, Papadopoulos refuses to accept Kofi Annan’s goodwill mission as a form of arbitration and insists on the negotiations being bound to a timetable. Finally, he wishes to negotiate not with Talat but with Erdoðan. He thus aims to initiate a Cyprus negotiation process parallel to the EU accession negotiations and to remove the negotiations from the UN and relocate them within the EU.
At the same time, by inserting certain articles into the Additional Protocol to the Ankara Agreement, he continues to push for recognition by Turkey.
Under these circumstances it is not even clear whether the new TRNC government will restart the ‘bicommunal negotiations’. Papadopoulos, at a time when Denktash is withdrawing from the presidency, will continue to impose conditions on a TRNC government that he sees as keen to achieve a speedy solution.
Let us assume that the bicommunal negotiations start. In order to conclude these negotiations by 3 October it will be necessary to acquiesce to Papadopoulos’ extreme demands. If this does not happen, the Greek Cypriots will leave a solution until after 3 October and as the accession talks commence test the efficacy of their veto.
Imagine that negotiations start and the Greek Cypriots surprise everyone by accepting the Annan Plan with a few modest alterations and the problem is solved before 3 October. Then the Turkish Cypriots will unite with the Greek Cypriots and take their place in the EU. But this will happen at a time when Turkish membership enters a much more uncertain period compared to the period when the first five versions of the Annan Plan were drawn up. If Turkey does not accede to the EU, there will arise a situation that is both contrary to the Treaty of Guarantee and where Turkey will de facto forfeit its rights and authority as a guarantor.
The loss of the Cyprus cause in this way will on the one hand open the way for a deep polarisation in the Turkish sector that carries with it the threat of conflict and on the other hand create a negative precedent in particular with respect to the Aegean questions, allegations concerning the Armenian genocide and ‘minorities’.
The EU and America, with their steadfast refusal to lift their embargos even though the Turkish Cypriots approved the Annan Plan in the referendum, are contributing to the appearance of this serious situation. The inability of the UBP to renew itself serves to further weaken the Turkish side, negotiating as it is from a weak position with the Greek Cypriots. If this party, unable to free itself from the leadership malaise afflicting Turkish political parties, fails to make the necessary changes before the presidential elections, the UBP will continue to decline and this party will become an irrelevance for the defence of the Turkish Cypriots. Then Talat will remain as the sole hope.
In psychology the defeat of an aged leader by a young rival is known as the ‘patricidal ritual’. The ‘son’, who previously opposed the views of the ‘father’, adopts the ‘father’s’ policy on coming to power. We saw this in the contest between Ýsmet Ýnönü and Bülent Ecevit. It will be interesting to see if Talat will confirm this rule.