VOLUME 17 ISSUE 6 December 2020

Dr. Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis
Former Cyprus’ Minister of Foreign Affairs


2021 will be extremely critical with regard to developments surrounding the solution of the Cyprus problem, which should remain at the core of our Foreign Policy agenda until a settlement is reached.

The ascendence to the leadership of the Turkish Cypriot community of a leader, who was elected on a two-state/confederation political agenda, which has also been Turkey’s declared objective during the last three years, coupled with the fact that the intercommunal negotiations have remained stalled since their collapse in Crans Montana in July 2017, do not augur well for the restart of the UN sponsored negotiations from the point they were interrupted.

The Turkish side’s aim to change the basis on which the solution of the Cyprus problem has been negotiated since 1977, runs counter to the High-Level agreements between the leaders of the two communities and to numerous United Nations Security Council resolutions, which, inter alia,  have reaffirmed that: “a Cyprus settlement must be based on a State of Cyprus with a single sovereignty and international personality and a single citizenship, with its independence and territorial integrity safeguarded, and comprising two politically equal communities as described in the relevant Security Council resolutions, in a bi-communal and bi-zonal federation, and that such a settlement must exclude union in whole or in part with any other country or any form of partition or secession”.

If 2021 will be critical for the Cyprus problem for the aforementioned reasons, it must be ensured that it will be a year of very intense diplomacy, focusing on securing the maximum support from all our friends and partners in the EU and around the world, towards realizing our efforts to restart the negotiations within the framework of the United Nations resolutions, the convergences reached so far and the 6 point framework of the UN Secretary General. Any attempts of the Turkish side to change the basis of negotiations, should be decisively prevented by the Permanent Members of the UNSC (P5) and our EU partners, as well as any attempts to colonize Varosha and to recognize the secessionist entity in the occupied part of Cyprus. Our Foreign Policy agenda throughout 2021 should focus on achieving these objectives.

Towards that end, an extensive diplomatic campaign should be launched, with the participation of the Government, the House of Representatives, Political Parties, academics, the diaspora and prominent personalities.

The main features and messages of this campaign should include:

-To remind of Turkey’s responsibilities for the continuing military occupation of a sizable territory of the Republic of Cyprus, for the illegal settlement of the occupied areas, for the mass violations of human rights of Greek and Turkish Cypriots alike, for the missing persons, as well as for Turkey’s refusal to transfer, as a matter of priority, Varosha under UN administration and allow the return of its legitimate inhabitants therein, as provided for in UNSC Resolutions 550(1984) and 789(1992).

-To convince unequivocally the international community for our commitment towards a solution, based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation, with political equality as provided in the relevant UNSC resolutions.

-To garner support in denouncing Turkey and the TC leadership for overtly promoting a two-state/ confederation solution and in mounting pressure for their return to the negotiating table on the agreed framework and from the point the negotiations were interrupted in July 2017.

-As a matter of urgency and priority, the government should launch a formal recourse to the UNSC on the issue of Varosha and seek a resolution calling for the immediate transfer of the area to the administration of the UN and for the withdrawal of all Turkish military presence therefrom, to pave the way for the return of the legitimate inhabitants of Varosha to their homes and properties.

– A recourse should also be launched to the UNSC in the event that Turkey attempts recognition by any other country of the secessionist entity in the occupied areas, the so-called “trnc”, whose declaration was unequivocally condemned by UNSC resolutions 541(1983) and 550(1984). Similarly, we should ensure that the European Union will also take measures against Turkey and any other country that might attempt to recognize the “trnc”.

-To intensify pressure from the EU and other countries able to exert influence on Turkey, in order to put an end to Turkey’s violations of Cyprus’ sovereign rights in its EEZ, emphasizing that such illegal conduct jeopardizes international peace and security and is not conducive to a constructive environment for negotiations.

How should we move in our foreign policy, at European and international level, in order for this campaign to be successful?

-Creation and further development of appropriate and meaningful alliances, both within and outside the EU.

-With regard to the UNSC, we should further strengthen our relations with all the P5 countries, as well as the non-Permanent Members, in view of the possibility of recourse to the UNSC on Varosha and possible attempts for recognition.

-Comprehensive, timely and consistent flow of information should be provided to the members of the international community, first and foremost the P5 and our partners in the EU, on our positions on all aspects of the Cyprus problem, identifying issues of possible assistance.

-In addition, it will be necessary to energize forces, from within and outside the EU, including the European Parliament and the Commonwealth, which could contribute catalytically towards the achievement of our objectives.

In order to realize the above objectives and aligned with its primary goal, which should be the solution of the Cyprus problem, Cyprus must pursue a more dynamic and multidimensional foreign policy, relying on its geostrategic importance, which can be best described as a natural bridge between the EU and the Middle East. Emphasis should be placed on history and culture, its key geographic location, excellent relations with the Arab world and Israel, Cyprus’ global reach in the maritime sector and the recent discovery of hydrocarbons in the East Mediterranean.

The aim of all efforts is to achieve a federal solution to the Cyprus problem that will benefit all Cypriots, in the interests of stability and peace in the region, for the benefit of the European Union and the international community as a whole. A solution that will transform Cyprus again into a normal country, with abundant potential for growth, peace and prosperity.