What is my radical approach to the Cyprus problem? To answer this question, we must first look back at over 400 years of history relating to Turkey, Greece, and Cyprus. It explains the highly emotional background behind the Cyprus problem.
What follows is probably the longest and most angrily written sentence ever stated in a political manifesto:
‘If by the Cyprus problem you mean do I want to negotiate with the leaders of a people that invaded and conquered my island in 1570, murdered our ancestors, raped and impregnated our women, killed our priests; a people that leased my island to the British in 1878 without our permission as if it was a potato field, a people that forced my 17-year-old grandmother to flee Constantinople during the 1920s genocide against ethnic Greeks, caused misery in Greece and Cyprus for hundreds of years, invaded my beautiful island again in 1974, broke the Geneva Convention and other international laws by transferring its own population to Cyprus, desecrated our churches and the graves of my ancestors, stole our land, stole our olive trees and fruit trees, ate our lambs and chickens, destroyed our economy, ignored UN resolutions, disregarded judgements from the European Court of Human Rights, and then had the audacity to declare independence of its so-called ‘TRNC’ puppet state in northern Cyprus, would I have wanted to negotiate with the government and pseudo government of such a people? No.’
‘If, on the other hand, by Cyprus problem you mean will I be willing to negotiate for a settlement with the descendants of the Ottomans and those that masterminded the 1974 invasion, human beings that share similar DNA and blood as me; a people who are my neighbours, so that after 50 years of failed negotiations all Cypriots can be compensated especially our 1974 refugees, including the return of Varosha, with the possible by-product being to help resolve the Greece/Turkey Aegean dispute, so that Cypriots, Greeks, and Turks can all live in peace together as equals, the answer is yes, I will, if you elect me.’
Any non-Cypriots who are reading this English version of my presidential manifesto and would like to learn the history of the Cyprus problem in 15 minutes, please watch ‘The Unsinkable Aircraft Carrier: the Cyprus Dispute Explained.’ It really saddened me watching this short film.
Several UN Security Council resolutions have been in force since the 1974 Turkish invasion. The one regularly cited is a call for a negotiated bizonal bicommunal federated solution. If elected president, I would of course continue to follow these UN resolutions. It will be my turn to hold the negotiating baton with ‘TRNC’ assuming they want to talk.
Firstly, for the record, I have no problem with Turkish Cypriots, Turks, or anyone of any colour, faith, or nationality being my neighbour, employee, or work colleague. And I have no issue at all with Turkish Cypriots from the south, who recognise Cyprus’ sovereignty, being elected by one ‘man’, one vote, such as Mr Niyazi Kızılyürek MEP. Secondly, I will summarise feedback from Greek Cypriots and Greeks over the many years I have researched a solution to the Cyprus problem. Some opinions below are recent. I agree with several.
- ‘I do not believe a bizonal bicommunal Cyprus is now possible. It may have been feasible 20 years ago with a variation of the Annan Plan combined with various other proposals, but not now almost 50 years after the Turkish invasion’.
- ‘A bizonal bicommunal will never pass a referendum’.
- ‘What will happen if, after a reunification, the public sector in the north demands equal pay, because ‘separate but equal’ amounts to discrimination or apartheid? What if it is taken to the European Court of Human Rights and the judges agree? Who will pay for this?’
- ‘I do not believe substantial power sharing with less than 20% of the population having control over the other 80% is fair. If the demographic population split was 60-40, maybe. But not 80-20. Perhaps Turkey can lead by example and give additional voting and veto power to its 18% Kurdish population.’
- ‘I do not believe rotating presidents between the two communities is workable, as all this will do is make everyone dizzy. Would Turkey consider a rotating Kurdish president every few elections?’
- ‘I do not want the risk that a bad settlement will trigger violence in future. It happened in 1919 after the First World War. The Treaty of Versailles triggered hyperinflation in Germany and indirectly spawned fascism; Hitler then came to power as a populist ‘saviour’ which led to the Second World War. Similarly, the basis for Cyprus’ independence in 1960 clearly had constitutional and practical flaws otherwise the Turkish Cypriots wouldn’t have resigned from government, nor would the intercommunal violence of the 1960s occurred.’
