Russian premier Vladimir Putin told President Nicos Anastasiades that he wants a new Conference on Cyprus that would include the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. The powers are China, France, the United Kingdom, the US and Russia.
Anastasiades is on a state visit to Russia, and said he is ready to renew efforts to reunify the island.
Reunification talks ended in disarray in July after the security guarantors attended the last Conference on Cyprus in Crans Montana, Switzerland on June 28th. UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson attended the meetings in Crans Montana which centred around the issues of guarantors and security. President Nicos Anastasiades rejected having guarantors, saying it is an outdated system with no place in the European Union. But Turkey insisted on staying as a guarantor, alarming Greece, which rejects any situation in which Turkey is the sole guarantor. The Turkish-Cypriot side backs Turkey’s position. UK Prime Minister Theresa May said she will back the agreement made by the Cypriot political leaders. In the end, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres ended the sessions on the basis that an agreement wasn’t possible at that stage.
After its 1974 invasion and decades-long occupation, Turkey has in fact breached the terms of the guarantor treaty, which only allows for a short-term intervention. Years of international disapproval have made not a single dent on Turkey’s ruthless determination to control a foreign country. Even against the preference of the Turkish Cypriots, who resent Turkey’s army, the flood of settlers, and the insufferable political control exerted over their heads.
The formula for a solution is still out of reach. Political equality normally means one man, one vote, but with the Turkish Cypriots being a minority community, this can only work with good relations and peaceful reintegration into the democratic system. A complicated weighted vote may end up the same way as the original power sharing system in 1960 – rejected and abandoned in one way or the other by the Turkish Cypriots or Greek Cypriots.
Apartheid is a form of government in which the minority unfairly rules the majority, so the negotiators have to avoid the trap of putting the Turkish Cypriots into the position of unfairly ruling over the Greek Cypriots. Fairness, balance and human rights must be the foundations of any peace accord and constitution in today’s European Union.
An international conference on Cyprus would present a mind-boggling level of political complexity. EU-Russian relations are not great at present, given EU sanctions on Russia over the re-absorption of Crimea. The United Kingdom is on its way out of the EU so there are plenty of sensitivities centred around its new role in the international community, including its relationship with Turkey. The US has been less active internationally since Donald Trump took over the presidency, at least in comparison to previous administrations. One can only imagine the possibilities for arguments and debates in a conference consisting of Cyprus, Greece, Turkey, the US, UK, EU, Russia, France et al.