İlknur Şebnem Öztemel-TDO- A historic effort to end the division of Cyprus begins today. After 18 months of intensive negotiations, Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akıncı will meet last time to discuss territorial trade-offs, regarding security. It will be the first time since 1974 that Turkey and the Greek Cypriots will hold direct talks at the negotiating table.

Cyprus issue is a stronghold problem associated with the peace in both MENA and Europe. There are several attempts to solve political dispute in the island.

After the appointment of archbishop Makarios to the island, Enosis, ideal of a bigger Greece was strengthened. Throughout 50’s and 60’s, Greekmilitants attacked Turkish minority in the island. In 1974, Turkish government engaged in a military operation and Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (NRTC) was established. Unfortunately, politics surpassed justice ones more and both European states and America supported Greece in any case.

In 1986, UN Secretary General, Perez de Cuellar, declared a peace plan with two federations in the island but it was rejected by Greek side. In 1989, he drafted a new plan but this time Turkish side rejected the plan as no one asked about their opinion. By the way, president of the Greek side, Vasilliou, requested for self-determination vote in the island. It was rejected by the Turkish side.

In 1991, Turkish Prime Minister suggested a four –side meeting between Greek Cypriot, NRTC, Britain and Turkey. Nevertheless, Greek side insisted on a nine-side meeting, with the contribution of permanent five (P5).

In 1992, Secretary General of UN, Boutros Boutros Ghali, presented a new peace plan that gives 28, 2% of the island to Turkish side, excluding Güzelyalı, was rejected by Turkish side.

After 1993, Greek Cypriots focused on gaining European support and to be a member of EU.

In 2000, Kofi Annan, submitted a new peace plan, based on a federation model. In 2004, Turkish side accepted the plan in a referendum. On the other hand, Greek side rejected the plan with 75, 38% of the votes. A few months later on 1 May 2004, Greek side became a member of EU as ‘’Cyprus’’.

It has been guaranteed that, as Turkish side accepts the plan, NRTC would not be de facto anymore and all sanctions to Turkish side would be lifted. West did not keep its promise again. Turkish side voted in favour of the plan with 64, 91%.

Meanwhile, EU declared that the political dispute in the island must be solved as a part of conditions imposed to Turkey, for membership.

After a year of Negotiations, They have met today;

Regarding the discovery of Aphrodite Gas Field and rising tensions between Russia and energy-dependent EU, new period of peace talks were started. So far, two sides had progress on the issues of governance, political power-sharing, the economy and the EU. The main problem is considered as the new borders and military presence of Turkey and Greece in the island. Also, Turkey tries to maintain its right to intervene to the island as a guarantor state and mainland of Turkish minority in the island.

British Prime Minister, Theresa May, called her counter-part Erdoğan to say that she was ready to meet with him for peace talks.

Unlike his successors, Erdoğan is the most flexible leader about the issue. In his prior speeches, he underlined the investment of Turkey to the island and reminded ethno-centric links of island to Anatolia. Though, it is claimed that economy and security of Turkey would be his focal point.

Let’s hope for the best...

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