- ‘I do not believe substantial power sharing and governance with ‘TRNC’ will work. We Greek Cypriots can’t agree among ourselves when it comes to politics, let alone adding another layer to an onion that will make us ‘cry’ even more.’
- ‘I want the right of return to my childhood home, or fair compensation if I cannot or do not choose to live there.’
- ‘I do not want anything that could result in future bloodshed. A bizonal bicommunal settlement with no ‘border’ is a disaster waiting to happen and fraught with danger. One incident involving a TC or GC reclaiming their property in north or south Nicosia as part of a settlement could trigger insults, stone throwing, intercommunal violence, death, and even war.’
- ‘If the UN peacekeeping force leaves, and there is no ‘border’ or buffer zone, who will protect us from Turkish aggression? Or from a false flag operation as an excuse to invade again?’
Few details have ever been released since 2004. The public does not know the detailed status of ‘TRNC’ negotiations. I am not blaming Cyprus’ governments for failure, merely questioning what has been discussed during the last 18 years for a bizonal bicommunal solution to the Cyprus problem. Even parrots can be trained to repeat, ‘We have talked’, ‘We will talk’, or ‘We will talk about talking with ‘TRNC’’.
What have they talked about when negotiating a settlement? A variation of the Anan plan? (Read it here: http://www.hri.org/docs/annan/Annan_Plan_April2004.pdf). Or something new? Cyprus’ taxpayers pay their salaries, their huge future pensions, and their flights and hotel expenses flying to God knows where. What exactly has been discussed during 18 years of meetings? Or did they collect air miles for free holidays and play Tavli?
If elected, I would be the 8th president since the 1974 Turkish invasion. It will be my turn to hold the negotiating baton. But I will attempt something radical in parallel to following the UN Security Council’s resolutions for a bizonal bicommunal federated solution to the Cyprus problem. If these talks fail, I suspect the next four presidents after me will be holding the same baton in 25 years’ time. However, if my negotiations succeed, this exhausting marathon that started in 1974 will end.
This is controversial. Please read with an open mind until the end
It is worth being reminded of the famous children’s story, ‘The emperor’s new clothes’ by Hans Christian Anderson. I am the child that dared to point and say,“The emperor is not wearing anything at all.”
My proposed framework to a solution is to initially have no framework for talks. I believe that, as a one-time attempt to resolve the matter once and for all, everything should be on the table for discussion with ‘TRNC’ for 2 years.
By ‘everything’ I mean anything should be up for discussion, including:
- Bicommunal, bizonal (as stated in security council resolutions. A variation of the Swiss one?)
- Federated (the system of states used in the USA)
- Provincial (similar to USA states but with different levels of devolved powers e.g. Canada)
- Confederal, devolved, or unitary (England and Wales, England and Scotland)
- Apartheid by consensus (South Africa until 1994 was without consensus)
- Separate but equal based on ethnicity or language (works ok in Belgium. Didn’t work in USA)
All the political systems mentioned above have one thing in common: a central government officially acting as one nation, one voice, and one sovereign legal entity. For example, California despite substantial autonomy is not a member of the UN; the USA is. Dubai or Quebec are not. Wales does not dictate defence policy; the UK does. This leaves two additional options during these 2 years of my proposed ‘TRNC’ everything and anything talks:
- Discuss something else.
- Discuss a two-state solution subject to massive compensation to GCs and future referenda.
- If points 2-8 fail, remove them for future discussion and continue to only discuss point 1.
