ANKARA - If leaked documents are anything to go by, the prognosis of the Cyprus reunification talks does not make happy reading for Ankara, as Turkey faces another moment of reckoning in its protracted European Union membership bid later this year. The absence of a solution there could spell trouble here.
With Turkey facing a review of the European Union accession talks at the end of the year, the recently leaked official documents that tell of the lack of progress in the ongoing Cyprus negotiations do not bode well for Ankara.
An official Turkish Cypriot document on the negotiations with the Greek Cypriots, dating back to early February, has confirmed the disparities between the two sides first revealed in a leaked Greek Cypriot document.
An implicit deadline for resolution on the divided island is coming up in November, with the publication of the European Union's next progress report on Turkey. The report will evaluate whether or not Turkey has observed the Ankara Agreement to open its ports and airports to Greek Cypriot vessels.
According to the most recently released document, obtained by the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review, a federal government and power sharing remain the major areas of contention. "There is no major difference on which areas should be under the federal authority," says the Turkish Cypriot document, which takes a softer tone than the Greek Cypriot version. "The only issue under federalism on which the two sides could not converge at all is the federal government."
Within the framework of negotiations that began Sept. 3, Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet Ali Talat and Greek Cypriot President Demetris Christofias have held 16 meetings to discuss administration and power sharing on the island. The official Greek document, leaked to the Greek Cypriot press, listed points of convergence and disagreement on key issues that would affect a reunited state, including governance and power sharing.
According to the Turkish document, the Greek Cypriot side proposed a system that would select a president and vice president in a public vote based on a single list with a weighted ballot. The Turkish Cypriot side instead favors a Swiss-style presidential council, to which members are elected by a senate on the basis of a single list.
Moreover, the Turkish document maintains Turkish Cypriots have submitted their proposal to the United Nations and Greek Cypriots for a new state of Cyprus, or a "virgin birth," modelled on the Annan Plan for reunification.
It said the Greek Cypriots had so far evaded discussion on the topic. "We said in our proposal that we are ready to accept the formulation in the Annan Plan, though it is not ideal for us," the document said.
Significant points of convergence include EU affairs, foreign affairs and defense policies, Cyprus citizenship, migration, the Central Bank, the federal budget and air space.
The Turkish Cypriot proposal would establish a presidential council consisting of seven members, four of whom would belong to the constituent state holding the majority of the population and three belonging to the other state. The president and vice president could not be chosen from the same constituent state during the same term and both posts would be subject to rotation every 12 months. The rotation would take place based on a 3 to 2 ratio.
In the Greek Cypriot proposal, the presidential council would consist of nine members, six from the Greek Cypriot side and three from the Turkish Cypriot side. The rotation would take place based on a 4 to 2 ratio that favors the Greek Cypriots.
Both sides agreed to a Parliament with two houses and a Senate that consisted of equal numbers of Greek and Turkish Cypriot members. They have not come to an agreement over the composition of the House of Representatives. The Turkish Cypriot side favors election on the basis of community citizenship for the Senate, but based on founding state citizenship for the House of Representatives. The Greek Cypriots want elections for both bodies to be made on the basis of permanent residence.
A significant point of disagreement centers on the sovereignty of the federal state. The Turkish side holds that approval of the constituent states should be sought over international agreements that could affect its internal affairs. This proposal is rejected as a breach of the single-sovereignty principle by the Greek Cypriots, who argue that founding states can only make agreements on cultural and commercial issues, with mediation from the federal government. The Turkish side also wants guarantees that the federal state will maintain an equal distance from Greece and Turkey until the latter becomes a member of the EU.