Former home secretary: Only partitioned island will end dispute between Turkish, Greek Cypriots

DAILY SABAH WITH AGENCIES
ISTANBUL
Published 03.10.2017 20:06

Former British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Jack Straw has said that the "nonsense" of unification negotiations for founding one state of Cyprus that consists of two societies should be stopped and the solution to the problem lies in the division of the island.

Writing an article for the Independent, named "Only a partitioned island will bring the dispute between Turkish and Greek Cypriots to an end," Straw said that one of the worst strategic decisions ever by the European Union was to agree that Cyprus should join the EU on May 1, 2004, whether agreement had been reached with the Turkish Cypriots or not. "To add insult to injury to the north, it is the whole island which formally has acceded to membership, including the unrecognized and unrepresented Turkish side of the island," he said.

When Cyprus became an EU member state, Straw was the secretary of state for foreign and Commonwealth affairs, from 2001 to 2006. Before the article he mentioned a few times that partition should be on the agenda in case of failure in negotiations to unite Cyprus.

According to Straw, the fundamental problem with Cyprus was, and remains, that the Greek Cypriots had no incentive to sign up to the deal.

"For any negotiation of this kind to succeed, both sides have to be able to gain something. But, from the Greek Cypriot point of view, conceding political equality with the Turkish Cypriots means giving power away. If the quid pro quo had been EU membership, a deal in my view would have been agreed. But absent that, the reality is that however well-intentioned, no Greek-Cypriot leader will ever be able to get their electorate behind a deal. The status quo for the south is simply too comfortable," Straw said, adding that it would be far more likely to improve relations between the two communities than continuing the useless merry-go-round of further negotiations for a settlement that can never be.

The latest negotiations in Crans-Montana, which began on June 28, and were monitored by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' Special Adviser on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide, failed after 10 days of intense discussions.The eastern Mediterranean island was divided into Turkish Cyprus in the north and Greek Cyprus in the south after a 1974 military coup was followed by the intervention of Turkey as a guarantor power. A U.N.-brokered peace deal was approved by Turkish Cypriots in 2004, but was rejected by Greek Cypriot voters in a referendum.

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