If I am elected president, it would be a mandate by our citizens, to give me permission to discuss every possible solution to the Cyprus problem with ‘TRNC’. ‘Discuss’ does not mean to agree to a two-state solution or anything else. That will be based on a future referendum after details have been made public. However, to even discuss the possibility of partition creates four general reactions from Greek Cypriots even if rarely publicly stated so bluntly:
- ‘I will never, ever agree to a two-state solution for the principle. Even if ‘TRNC’ transferred €500 billion, and I was compensated €100 million tax free in cash for my family’s property losses after the 1974 invasion, I would always vote NO’. Or,
- As above, ‘…and Andronicos should be thrown in jail for even publicly talking about it’. Or,
- ‘My direct family lost no property after the 1974 invasion; however, my extended family did, via several marriages. Although I have sympathy for fellow Greek Cypriots that lost property, in my opinion successive governments have been too generous with them. Very cheap Turkish property and land rentals, grants, affirmative discrimination for public sector jobs, and all sorts of other allowances. I will vote NO in memory of my grandfather who died in the invasion. Anyway, there’s nothing in it for my direct family, and why should ‘TRNC’ as the aggressor potentially benefit if my immediate family does not financially benefit?’ Or,
- ‘I will very likely vote NO on the principle but am willing to hear all viewpoints.’
I believe by the end of the 2 years, unless ‘TRNC’ offers something spectacular, we will likely end up exactly as we are now. However, it will prove to the international community that GCs attempted to negotiate in good faith despite no precedent existing, nor any legal or moral obligation to do so.
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
What follows is not an attempt to ‘sell’ a two-state solution. Instead, my proposed framework is to initially have no framework for ‘TRNC’ talks with everything on the table. Everything means anything. Let’s see what ‘TRNC’ offers. I will be fully prepared to withdraw the two-state solution option if a future ‘TRNC’ offer has no chance of a positive referendum result, or ‘TRNC’ continues to state, ‘But we’re already an independent nation. The pseudo ‘Republic of Cyprus’ does not exist, nor do we recognise its so-called ‘president’ Andronicos’.
It is very likely ‘TRNC’ and Turkey will state the above until at least the summer of 2023, so that President Erdogan can show a hard-line stance to the Cyprus problem (and its Aegean dispute with Greece) due to the Turkish presidential election in June 2023.
My blueprint is aimed at those that personally relate to the reactions in points (3) and (4) above. I will not attempt to change the minds of those in point (1) and (2) above. Below is my initial blueprint V1.0 to a possible two-state solution, with my seven current red lines stated upfront:
- Red line. Substantial compensation in the tens of billions of euros to Greek Cypriots (GCs). Several independent studies abroad can give a benchmark of the estimated 31/12/2021 value of GC property in the occupied territories compared to TC property in the south.
It is not the GCs’ problem where ‘TRNC’ gets the money from. Turkey had no legal right to give away land to settlers. Perhaps Turkey, the EU, and the international community can assist. A post-dated cheque or instalments will not be accepted unless guaranteed by the EU or similar.
- Red line. Varosha and the area around it including the military barracks to be transferred to GCs.
- Red line. Additional land will be handed over to GCs and the current ‘border’ redrawn.
- Red line. Most of the land in the UN buffer zone will belong to GCs.
- Red line: All Turkish Cypriot (TC) property in the south will belong to GCs with no claims in future.
- Red line: All Turkish troops to leave the island in a phased withdrawal. As an interim measure, they can use Incirlik Air Base 20 minutes away in southern Turkey instead, if they so wish, but that is their decision, not ours. The UN and EU can initially guarantee security for Turkish Cypriots.
- Red line: The island must eventually become demilitarised. Conscription will be reduced and possibly phased out. Small defence forces with pre-agreed numbers will be permissible.
- The search for the 1974 missing must continue. To assist in this noble cause, a truth and reconciliation commission similar to 1990s South Africa could be set up to deal with crimes and atrocities. Those GCs and TCs offering to participate will generally be exempt from prosecution. Nevertheless, most persons that took part in atrocities are probably dead or very old.
- Half the British bases were offered in 2004. I will seek to have all military bases removed as part of a settlement so that the island of Cyprus truly becomes demilitarised. I have no issue if parts of Akrotiri are leased as a permanent UN/EU base for global peacekeeping and humanitarian relief.
- The TC population prior to the 1974 invasion was 18.6% of the total. To offset some of the cash compensation above payable to GCs, TCs can have 18.6% of the island’s hydrocarbons net wealth deducted from the cash ‘TRNC’ will owe. This may help TCs leverage a GC compensation loan.
