Lobby for Cyprus is a non-party-political human rights organisation campaigning for a reunited Cyprus.
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Media Watch 2004

19 February 2004
Source: BBC
Author: Barnaby Mason
Comment: The following article appeared on BBC online on 19 February 2004.
What is the UN's Cyprus plan?
"Separation in disguise?..."

Detailed talks are under way in Cyprus on a tight UN timetable with the aim of reunifying the Mediterranean island in time for its entry into the European Union on 1 May.

With heavy pressure being exerted by the EU and the United States, international officials say this is the best chance of a settlement in the 30 years that Cyprus has been divided.

Both the majority Greek Cypriots and the minority Turkish Cypriots want changes to the UN plan.

In nearly 200 pages, the UN performs a detailed balancing act between the demands of the Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

The new Cyprus, with its federal government and two equal constituent states, is modelled on Switzerland.

The sharing of power is difficult enough, but even trickier perhaps are the issues of territory and demilitarisation.

The island was divided in 1974 by a Turkish invasion of the north, itself prompted by a Greek Cypriot coup.

A settlement will mean territorial adjustments: the Greek Cypriots, a large majority of the population, want more of the land back.

How many displaced people - most of them Greek Cypriots - will be able to go home and recover their property; how many will have to be content with compensation?

Almost a quarter of the UN blueprint is devoted to elaborate arrangements on territory and property.

A related issue is the status of the settlers who have come from the Turkish mainland.

The whole of Cyprus would eventually be demilitarised; as a first step forces from Turkey and Greece would be limited to 6,000 each, which means a much sharper reduction on the Turkish side.

Any significant changes to the UN plan are potentially destabilising of the whole deal.

Separation in disguise?
On the proposed structure of government, the key question is whether the arrangements amount to a truly reunited island or a continuation of two separate states in disguise.

Cyprus is said to have a single international sovereignty, but its constituent states can have their own commercial and cultural relations with other countries.
There's a single Cypriot citizenship, but Cypriots also have internal state citizenship of their own community.

The federal parliament and executive are shared between the two sides, with mechanisms that recognise the majority's weight in taking decisions but also safeguard the interests of the minority.

Deadlocks within federal institutions are to be resolved by the Supreme Court, itself carefully balanced - or in some cases even by drawing lots. "