Dr. Kypros Chrysostomides Discusses the Future of Cyprus

"Without wanting to underestimate the difficulties in reaching a negotiated solution to our problem, it seems to me, that after several decades of confrontation it is now time to look ahead" - Dr. Kypros Chrysostomide

​​​​​The following is an open letter from Dr. Kypros Chrysostomides, managing partner of Chrysostomides & Co.​ 

Without wanting to underestimate the difficulties in reaching a negotiated solution to our problem, it seems to me, that after several decades of confrontation it is now time to look ahead; into the future; beyond the past; in order to jointly reclaim our whole country, Cyprus, for ourselves alone. This is our obligation as citizens of this country and a vision to be shared by all of us.

That is why today we should look into the future, after the solution. To look into the difficulties of operating a bipolar federation and the opportunities that will be created by such federal solution.

"To look into the difficulties of operating a bipolar federation and the opportunities that will be created by such a federal solution"?

Once we overcome all problems associated with the forthcoming negotiations then we shall enter into a new era of our common history. We shall find ourselves in a common new system of governance, a federal system that is completely new for all of us. It will be our common state, as it will be transformed and agreed upon by way of a referendum in both communities. It is, however, understood that all federal institutions and organs of the state, like the Presidency, the Senate, the Parliament, the Supreme Court, etc. should be in place ahead of the referendum.

What we must realise is that the new structure will indeed be a common structure, belonging to G/C and T/C, all the prospective citizens of the federation. There will not be two separate “constituent states” and a separate “federal state”. The whole system will be one unifying structure, consisting of two levels of government and three component parts. So we should see this as a single system that is characterised by the common “allegiance” of all its component parts, by the “allegiance” of all to the common state. By this, I do not mean only the three component parts but simultaneously all of us, all of its citizens irrespective of the population ratio of each community. Unless we realise this, whatever is achieved by the new imminent negotiations, if it will not be a sustainable system, it will be bound to fail.

So, firstly we should not think that by the term “bizonal-bicommunal federation” it is meant that there will be a permanent separation between the two communities and that the federal state will belong to the one or the other community. There shall be no agreement for a permanent dismemberment of our country. On the contrary, we shall agree to permanently live together in peace and prosperity for the years to come. Neither the G/C nor the T/C will be dominating or imposing control over each other, nor, of course, creating a situation whereby Turkey has a permanent control over our island.

What are the main hurdles to be overcome? We all know where the stumbling blocks are in the negotiations for the moment: the executive, the competences, the treaty-making powers, the property questions, the economy, the territorial adjustments, the guarantees, the stationing of troops in Cyprus, the continuity of the state, the settlers, the right of Turks or Greeks to settle in our country etc.

So firstly, do we have a common dream for our country? Do we wish to see all Cypriots, Greek and Turkish alike, developing a common sense of collective responsibility vis-à-vis our common European homeland; our common state; and a sense of a common allegiance, in a wisely structured federal partnership? Which should in no way deviate from the principles of democracy, social justice, compassion and solidarity? With the solution, all citizens should be reassured that they are part and parcel of a democratic political life, where their voice counts and their individual rights are fully respected and protected? Do we agree that unless our efforts to restore political unity on the island succeed, the present status quo will persist? The present situation is unacceptable, do we all believe this?

We, Cypriots, have a right and an obligation to reclaim our country for ourselves and to reverse the unacceptable status quo. But we need an honest answer to these questions that I have outlined. If the answer is negative, or if the principle is not readily accepted then we have failed our duty towards our country. The future will not be better than today.

I am of the opinion that all of us, in one voice should say and show in practice that we are determined to continue seeking reunification of our country in a wisely structured bizonal, bicommunal federation, under fair and tolerable terms for all. Such terms should be consonant with the universal principles of democracy (a better system has not been found as yet) the rule of law and respect of human rights of all citizens, Greek and Turkish alike. If we do not do it, my prediction is that even if the solution is accepted by the majority in both communities, a happy future is not guaranteed.

