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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 25 July 2015
10 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 25 JULY 2015 TURKISH INVASION ‘Mustafa Akinci understands the crime that happened against Greek Cypriots’ ANASTASIA TSIRTSAKIS On a visit to Australia this week, Cyprus' Minister of Agriculture Nikos Kougiales told Neos Kosmos he is optimistic about the direction of current negotiations. "We hope we'll have a sincere and substantial talk, and I hope by the end of these talks something positive will happen for the Cyprus problem," Mr Kougiales said. The minister says the recent election of Turkish community leader Mustafa Akinci may be a game-changer in the ongoing discussions to find a resolution to 'the Cyprus issue'. "Mr Akinci has a very posi- tive attitude. The way he behaves and what he has said the negotiations. the last month is positive, and it seems that he understands what happened in Cyprus in 1974; he understands the crime that happened against Greek Cypriots and I'm pretty confident that if he continues to behave the same way, that an agreement will be reached," said Mr Kougiales. Despite the agreement Greece has reached with its creditors, the state of Greece's weakened economy has raised fears that the country's perilous situation might impact Cyprus' negotiating position within the United Nations, but it's not a concern shared by the minister. "Of course we always like Greece to be strong economically, but I don't think this weakness of Greece will affect "Greece is always there for Cyprus … always supports the negotiations … and Turkey has to do the same thing," Mr Kougiales added. With Cyprus' own economy in huge difficulty two years ago, and faced with its own €10 billion bailout, the minister says he is confident that the tide has turned. "I think the banking system and the economy are becoming stable now. Pretty soon we will get out of the financial support mechanism. We expect to see some higher rates of growth and I expect 2016 will be a good year for the Cypriot economy," he said. The minister's first appearance down under took place in Sydney last Sunday, when Greek and Cypriot communities gathered to show their solidarity in a church service for the fallen of the 1974 invasion. Following a visit to South Australia, the minister was due to attend a demonstra- TURKISH INVASION OF CYPRUS 41ST DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM ANNIVERSARY Minister Kougiales upbeat on talks Cyprus’ president Nicos Anastasiades (left) and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci (right), at a bi-communal event in Nicosia earlier this month. PHOTO: AP PHOTO/PAVLOS VRIONIDES tion scheduled for yesterday evening at the Victorian Parliament, followed by a candlelight vigil. Events marking the 41st an- niversary of the Turkish invasion which the minister will attend have been organised nationwide by the Pan-Australian Justice for Cyprus Co- Untying the Cyprus knot Is a focus on diplomacy holding back reunification? asks Michális S. Michael When Cypriots are frustrated by a difficult situation, they often say "it has become like the Cyprus problem!". Such exclamations are typical of the cynical way Cypriots greet any new peace effort to resolve the long-standing 'Cyprus problem' and bring about reunification. With the election of a new Turkish Cypriot leader, Mustafa Akinci (undoubtedly one of the most conciliatory political figures in Cyprus), in discussions with his Greek Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades, who supported the 2004 Annan Plan, one has to wonder whether this, indeed, may be the last chance of reunifying the island - at least on its bicommunal-bizonal federated basis. Predictably, every new initiative reminds us: Why, despite 40 years of endless negotiations and countless proposals, has the Cyprus conflict not been resolved? Part of the answer may be found in the limitation of traditional diplomacy. An assessment of the political psychol- ogy of the Cyprus talks reveals that since the acceptance of a bicommunal/bizonal federation, negotiations have followed a repetitious pattern where disagreements on substantial issues saw both sides eventually retreating to the comfort offered by their entrenched positions. As talks progressed they in- evitably became more complicated, with the introduction of greater detail and new points of disputation. In addition, talks were often hampered by different interpretations to what had previously been agreed. Further hindering the process were the different motives, priorities, preferences, and objectives of the two sides such as: maintaining/ changing the status quo, unification/separatism, federation/ confederation, unitarism/decentralisation. So, fundamentally, disagreement over federal reunification (or unitary devolution) revolved around its form, structure, and power-sharing. Underlying these differences is the lingering climate of mistrust between the two sides and their sense of insecurity, which means perpetuation of the status quo. “As the Greek crisis has recently revealed, any successful remedy to Cyprus’ current woes needs to be complemented with an optimistic narrative...” The conclusion from any assessment of the Cyprus talks is that in their current form, and in isolation of other initiatives, they cannot overcome the political and psychological obstacles that prevent a negotiated settlement. Their failure stems from their incapacity to address a number of problems; the main one being that the negotiations have developed a logic and timing of their own, which does not necessarily correspond to the psychology of the political situation it seeks to remedy. In addition, the common interests shared by the two communities and the mutual benefits that could result from a negotiated settlement have not been sufficiently elaborated or emphasised. Conflicts are rarely one-dimensional or static. Over time they develop their own language, culture and psychology. As with most conflicts, to break the pathology of the status quo in Cyprus requires new approaches capable of introducing and communicating new ideas, opportunities and parties that links into the peace process. The problem with concentrating exclusively on official diplomacy, striving for a political settlement while neglecting the need to change the realities on the ground, was borne out during the ill-fated 2004 referendum and the 20082012 'Cypriot-owned, Cypriot-led' negotiations. Ultimately, the challenge confronting Cyprus, its communities and its people lies in their capacity and will to transcend the complacency of- ordinating Committee (PASEKA). Constantinos Procopiou, president of PASEKA, said the rallies and other ceremonies across Australia not only paid tribute to those who lost their lives in the invasion, but were a demonstration "against the continuing occupation of Cy- prus, and a show of our support to the struggle for freedom". Tomorrow a liturgy will take place at the church of Saint Efstathios in South Melbourne, followed by a protest march at 12.30 pm commencing and ending on the steps of the Victorian parliament. A soldier in front of the Tymvos Makedonitissa military cemetery in Nico- sia during the 41st anniversary commemorations of the invasion. PHOTO: EPA/KATIA CHRISTODOULOU. fered by the current status quo and come up with a political arrangement that overcomes their historical insecurities. But this is not enough. As the Greek crisis has recently revealed, any successful remedy to Cyprus' current woes needs to be complemented with an optimistic narrative, one that affords Cypriots confidence, security, a sense of justice and a belief in the future. As Cypriots need to overcome their past and create their own destiny, there is always the danger that if they stall for too long, such passivity will, by osmosis and over time, ensconce a permanent division and the anathema of partition. Dr Michális S. Michael is an honorary senior research fellow at La Trobe University, director of the Centre for Dialogue, and author of Resolving the Cyprus Conflict: Negotiating History (Palgrave Macmillan).
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