An OSCE reconciliation strategy for Cyprus?

Newspaper Article
Alfred A. Farrugia
Alfred A. Farrugia
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An OSCE reconciliation strategy for Cyprus?
Written: By S-CAR
Publication: Famagusta Gazette
Published Date: December 04, 2012

The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the 57 participating States of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) are meeting this Thursday and Friday in Dublin, Ireland, for the 19th Meeting of the OSCE Ministerial Council to review and assess the Organization’s activities during the past year and offer national viewpoints on security matters.

In June, the OSCE held its 2012 Security Days event in Vienna, in the course of which reconciliation was discussed in one of the sessions. During that session “reconciliation was identified as an essential building block for working towards a security community, and a key element of any durable peace”.

Cyprus is an OSCE participating State still searching for positive peace. In his 2012 report to the OSCE Permanent Council on the conflict cycle, Secretary General Lamberto Zanier referred to reconciliation “as a central aspect of post-conflict rehabilitation, prevention and resolution”.

It remains to be seen whether the OSCE Foreign Ministers have the political will to give substance to the vision of the OSCE Secretary General on reconciliation when it comes to Cyprus.

The OSCE is promoting a workshop towards a strategy for reconciliation in the OSCE area on 18 December, in Vienna, as a follow-up to the 2012 Security Days event. Cyprus is within the OSCE area, and the Foreign Ministers have an excellent opportunity to send a message towards an OSCE reconciliation strategy for Cyprus.

OSCE institutions

The OSCE has the appropriate institutions, tools and mechanisms to formulate and implement such a strategy. The OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities (HCNM) could use the lessons learnt, experience and expertise of his Office to give a positive contribution to such a reconciliation strategy for Cyprus.

The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) could invite academics, practitioners and other professionals, like Fulbright Professor Benjamin Broome who succeeded to build a significant peace constituency in Cyprus from a handful of peace loving Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, to help it draw up a reconciliation strategy that would be acceptable to the Government of Cyprus.

There are a number of peacebuilding institutions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Cyprus itself that could be invited by ODIHR to assist in the formulation and implementation of a reconciliation strategy for Cyprus. These members of civil society together with the experts in peacebuilding and conflict resolution could draw up a reconciliation strategy that would turn the current limited peace constituency in Cyprus to a large majority of both the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities.

The Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy (IMTD) and the Alliance for Peacebuilding (AfP) of Washington, DC, and others, which have also been active in Cyprus could similarly be invited by the OSCE and ODIHR to devise elements of the reconciliation strategy targeting business, private citizens, educators, peace activists, religious leaders, the media, and others, from the two Cypriot communities to help them move from negative peace to positive peace.

EU contribution

The financial implications for the formulation and implementation of such an OSCE reconciliation strategy for Cyprus could be covered by the European Union (EU), which constitutes practically half the membership of the OSCE. With Cyprus currently holding the Presidency of the EU, now is the appropriate time for the EU Foreign Ministers in Dublin to take a decision to make a real difference in Cyprus.

The Government of Cyprus needs to be consulted and constantly informed on the formulation of such a reconciliation strategy, and it obviously needs to approve it before it is implemented.

The current policy and major concession of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation have not worked because they imply the legal recognition of partition achieved by the use of force. A serious and constructive OSCE reconciliation strategy at the intra-state level involving the two Cypriot communities could lead to a bottom-up solution of the Cyprus challenge and a peaceful unitary European State.

Those Turkish Cypriots who feel no loyalty to the Government of Cyprus and are not prepared to make an effort to try and live peacefully within a unitary island state, might be offered a pseudo-constituent state by Turkey within its own territory. If Turkey is in favour of taksim or partition in a sovereign independent island state like Cyprus, given its large territory, Turkey cannot be against taksim within its own borders, if it really has the interest of the Turkish Cypriots.

The majority of the Turkish Cypriots and of the Greek Cypriots are friendly and hospitable Mediterranean people, and there is nothing to prevent them from living peacefully together as they used to do in the past. Truth, justice, healing, forgiveness and peace are not beyond the capacity of the majority of citizens of Cyprus of both communities if led by professional experts in the field. An OSCE reconciliation strategy for Cyprus should find a fertile ground for a successful outcome, something that the UN Peacebuilding Commission has apparently not contemplated so far.

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