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Claire Palley: Turkey must solve the Cyprus question
2005-06-08 10:30:35

by Maria Myles

Nicosia, Jun 8 (CNA) -- The comings and goings, the public as well as the behind the scenes consultations and machinations of the various players in the most recent UN attempt to settle the question of Cyprus are the theme of a book, entitled ''An International Relations Debacle'', as seen through the eyes of the author, Dr Claire Palley, who has been involved in a series of negotiations over the past few decades.

In an interview with CNA, she explains why she felt she had to write this account of what happened and looks ahead to future developments in the continuing effort to find a negotiated settlement in Cyprus.

''The outside world was completely mesmerized by the view put out by the UN about what had happened, the true picture must be given, it must be available to opinion shapers because as long as they believed that the Greek Cypriot side did not want a solution, there would be no impetus for negotiations,'' she said.

She said that the process, which had initially begun with a view to reaching a solution, deviated to ''accommodate Turkey and the UN abused the powers given to it'' for suggestions on matters of deep division between the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot positions.

Dr Palley calls on her readership to read the book ''with an open mind, knowing that I have sympathies with the Greek Cypriot side.''

''Take me with a pinch of salt,'' she said in a characteristic manner, when asked if she thought her point of view was convincing.

She said she shared the view expressed by Britain's representative for Cyprus, in his book, that unless Turkey gives its seal of approval to a solution, there can be no settlement.

''Turkey has to be brought round to the view that it is to her advantage to settle, noone will use force. The reality is that powers are not going to push Turkey, it will have to decide if it is on its own interests, if it wants to join the EU,'' she said.

Responding to questions, she said that at the last phase of the negotiations in Burgenstock, Switzerland, once the UN had realised that President Tassos Papadopoulos was not going to be pushed around, they decided to impose things on the Greek Cypriot side.

''I personally believe that they knew from after the New York meetings they had a pen and could write what they wanted because nobody could stop them,'' Dr Palley said, adding that the UN would continue with this kind of tactics if they were to come back ''because they are so used to doing this, they see this as negotiation in its final stages.''

In New York, she said, in February 2004 when Papadopoulos and the then Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash met with the UN there was ''enormous international pressure with implicit threats to recognise the Turkish Cypriot regime in northern Cyprus.'' This, she pointed out, led to an agreement on tactics and procedures which neither Cypriot side wanted.

On what can be done to bring about a solution, she said the two sides have to talk seriously to each other, recalling that ''they have never really talked directly face to face seriously except when (former) President Clerides talked about security.''

She explained that former Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash had actually dictated a proposal, which the Greek Cypriot side accepted. Denktash subsequently withdrew his proposal but the UN had pocketed and used the serious concessions Clerides had already made on the issue of security.

Dr Palley is of the opinion that some UN people had great doubts about proceeding with the referendum on the Annan plan, but as she points out others had a job to finish and ''fix it so that Turkey looks Mr Clean.''

She said that there are possibilities for both sides, through serious negotiations, to move nearer and if the two sides talk about common interests they will see there are many things that can be done.

''Turkey has no reason to stop a settlement, she can surrender benefits she has. She has to pay a cost, an internal political cost,'' she added.

On lost opportunities and mistakes by the Greek Cypriot sides, Dr Palley said the anti-colonial struggle was wrong, the lack of generosity during negotiations in the late 1960s was also a mistake. She said the next lost opportunity was February 1993 when the impetus was lost.

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