21 January, 2010

9 The Cyprus membership mess and its resolution

Intensive talks on the unity of Cyprus are underway again. At the eastern end of the Mediterranean, the island of Cyprus presents an enigma to other Europeans. Firstly it is a witness against today's politicians in Brussels and elsewhere. Why could they too not make war 'not only unthinkable but materially impossible' -- as Robert Schuman said he would do in the Schuman Declaration, sixty years ago? Do politicians know why Europe's first Community was created?

Secondly, Cyprus is geographically in Asia, so what is it doing in the European Union? Should a part of Asia be a member of Europe? The answer is Yes. We will explain why, later.

Thirdly, Cyprus has been a member since the Great Enlargement of 2004 when it joined with Malta and Central and Eastern European Countries, newly liberated from the Iron Curtain. The latter previously had regimes that were ruled by political parties that lacked public support, and denied the public right of effective expression in politics. The governing elite (who thought they knew better) ignored public opinion, demonstrations, even mass revolts against their "people's democracies", as they called them.

Look at the mess the accession negotiators came up with. In theory the whole island of Cyprus is part of the European Union. In practice it is divided. Democracy, not only the Single Market, is broken. The European rule of law is ‘suspended’ in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. The Greek Cypriot south lacks the democratic legitimacy and voice to speak for the entire island. The present division of the island is a disagreeable public reminder to these negotiator/ politicians — it indicates that something was gravely amiss in the way they went about enlargement. It shows that they did not understand the basic, democratic principles of the Community process.

The resolution of the decades-long remnants of war, killing and displaced populations is a challenge to European politicians. Behind it is a shocking story of dissembling. If the founding fathers of the first European Community in the 1950s were able to make ‘war not only unthinkable but materially impossible’ between the most belligerent and hate-filled states of Western Europe FIVE years after the horrific World War 2 with millions of dead and millions of displaced people — among people who fought each other for millennia — why cannot today's European politicians resolve the problems of one island?

The original negotiators did not resolve the problem. Don't today's politicians have the means and power to do so -- do they remember how the Community model works? Hardly. They abandoned it, or where they could not, they have hidden it!!! They spent millions on a propaganda campaign for the Lisbon Treaty that said that 1957 was the birthday of the European Community! Utter Rubbish!

Unfortunately today's party politicians are still trying to bury the real history. They have now created a political oligarchy for parties not people -- calling it the European Union. It has not destroyed the European Community but it has added a great deal of expensive and undemocratic, political fog and mirrors. They refuse to recognize referendums or even opinion polls showing how much the people disagree with them.

Today Western Europe is living in the longest period of peace that it has ever experienced since before the time of the Caesars. Have today’s politicians lost the plot? Do they lack the will and would prefer to see the problem fester? Are they Machiavellian, ignorant or incompetent?

The politicians’ abandonment of European principles is clear from the EU protocol for Cypriot accession. It shows something is seriously wrong. It does not talk about people being ‘free to choose’ — the essence of democracy — but it talks of places where the Greek Cypriot government ‘does not have effective control’. That type of terminology — control when talking about a democracy — recalls the Iron Curtain not a normal democracy.

This restriction to the citizens includes not only the Turkish Cypriots but the grey area of British Sovereign Bases of Akritiri, Episkopi, Ayios Nikolaos and Dhekelia. The Sovereign Bases fall under different international law. They have a land area about 5/6 the size of Malta. There, the people with Greek social security were considered to be resident of Cyprus.

Given the past dishonest compromises that politicians have made against the clear democratic principles of a supranational Community, is there any hope for Cypriot unity and a healthy eastern border of the EU? Will the island ever become unified and a viable Member State? The prizes for such an improvement are great.

The Europe Declaration, made by the founding fathers on 18 April 1951, the foundational document for the entire EU — which incidentally the European Commission still refuses to publish on its website europa.eu — says that membership of the European Community system is open to all peoples who are ‘free to choose’. If the European Commission won’t even acknowledge and publish the founding democratic principles of Europe’s supranational Community, that gives free reign for politicians to cheat, chisel and make closed-door, undemocratic deals.

The present talks
Having made this membership mess by compromise and not a little bit of political blackmail, European politicians — who should understand what a European Community means — are less than visible in the present intensive series of talks. Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots wrapped up last week the first of two intensive three-day discussions scheduled for this month. The next are set for 25 January.

The President of the Greek Cypriots, Demetris Christofias, a Moscow-trained historian and the Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet Ali Talat, an Ankara-trained electrical engineer, conferred in the neutral zone of Nikosia under United Nations auspices. Observers say that evidence for concrete progress is small. The UN Special Adviser Alexander Downer who is brokering the talks said that the two had ‘a free and very open exchange of views on the issue of governance and power sharing.’

The Australian diplomat would not be drawn on details whether the UN had met its objective of achieving progress. ‘As I said, and I choose my words carefully, these talks are being held very much in a positive spirit and in a very good atmosphere.

There are ten dossiers on the table. Amongst the thorniest are property and plans for a unitary state based on a mixture of federal and confederal ideas.

The talks are being somewhat hindered, if not hamstrung, by both parties having to look over their shoulders as they confer. The Turkish president is anxious about his re-election chances in April. His popularity is falling due to higher unemployment. A recent poll puts his popularity as half that of his rival for the post, Dr Dervis Eroglu. That gives him little room to make concessions under the eye of an opponent wanting to take a harder line.

The Greek Cypriot President is also under the watchful gaze of the Greek Cypriot National Council – composed of the president and leaders of all political parties represented in the House of Representatives. They too express disapproval of concessions. Further afield the leaders of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the Greek Republic of Cyprus take frequent soundings from and trips to Turkey and Greece respectively.

Should Cyprus be a member of the EU? If so why? And can any progress be made about bringing unity to the island? The only concept that has a hope to unite the island are supranational values that transcend political manipulations. That is the founding principle of the Schuman method. If the people were given the right to be able to be ‘free to choose’, what would they say?

These issues will be dealt with here in future commentaries.

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