- Dependent on the volume of gas found in Cyprus’ waters, a pipeline could be built to transfer surplus natural gas from Cyprus and Israel, via Cyprus’ northern coast to southern Turkey. This will help guarantee the EU’s energy needs. Indirect control of this pipeline under international treaties and commercial partners will belong to the EU, so Turkey will not be able to unilaterally switch it off. Reciprocally, the south could benefit from the north’s water supply via the undersea pipeline built in 2015 from Turkey to ‘TRNC’, or via a new water pipeline that could be built.
- I do not want a repeat of the bloodshed caused by forced repatriation at around the time Pakistan and India were partitioned in 1947. To make history we must learn from history. No TC will be served with compulsory purchase orders, other than homes in or around the Varosha area. It will be ‘TRNC’s’ responsibility to do this prior to a settlement. Any TC family that finds itself living in the new south, based on negotiated redrawn ‘borders’, will benefit financially as their property will likely be worth more. No TC will ever be intimidated out of their homes in the ‘new’ south. The mixed village of Pyla can act as a role model, and its leaders can provide practical advice.
- TC and GC enclaved areas, if applicable after settlement, will be protected. So will religious buildings and graveyards. GCs have generally respected this since 1974. ‘TRNC’ generally has not.
- ‘TRNC’ and Turkey must stop dumping refugees and migrants, or weaponizing the issue.
- Most GC property in the north will belong to TCs with no claims in future, subject to all the compensation paid to GCs listed herein which will include tens of billions of euros.
- This is a compensation matter. Those who lost property as adults because of the invasion are now pensioners, dead, or inherited by their heirs. Those still alive may yearn to return (assuming their property is still there and in good condition) but are unlikely to wish to be surrounded by TCs away from their families 50 years later or risk having limited access to Cyprus’ healthcare system (GESY). Hence, there is no automatic right of return in version 1 of this blueprint.
- A team of selected respected GCs and TCs and neutrals will jointly deal with matters affecting the physical island such as environmental, fishing, wildfires, and water, and intercommunal issues. An island ‘president’ for these matters can be elected.
- An interim trading deal can be negotiated between GCs and TCs, subject to EU and WTO guidelines. In future, the Cyprus Republic could feasibly become a doorway to the EU for Günsel electric cars and create wealth for both communities, and vice versa for GC goods and services to ‘TRNC’ and Turkey.
- GCs will always vote with the EU majority if ‘TRNC’ or Turkey wish to join the EU. Cyprus will never veto membership if it can affect the vote result. (It is almost a foregone conclusion that Greece will always veto Turkey or ‘TRNC’ joining the EU if the Aegean dispute is not resolved. Therefore, my blueprint can potentially act as a catalyst to solve that problem too.)
- How GCs will be compensated is a GC matter (refer below). How compensation will be dealt with in the TC community is a TC matter.
Key point: the above is my version 1 blueprint. It is not a recommendation for partition, merely that from July 2023 for 2 years after the 2023 Cyprus and Turkish presidential elections, anything possible to a settlement should be on the negotiation table. And in parallel to UN Security Council resolutions for a bicommunal bizonal solution, my version 1 blueprint above can always be changed or fully withdrawn.
If a solution to the Cyprus problem can be negotiated, as part of a settlement, the fenced-off city abandoned since 1974 known as Varosha and the areas around it including the Turkish military barracks will belong to GCs. This is central to my settlement and GC compensation blueprint.
It can be levelled to the ground and transformed into an eco-friendly, energy-efficient garden city within a few years. A Mediterranean jewel with offices, a technology park, hotels, and residential properties. A connected artificial island could form part of this beautiful new metropolis.
Some office space could be rented to technology start-ups and multinationals, subsidised for an initial amount of time. This could be open to any EU and some non-EU companies that guarantee to create jobs. Israeli technology and established companies could use Cyprus as their EU base.
Some government ministries could move there with existing Nicosia office space sold. The EU is welcome to rent offices and create a regional hub for the Middle East and Africa. Why are most EU agencies headquartered in Brussels? Why are so many international agencies based in Switzerland and New York, when Cyprus has such an amazing and less expensive highly skilled workforce?
