News, interviews and opinions on Cyprus peace process
Saturday, 20 February 2016
Bizonality still a sticky question in the Cyprus talks (The Cyprus Weekly, 5 December 2015)
By Esra Aygin
Turkey’s strong commitment to finding a solution to the Cyprus problem depends on securing the bizonality of a future federal state as defined in the United Nations Security Council Resolutions, Turkish sources have said.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu separately visited the northern part of Cyprus in the past week. During their meetings with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and his negotiating team, both Cavusoglu and Davutoglu conveyed Turkey’s full backing for a speedy settlement to the Cyprus problem.
“The Republic of Turkey will not hesitate to take the necessary steps to reach a final solution in Cyprus,” Davutoglu said during a joint press conference following his meeting with Akinci.
Nevertheless, Turkey’s support comes with a high sensitivity towards the issue of bizonality, Turkish sources said. Turkish Cypriots insist that they should have a clear majority of population and property ownership in the Turkish Cypriot constituent state as defined in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolutions.
In a 1990 report to the UNSC the then Secretary General Pérez de Cuéllar said, “Bizonality should be clearly brought out by the fact that each federated state will be administered by one community which will be firmly guaranteed a clear majority of the population and of the land ownership in its area”.
The UN Security Council subsequently stated that the solution should be bicommunal and bizonal in character. Bizonality was also reaffirmed by Security Council Resolutions 716, 750 and 774. However, the Greek Cypriots do not interpret bizonality as a majority of population and property ownership, according to diplomats close to the process.
Although there is an understanding that Turkish Cypriots will de facto have a majority of population and property ownership in the Turkish Cypriot constituent state on day one, they object to setting this in stone in the agreement, according to the same sources.