Notes for Talat meeting

Cyprus briefing points

 

President Talat:

Born in 1952, engineering graduate (Ankara).

Developed his political career via Turkish Cypriot trade unions and student politics in opposition to Rauf Denktash.

Leading pro-settlement voice in the April 2004 referendum.

Became Prime Minister after his party won the most seats in the January 2005 election, in coalition with the more hard-line party led by Serdar Denktash.

Won the April 2006 presidential election in the first round (55.6% of votes cast).

Broke coalition with Serdar Denktash in September 2006 and formed new coalition with defectors from Denktash’s party.

Prefers to be referred to as “President of the Turkish republic of Northern Cyprus“. Customary international usage is to call him the “leader of the Turkish Cypriot community”.

 

The Finnish proposals:

 

As we understand it, these were developed late last month and are presumably the subject of Talat’s meetings today and tomorrow:

 

1)      Turkey opens (?some?) ports to Cypriot vessels (thus implementing the Turkey-EU customs union with Cyprus which is the formal blockage on progress)

2)      Greek Cypriots agree direct trade regulations for Turkish Cypriots to trade with the EU without having to go through the Green Line.

3)      Famagusta port (Magosa in Turkish) to be jointly administered by EU, UN and Turkish Cypriot chamber of commerce, for two years

4)      The ghost town of Varosha (Maraş in Turkish) to be refurbished by the Turkish side and (?some?) Greek Cypriots allowed to return (not clear if this is under UN control or continued Turkish Cypriot control – we recommended the latter in our report).

5)      Both sides continue with the UN process.

 

Turkish objections:

 

1)      No mention of allowing international flights to Ercan airport

2)      Any territorial readjustment should be part of the comprehensive settlement (not clear that Finns are proposing any interim change in administration)

3)      Not clear what happens to Varosha/Famagusta after two years

4)      Negotiations are being held with Ankara, not with Turkish Cypriots (though presumably Talat’s visit to Brussels will make )

5)      This is an attempt by EU to wiggle out of its commitments to Turkish Cypriots while holding Turkey to the customs union condition

6)      “If we give them this concession they will only make more demands.”

 

See also statements by Talat from last week (separate attachment).

Famagusta

 

(this is a Turkish Cypriot map – spelling not great but boundaries are clear)

 

There are two geographical areas in question:

 

i) The port facilities (Magosa in Turkish), which are already heavily used for Turkish Cypriot trade with those countries who aren’t under the EU ban. These could be run, by EU regulation, and UN permission, by the European Commission with the assistance of local parties. The Greek Cypriots obviously want to be one of the local parties. As we understand the Finnish proposals, they would not be included; it would be the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce. Also as we understand the Finnish proposals, this is to be a temporary, two-year arrangement, renewable if there is progress on finding a comprehensive settlement in the meantime.

 

ii) The abandoned holiday resort of Varosha, immediately south of the port area (between it and the Green Line). Under the Annan Plan it would have been among the first parts of territory handed over to Greek Cypriot control by the Turkish Cypriots. Apparently Talat (when Prime Minister) offered to hand it directly to the Greek Cypriots in return for the EU passing the direct trade regulation, an offer which the Greek Cypriots refused.

 

There is a great deal of haziness about the current Finnish proposals on Varosha. It is clear that they anticipate refurbishment of the abandoned and derelict buildings; not clear a) who pays (Turkish Cypriots, Turkey, EU, or other bilateral donors), or b) who is in control of the area while this refurbishment takes place. On that point, we recommended that the Turkish Cypriots should stay in charge and supervise the return of Greek Cypriot civilians. The Greek Cypriots want to put their own armed forces in immediately. The Finns may have proposed (but this is not clear) that the UN buffer zone be extended to include Varosha, so that it is under international control.

 

 

The UN process:

 

In July the two leaders, Papadopoulos and Talat, met three times under the auspices of the UN (in the person of Under-Secretary-General Ibraim Gambari). They agreed on the following:

 

Set of principles

 

1. Commitment to the unification of Cyprus based on a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation and political equality, as set out in the relevant Security Council resolutions.

 

2. Recognition of the fact that the status quo is unacceptable and that its prolongation would have negative consequences for the Turkish and Greek Cypriots.

 

3. Commitment to the proposition that a comprehensive settlement is both desirable and possible, and should not be further delayed.

 

4. Agreement to begin a process immediately, involving bi-communal discussion of issues that affect the day to day life of the people and concurrently those that concern substantive issues, both of which will contribute to a comprehensive settlement.

 

5. Commitment to ensure that the “right atmosphere” prevails for this process to be successful. In that connection, confidence building measures are essential, both in terms of improving the atmosphere and improving the life of all Turkish and Greek Cypriots. Also in that connection, an end must be put to the so-called “blame game”.

 

Decision by the two leaders

 

The Technical Committees on issues that affect the day to day life of people

will commence by the end of July provided that, at the same time, the two

Leaders will also have exchanged a list of issues of substance and its

contents to be studied by expert bi-communal working groups and finalized by

the Leaders.

 

The two Leaders will meet further, from time to time as appropriate, to give

directions to the expert bi-communal working groups as well as to review the

work of the Technical Committees.

 

The lists of “issue of substance” were indeed prepared and exchanged at the end of July, but no further progress has taken place. UN sources and Turkish interlocutors agree that this is because of a lack of engagement by the Greek Cypriots.


Other points to raise

 

1) The question of a post-settlement international security presence, raised by Stanley Crossick, with the idea of a new international force (be it NATO, EU or UN) taking over security for the whole island and all other armed groups being demilitarized. Is this worth us pursuing? (Note: despite the widest recruitment trawl I have initiated in my time here I still haven’t identified a suitable consultant for this topic.)

 

2) The property issue now seems likely to be solved through the courts – the European Court for Human Rights has effectively recognized the Turkish Cypriots’ property compensation system. Are there perhaps other legal challenges that can be made to the Greek Cypriots’ constitutional legitimacy? Substantial chunks of the 1960 constitution have been suspended without due process.

 

3) The Turkish Cypriots’ advocacy of their own cause in Brussels is under-resourced; Yalçin Vehit, their head of representation, has only three staff, and their activities seem to be concentrated on the Turkish community in Belgium and friendly parliamentarians, rather than attempting to penetrate the EU structures (as we have done in our work). To an extent this is a legacy of the Denktash era (both father and son) – Serdar stated that he was much more interested in developing their links with the Arab world than with the EU. However he is out of government as of two weeks ago, and they should be encouraged to put more resources into their presence in Brussels (and elsewhere in the EU).

 

NW, 9 October 2006

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