Idea of common state in Cyprus

Azat Artsakh – Repubic of Nagorno Karabakh
March 24, 2004


On March 7-14 the group of 19 Armenian and Azerbaijani journalists
visited Cyprus. The visit was organized by the press clubs of Yerevan
and Baku within the framework of the program `The possibilities of
settlement of the Karabakh conflict: evaluations of experts and
coverage in the mass media’. The implementation of the project was
assisted by the network program of the mass media of the Open Society
Institute. The organization of the visit was favoured by the office of
press and information of the Ministry of Home Affairs of Cyprus, the
press service of the embassy of the Republic of Cyprus in Russia, the
chairman of the union of journalists of Cyprus Andreas Kannauros, the
press and information service of the government of North Cyprus. The
aim of the visit of the representatives of the mass media of Armenia,
Azerbaijan and Nagorni Karabakh was to observe the problem of Cyprus
from inside and also an attempt to compare with the actualities of our
region. According to the editor of the `Weekly Bulletin’ of the
Yerevan Press Club Elina Poghosbekian, `The changing atmosphere of
both the north and the south of Cyprus inspire optimism. It is more
difficult to foresee whether we the Armenian and Azerbaijani
journalists who appeared on the hospitable island of Aphrodite will be
able `to learn to walk again’. Thus, it is too early to draw parallels
with the South Caucasian actualities. The other aim of our visit was
the discussion of ways of further cooperation between the mass media
and the unions of journalists of these countries.’ The history of
negotiations for the unification of North and South Cyprus started in
1947 is apparently approaching its end. If on March 22 the direct
dialogue between the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus and
the Turkish community of the island does not have any results, then
within the framework of the project of the Secretary General of the UN
Kofi Annan the negotiations will involve the guarantor countries
Greece and Turkey. In case of failure in that stage too Kofi Annan
will extend his final suggestions. And if this program is not accepted
by the parties either, the question will be solved by a referendum in
the north and the south of the island, which will probably be held on
April 21. The thing is that after the military coup in Athens on April
21, 1967 and the seize of the power by the `black colonels’ on July
15, 1974 an attempt was made to unite Cyprus and Greece, which was
followed by the deployment of Turkish forces in the island. On April
23, 2003 free moving was allowed by the so-called `green’
(demarcation) zone. According to the spokesman of the government of
the Republic of Cyprus Chrisostomides, after opening the border every
day about 10 thousand Turkish and Cypriot people cross it, and during
all this period no skirmish has been reported. Free passage has
enabled the Turks of Cyprus to receive the passport of the Republic of
Cyprus. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs of the Republic of
Cyprus, since April of 2003 13.5 thousand people for the North have
received passports. Since May 1, 2004 the Republic of Cyprus will
become a member of the European Union and consequently the borders of
free passage will be enlarged considerably. However the home minister
of the Republic of Cyprus pays no less importance to the fact of local
significance: since April of the same year 34 thousand Turkish
Cypriots have received internal passports. According to him, only in
their archive there are data concerning issuing such passports to 115
thousand Turkish Cypriots. `Our meeting with the prime minister of the
internationally non-recognized state of the Turkish republic Mehmet
Ali Talat took place on the eve of his visit to Ankara where he was to
have consultations with the government of Turkey. Turkey is the only
country which has officially recognized the Turkish Republic of
Cyprus,’ writes Elina Poghosbekian. The prime minister confesses that
the situation that North Cyprus is not recognized yet cannot last any
longer. Nothing good may come out of it if South Cyprus is admitted to
the European Union whereas the north is not, he added. The president
of the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus Rauf Denktas has radical
position and demands founding a confederation of two independent
states. The variant of Rauf Dengtas is absolutely unacceptable for the
Greek Cypriots, however, as prime minister Talat mentioned, there are
questions seriously bargained for. There is the question of the fate
of the settlers from Turkey, who outnumber the native Cypriots, to be
solved. Their exact number is not known; according to the Greek party,
their number is 125-130 thousand, whereas the Turkish party says they
form 35 % of the 200 thousand population of North. Of the people
settled in the island who may stay and who will have to leave after
receiving a compensation? What will be the size of the compensation?
What will be with the further presence of the foreign forces (Turkish,
British and Greek) in the both parts of the island? The home minister
of the Republic of Cyprus Christu assures that the unification will be
through economic relations, which are becoming more effective after
opening up the `green’ zone. `In my opinion, the unification will
require 6 million pounds. One thing is clear: without donors we cannot
supply the living of the population,’ said Christu. The annual income
of the Cypriot Greeks (16 thousand dollars per capita) surpasses the
annual income per capita of not only the Cypriot Turks but also of the
`old’ members of the European Union Greece and Portugal. Will the
Greek community say `yes’ during the referendum? The home minister of
the Republic of Cyprus is convinced that the economic relationships of
the communities with the institutional circles established by the
European Union will enable a rapid settlement of the problem. `Having
a bitter but instructive experience of co-existence we will again
learn to walk.’ The `star time’ of Cyprus is expected on May 1. Will
it on this red date of the calendar enter the European family united
or the 30 years of division will last? Little time is left. We will
only add that in Cyprus Karabakh was represented by the members of the
Stepanakert press club Gegham Baghdassarian and Narineh Aghabalian.