The Cyprus Problem can and must be solved

The Cyprus Problem is a puzzle affecting the wider geopolitical alignments of Europe, the complexitiy of which deepens as time progresses. It entails elements of international law, human rights law and has a political dispute in its nucleus, while at the same time it encompasses post-conflict politics which have not been able to lead to a mutually acceptable settlement for far too long.

For those knowing the problem (the background of which will not be referred to here), there had been yet another stalemate following the rejection of the so-called Annan Plan in April 2004. Following this evolvement, the Turkish side found its first-time chance to disengage from a thrity-five-year-long political isolation, while the Greek side found itself in an internal dichognomy over the way forward. In February 2008, Demetres Christofias was elected President of the Republic of Cyprus, the legally recognised State of Cyprus which was formed in 1960.

President Christofias is known for his open-mind, forward-thinking and political will to solve the Problem. On the other side, Prime Minister Erdogan and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Mehmet Ali Talat, have also shown political will - albeit with ups and downs now and then for internal consumption reasons (hopefully) - to see a solution to the Problem.

Thus, it is now the time to solve the Problem, in a well-prepared negotiations framework under the good services of the UN SG and with the support of all five Permanent Members of the UN SC. A very small number of the 140,000 Greek Cypriots who remain displaced from their properties in the occupied areas of Cyprus have been awarded damages by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, yet the Cyprus Problem cannot be solved in a court of law. It requires a comprehensive settlement that will incorporate the principles of International Law, will create a common State functioning on the Rule of Law and that will respect human rights of all of Cyprus' citizens. Any solution, which must be commonly agreed between the two sides, must actively employ and accommodate Community Law to the best interests of both the island and the EU.

Short-term observation of the Problem and fast-track solutions is not the way to go. The sensitivities of each side must be duly taken into account, in a careful balancing of avoiding anything that could blow up what is seen by many as being the last chance to solve the issue. It should at no time be disregarded however, that Cyprus is a Member-State of the EU and no solution that diverges significantly from EC Law can ever survive.

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