International and local construction companies will be awarded contracts to build the new city using local labour to ensure it is constructed on time and within budget. It will create thousands of local jobs. Funding will come from a percentage of the settlement given to GCs, EU grants, and commercial equity holders. Consideration will be given to tap the capital markets and create a publicly listed company which will trade on a major European stock exchange and the Cyprus stock exchange.
32.5 Substantial compensation to GC refugees, their heirs, and all other GCs
In the proposed first version of the compensation blueprint below, the term ‘GC refugee’ includes his or her heirs if the refugee is no longer living. All political parties will be expected to provide constructive opinions, followed by public consultation, which will lead to several independent opinion polls.
- All compensation and assets received from or via ‘TRNC’ will be pooled into a new government entity called the ‘Compensation Fund’, which will act as trustee.
- 60% will be shared with GC refugees while 40% is held on behalf of every other GC. If the apportioning was 100% for GC refugees, it would not pass a GC referendum. Those GCs that lost nothing would vote against. They would think, what’s the point? The opposite holds true. If the GCs that lost property in 1974 did not receive most of the compensation, they too would vote against.
- Of the 60% to be shared with GC refugees, Varosha refugees will receive a higher compensation ratio. This is only fair as the new city will mainly be built on their land. This affects 6,000 title deed holders as of 1974.
- To avoid new persons acquiring Cyprus citizenship, with the main intent to financially benefit from a settlement, a to-be-determined qualification cut-off date prior to 2022 will apply.
- To avoid artificially increasing the value of property between today and settlement, every GC refugee’s 1974 land and property losses will be independently assessed at the 31/12/2021 value.
- Every GC refugee currently using a TC property or land will have its market value independently assessed as at 31/12/2021 for the same reason.
- Every GC refugee will be offered ownership of TC property or land they currently lawfully rent or use. If it exceeds the value of their 1974 loss, they will be given an interest-free loan for many years. If the opposite applies, they will be owed money from the Compensation Fund.
- A lottery system could be used to apportion unused TC properties and land in the south, including the UN buffer zone, and the British bases territory. To avoid the risk of corruption, this will be managed anonymously and transparently in liaison with the Big 4 audit firms (PwC, Deloitte, EY, and KPMG). Separate lotteries will be run to match various bands of property value. For example, the loss of a hotel will not be in the same lottery as loss of a small piece of agricultural land. Lotteries will be shown live on television. The order drawn will be the order land can be chosen in age order. It is fairer that a living 80-year-old GC refugee gets priority to choose over an 18-year-old who recently inherited land from his or her refugee grandmother.
- No capital gains tax or transfer tax will apply to properties described above owned by GC refugees or their heirs. They will be free to sell, buy, merge, or swap them. Therefore, I propose the Land Registry should be made public, subject to conditions on personal privacy.
- The new ‘Varosha Garden City’ will be 60% owned by all GC refugees (subject to point ‘3’ above). They will all individually own shares in the company that owns the city. Imagine having shares in a company that owned a smaller version of Dubai before it was built. This will be a long-term investment that could eventually repay every cent GC refugees are owed. However, it will be a personal decision whether to sell equity, borrow against it, or keep it for the long term.
- Families could consider eventually leveraging their Varosha equity to help the younger generation get on the property ladder. I want every adult Cypriot to own their own home, and symbolically have their own beehive, milk goat, grapevine, and fig tree.
A by-product of all the above is that villages will be transformed, potentially with the additional help of EU grants. Currently there is no incentive to rebuild TC properties. GC refugees who rent TC properties in the south via the GC government have been reluctant to spend money in case TCs ever have the right to return. Other positive potential by-products: the ‘special contribution for defence’ tax could eventually be abolished and mandatory military conscription eventually phased out.
I personally believe the Russian invasion should not be compared to events that happened 50 years ago in Cyprus. However, not everyone will agree.
