A demilitarized Cyprus within the framework of the solution to the Cyprus problem has been a consistent objective of the Greek Cypriot leadership. This position is also strongly advocated by President Christofias. A closer consideration of this approach reveals that the prospect does not fully serve the interests of Cyprus. In this regard it should also be noted that another major pillar –once regarded sacred – had been a non-aligned Cyprus. That in the end proved not to be in the best interests of Cyprus and has been (partly) reversed by the accession of the Republic of Cyprus to EU.
Cyprus has never been and it is unlikely that it will ever be demilitarized. If the Cypriot state is demilitarized then it is the British bases as well as Turkey that will fully and exclusively enjoy the geopolitical benefits offered by the geostrategic location of Cyprus.
Cyprus as an equal member of the EU has obligations to the European security and defense structures and should therefore be able to also enjoy the benefits. Within this framework and also within the provisions of a unifying solution, if there were to be a professional army, Cyprus could ask for a peace and security dividend for its geostrategic location and services. With a demilitarized state the obligations as well as the benefits are exclusively handed over to the British bases, as well as to Turkey. That is what the 2004 Annan Plan provided for with the demilitarization of the “United Republic of Cyprus” in conjunction with the continuity of the British bases and the enhancement and deepening of the guarantee rights of Turkey.
One should be reminded that with the Annan Plan the use of the territory of the “United Cyprus Republic” by the EU required the prior approval of Turkey. Obviously this situation does not serve the interests of Cyprus (or the interests of the EU for that matter). And this must be understood by the different decision-making centres in and outside the government.
Over time Cyprus had and continues to have a geopolitical value, which has been the subject of antagonism and friction by the different powers in the broader region. So far, this has not changed. By definition the objective would have been the determination of policies so that the Cypriot state and its citizens also enjoy benefits of this geopolitical location and value. Within the framework of its participation in the EU as well as the solution of the Cyprus problem in a way that would respond to the expectations for a truly independent Cyprus, this country could have a role. As an example, within the framework of a professional army (with the participation of Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots) there would be obligations undertaken on behalf of the EU on different areas in the broader region, including low level politics like illegal immigration, humanitarian aid and so on. And the decision for the use of Cypriot territory and facilities would have to go through Nicosia.
Turkey declares that its positions and presence in Cyprus do not only concern Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots but revolve around security in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East (Minister Babacan’s statements, 10 September). The Turks are very clearly and bluntly telling us what they demand. Insisting on objectives that do not maximize ones’ own interests, let alone serve them, does not constitute the best approach. Securing a demilitarized solution does not imply that the interests of Cyprus would be fully safeguarded. It is worth noting that the Turkish-Cypriot leadership supports this perspective in conjunction with the presence of Turkey as a guarantee power.
Interestingly during the presidential election campaign candidate Ioannis Kasoulidis had adopted the position in favour a professional army and not for a demilitarized Cyprus. At the same time the Democratic Rally, the Democratic Party, Socialist EDEK and the European Party expressed their support in favour of the application of Cyprus for accession to NATO’s Partnership for Peace. Within the framework of a demilitarized Cyprus such a prospect would not exist. Consequently, we must seriously consider putting these issues on the negotiating table. Because a viable solution of the Cyprus problem should lead to the transformation of the Republic of Cyprus into a truly equal member state of the EU.