2. The End of Annan-Trauma…Finally! by Mertkan Hamit*
Eleven years ago on 24th April 2004, a week before the Cyprus accession to the EU, Annan Plan - the plan for the comprehensive solution of the Cyprus problem- was voted and rejected by a decisive no vote from the Greek Cypriots. It was a traumatic outcome for the 65% pro-solution Turkish Cypriot voters. Annan-trauma took 11 years to recover. 2 days after the 11th anniversary of Annan voting, pro-solution figure Mustafa Akinci’s victory created new hopes for resolution of Cyprus Problem.
At this phase of the conflict –that refers to the decades - there is no violence however the number of garrisoned troops in the North reaches almost one fifth of the civilian population. The heavy military presence of Turkish army strengthens the dominant understanding of the Cyprus problem that claims it is the problem of occupation and invasion. Perceiving Cyprus Problem solely as the problem of Turkish army brings us to a deadlock. Because such understanding 1) does not create room for reconciliation as it simply fails to communicate with the sensitivities of the Turkish Cypriots and 2) sustains the status quo and 3) underestimates the role of the Turkish Cypriots for the solution which is the main point that I am going elaborate.
Eroglu’s leadership relied on the perspective that takes non-resolution as a solution. Both before and during his rule, from April 2010 to April 2015, he exploited the Annan trauma and acted accordingly. This cost Turkish Cypriot side’s diminishing political significance for the resolution of the conflict, particularly when we compare with the previous five years 1. When the joint declaration was announced in February 2014, there were optimism. However, this did not last long. Despite there were international pressure, Eroglu’s political project was based on non-resolution and he was loyal to this. The general principle of the negotiations agreed on nothing until agreeing on everything gave him enough space to exploit the environment and sustain his non-solution is the solution position. Eroglu’s shilly-shally approach diminish the hopes, on the other hand intruder Barbaros made Anastasidis to leave the table turning the solution of the problem unachievable. This tactical move relying on delaying the process made federalists to understand the importance of removing Eroglu from his position.
Dialectics rules. Turkish Cypriot community acquired constructive but critical stance against various points and come up with innovative ideas, courage to speak most of the unspoken issues, show less-diplomatic and more direct way to show their willingness for reunification and most importantly learned acting bi-communally. Dissatisfaction among the TC grassroots magically brought critical interpretations over the role of the negotiation table, the way of attempts for comprehensive resolution, the methodology and the philosophy behind the settlement efforts. At this point, confidence building measures including return of Varosha and opening of the ports, models allowing solution in a gradual way with the aim of reaching comprehensive solution turned out to be the defining positions across pro-solution groups.
Recent Turkish Cypriot leadership election landmarked such transformation what I consider it as a paradigm shift. Majority of Turkish Cypriots who had accumulated their anger to the meaningless official lines of politics voted for Akinci. At the same time they were rejecting heavy jargon of the international political discourse and the empty populist rhetoric. The victory of Mustafa Akinci is important when we take his leftist background, his bold statements against Turkey into consideration. For the time being he become the voice of the grassroots who perceive Cyprus as their homeland, demanding for emancipation from arrogant statements of tie-wearing officialdom and looking forward for a federal solution in order to fulfil the delayed ambition of freedom irrespective with their national identity. There is a glittering hope for the future now it is up to Cypriots to grasp this opportunity.
1.When Mehmet Ali Talat was the leader he negotiated with former Greek Cypriot leader Christofias and come up with list of convergences.
*Mertkan Hamit completed his undergraduate studies (BA) in the Department of Economics of the Marmara University and he continued with postgraduate studies (MA) on South East European Studies at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. He is currently a PhD candidate on Human Rights at the School of Law and Social Sciences of the University of East London. He is an activist in Famagusta Initiative and the editor of ekopolitix.net. Follow him on Twitter.