My blueprint does not reward the aggressors ‘TRNC’ and Turkey for the 1974 invasion, as substantial compensation must be paid by a new generation of Turks. As an analogy, imagine 50 years ago your wicked neighbour stole 40% of your land, killed some of your relatives, avoided accountability with local courts, and escaped justice. But what if 50 years later, today, your grandchildren and those of the wicked neighbour agreed to discuss compensation? And would it make a difference if the wicked neighbour was no longer alive? The fact is the Turkish politicians and senior army officers that orchestrated the 1974 invasion are probably dead. The younger ‘TRNC’ generation, whom I will be negotiating with, may have taken part as conscripts, but they did not mastermind the invasion.
It will not surprise me if Russia recognises ‘TRNC’ as a state in the not-too-distant future. They may do so for two reasons. Firstly, as a punishment to Cyprus for taking the EU position on the Russian invasion and implementing sanctions. Secondly, to try to legitimise its annexation of Crimea and eastern Ukraine by using ‘TRNC’ as a ‘justification’ to intervene with force out of necessity to ‘protect’ the minority. My reasoning is based on Russia recently getting closer to Turkey economically despite its NATO membership, and Russia recently appointing Mr Murat Zyazikov as ambassador to Cyprus. He is Muslim, ex-KGB/FSB, and was a hard-line governor of the Russian Republic of Ingushetia.
If I am president, Cyprus will generally continue to follow the majority EU position on Russia, remain militarily neutral, welcome Russians not subject to sanctions, and do more to support the Ukrainian people philanthropically.
Step 1: Vote for me at the presidential election in February 2023. If I win the election, it will be a public mandate to give my new government and I permission to discuss all the above with ‘TRNC’. Or put another way, permission for a framework to talks that initially has no framework yet includes discussions under the auspices of UN Security Council resolutions for a bicommunal bizonal solution. It will be a one-time attempt to resolve the Cyprus problem once and for all within 2 years with everything on the table including the possibility of partition in return for substantial compensation, in the tens of billions of euros and the return of Varosha.
Step 2: If elected, my government and I will have the mandate to negotiate with ‘TRNC’ behind closed doors. Greek and Turkish Cypriots should control their own destiny.
Step 3: Negotiate a settlement subject to referenda and publicly disclose the details in full. I will not recommend a GC referendum if the ‘TRNC’ offer is a bad one. I will withdraw the two-state solution option if it has no chance of success, hence my seven red lines. For example, if ‘TRNC’ only offers Varosha back how can they offer something ‘back’ that already belongs to GCs?
Step 4: In consultation with all political parties, will the council of ministers agree it should be put to the vote in a referendum?
Step 5: Hold separate referendums in both communities. [Personal experiences: over the last 10 years I have discussed the feasibility of partition in return for substantial GC compensation with focus groups, my friends, and relatives. I observed that wealthy Greek Cypriots were generally totally against the idea (even those that lost property), and so were nearly all Greeks or Cypriots living in Greece with few connections to Cyprus. However, the Greece-based ones were more open to the possibility if a Cyprus settlement helped solve the Greek/Turkish Aegean dispute.]
Step 6: If both these referendums pass the ‘yes’ vote, a two-state solution will happen after. Should such a day ever materialise, I will have a major crisis of conscience. I will be grieving being the trigger to have possibly given away nearly one third of our island to the descendants of an aggressor, yet proud to have helped broker peace 50 years later with compensation in the tens of billions of euros, and a new Varosha Garden City built. Those influential in making peace deals or speaking up for justice, have been assassinated. For example, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, Prime Minister Rabin, and President Sadat. If it helps resolve the Cyprus problem so that our 1974 refugees can finally get compensation subject to referenda, I’m willing to take this risk.
Step 7: If steps 3 – 5 fail, we as a nation can still take the moral high ground for at least trying to innovatively resolve a 50-year-old problem. However, if no solution can be found, it is unlikely GC refugees or their heirs will ever get compensation, and everyone can probably say ‘goodbye’ to a settlement, financial compensation, and Varosha forever.
 The expression ‘Greek Cypriot’ or ‘GC’ throughout this manifesto generally includes minorities such as Latin rights, Pontin, Armenian and Maronite Cypriots living in the south. ‘TRNC’ refers to the illegal regime in the occupied north generally populated by Turkish Cypriots and Turkish settlers from the mainland, unlawfully given GC land and property.