2017 was not a positive year regarding a permanent solution for Cyprus. Despite the good-willed efforts of Turkey and Turkish Cyprus, the resolution talks were sabotaged, as Greek Cyprus did not side with a resolution on July 7, 2017, in Crans-Montana where the parties met. This development disappointed Turkish Cypriots once again. Unfortunately, Greek Cyprus has been continuing a great injustice by claiming that it represents all of Cyprus by exploiting its name, the Republic of Cyprus, ever since it undeservedly became an EU member. Greek Cyprus is reluctant to display a constructive approach since one side entered the EU without introducing a solution to the Cyprus issue, whereas Turkish Cypriots who voted for a solution in the Annan referendum were punished. By taking advantage of its EU membership, Greek Cyprus has been sabotaging all efforts for a resolution.
Turkish Cypriots continue to be subjected to unjust embargoes while the Greek Cyprus continues to disregard the rights of Turkish Cypriots by relying on the double standards of the EU. For instance, Greek Cypriot parliament members occupy all six seats allocated to the Republic of Cyprus in European Parliament, which is a great injustice since Turkish Cypriots deserve two of these six seats. In the European Parliament elections held in Greek Cyprus so far, a quota of two seats has never been allocated to Turkish Cypriots. Plus, Turkish Cypriot voting has been impeded.
It is a shame for the EU to remain as a mere spectator to all these unjust practices.
In 2018, two elections will be held on Cyprus, one on the northern and one on the southern side of the island. The first will be in Turkish Cyprus in the north. The early general election will be held on Jan. 7, and 50 deputies will be elected to Turkish Cypriot parliament. According to surveys conducted so far and conversations I have had with Turkish Cypriot friends, the National Unity Party (UBP), which is the greater party in the current coalition government and chaired by Prime Minister Hüseyin Özgürgün, is the most favored, while the Republican Turkish Party (CTP) is the second favorite. However, neither party has a chance to form a government on its own. Since the CTP is reluctant to form a coalition with the UBP, a grand coalition will not be an option. So, different coalition options might arise as newly founded parties running in elections for the first time might enter parliament. Thus, the People's Party (HP), Communal Democracy Party (TDP), Democratic Party (DP), Revival Party (YDP), Communal Liberation Party-New Forces (TKP-YG) and Nationalist Democracy Party (MDP) have been exerting great efforts to enter parliament and join a possible coalition.
The most significant detail of the election that interests the EU is the fact that all the parties running in the election are ready to try and find a solution for Cyprus, unlike the parties in the Greek Cypriot government. So far, all parties in the Turkish Cypriot government have cooperated with Turkey, which has been trying hard to find a solution for Cyprus. No matter which party is elected and which government is founded on Jan. 8, Turkish Cypriots will always continue to work for a resolution.
This is the exact opposite of the situation in the Greek Cypriot government for which the first round of the presidential elections will be held on Jan. 28. Although the candidates claim to be for a solution, their claims unfortunately do not go beyond rhetoric and remain unfulfilled. As for this election, Democratic Rally (DISY) candidate President Nicos Anastasiades, who has been representing the Greek Cyprus in negotiations for five years, Communist Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL) candidate Stavros Malas, who asserts in his campaign that he sides with the solution, and Democratic Party (DIKO) candidate Nikolas Papadopoulos are among the favored ones. The election will most probably proceed to a second round, and Anastasiades will probably come out as the winner.
It raises curiosity as to what Anastasiades will do in 2018. So far, he has been unable to convince circles standing against a solution by provoking anti-Turkish sentiments, especially in the Greek Orthodox Church.
Starting in February, the new governments in both Turkish and Greek Cyprus will embark on efforts for a solution. The EU has a major role in this and has to end the double standards it has implemented. Great disappointment has been felt on the issue, as the EU has remained a mere spectator to unjust practices Turkish Cypriots have been subjected to solution efforts sabotaged by Greek Cyprus. This must end in 2018.
European Parliament also has a great responsibility. As of the second half of 2018, it will begin preparations for upcoming elections to be held in May 2019. In this period, it must stop ignoring the fact that two of the six seats allocated to Cyprus in European Parliament belong to Turkish Cypriots. Required measures must prevent Greek Cyprus's anti-democratic attempts to impede the election of two Turkish Cypriot members to European Parliament.
Hopefully, 2018 will be the year in which a fair solution for Cyprus can finally be introduced. Turkey and Turkish Cypriots will undoubtedly do their part in 2018, as they have done so far. There is no question of that.