Do we all agree that a common foundation for a solution is none other than a truly independent state, run by its Cypriot citizens, to the exclusion of all others? I mean mainly that our so-called “motherlands” will not either control or decisively interfere with our affairs and that we shall responsibly solve any problems that may arise in the functioning of the state ourselves, with the purpose of maintaining the unity of our country in its new form. If not, then others will dictate their wishes and we shall never feel free and independent. We should aspire to show the world how a sincere cooperation bears fruit. We should, therefore, avoid tutelage and control by any other neighbouring country which would limit the real independence of our common home as has happened in the past.

Furthermore, do all of us believe in the European Union? If yes, then the known values of this union must guide us as well. Admittedly the entire territory of the island is European soil. We are disappointed quite often when the EU departs from such values and principles. In the end, however, they prevail. Consequently, we must declare together our continuous commitment to the European destiny that has maintained peace in Europe for more than half a century; something that had not happened in the past. Within the EU we shall be able to maintain peace and cooperation in our island as well. Personally, despite recent disappointments, I share the European dream and believe in its future successful continuation.

The essence of a federation is that its various parts “must desire to be united, but not to be unitary”. This is the cornerstone of a successful federation in contrast to a confederation.

A federal state implies unity of independence and international personality, that is to say, it can exist alone in international law, while the federated states do not appear separately at that level; it presupposes a single nationality and a single territory. At the same time, it means a division of powers between central and regional governments and a certain degree of independence between central and regional governments.

On the other hand, “confederation” is an association of sovereign states, where each retains its own separate sovereignty and international personality and assigns certain functions to a central authority that acts solely as their trustee. Such trustee is subordinate to the sovereignty of the independent states which by an international law agreement have jointly constituted the confederation.

This latter situation does not exist in Cyprus. Hence the political equality in no way means confederate status of the new structure, and at the same time not a numerical equality, but sincere participation in the affairs of the future federation to be. Do we all understand and agree on this distinction? If not, then we have failed to understand each other. This is not a good omen for our future. If the one or the other side thinks in a separatist manner and follows a separatist spirit during the negotiations, then the only conclusion that emerges is preparation for secession after achieving a federal solution.

Furthermore, we must be aware of the special difficulties of bipolar federations. In Cyprus, the components will be only two, even if there shall be Greek or Turkish Cypriot units or cantons in the area of the one or the other community. It is natural that the insistence on equality in all respects and the need for unanimity in all state functions will necessarily create deadlocks. Therefore, if we wish the new scheme not to collapse with the first deadlock or disagreement, we must devise an effective crisis resolution or, better, to devise ways of breaking deadlocks. Otherwise, the state will be brought to a standstill. This cannot be acceptable in a modern world. I hope you agree that we must view this issue with sincerity, having in mind our common goals described above. A special political organ composed of Cypriot “wise men or women” should be established with the task of finding solutions within the shortest period of time in accordance with a procedure that should lead to a binding decision. This could be for example the Constitutional Supreme Court or a special arbitral body. Obviously, there are “wise men or women” among us. Additionally, if the wise body fails to reach a decision contrary to their mandate, then we should probably resort to an international arbitration by one or three such wise men and women and their decision, unanimous or by majority, should be binding on all in the federation. I am sure you agree with this, particularly if such international arbitrators (neither Greeks, nor Turks nor British) are appointed either by the ICJ or the CJEU.

In the interim, I may suggest gestures from both sides to show their goodwill and their commitment to reach a settlement “tolerable” to both communities. By “tolerable” I mean that such settlement will not satisfy the deep-rooted desires of all members of each community. Goodwill is required on behalf of both sides without external interference.

Finally, it cannot be plausibly argued that nothing existed in Cyprus prior to the final settlement, when achieved. In fact, the state of Cyprus, as a shell or an umbrella, shall continue to exist unchanged for its citizens in international law. And this is so, despite the internal problems dating back to 1963-4 and despite the military invasion of 1974 and the subsequent attempt at secession. In this manner, after the solution the state of Cyprus will still be there for all of us, member of the UN, of the EU, of the Council of Europe, the European Human Rights Convention, etc. This would in no way harm either community. The only thing that will change is the respective participation in the new federal system. This is how, in good faith, we should interpret the various existing guidelines (11 February 2014) or those to be added (the Grans Montana indications and references to follow). Any side that denies this position, I repeat, gives the impression that their aim is not really reunification; it is rather a preparation for secession.

Source: Chrysostomides & Co