After Kick-Starting Cyprus Talks, U.S. Should Now Stand Back

After Kick-Starting Cyprus Talks, U.S. Should Now Stand Back
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, Brussels, Belgium, Feb. 9, 2011 (photo by the European People's Party licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license).

This year started on a particularly pessimistic note in Cyprus. In December 2013, the latest attempt by the United Nations to bring the island’s Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders back to the negotiating table had foundered. The two sides had been unable to reach an agreement on the wording of a joint statement that would have laid down the parameters for a renewed attempt to reunify the island.

At the core of the dispute was a disagreement on the nature of sovereignty in any settlement. While the two sides have long agreed that any solution would see the creation of a federation made up of two states and respecting the existence of the two key communities on the island—a bizonal, bicommunal federation—the Greek Cypriots wanted an ironclad guarantee from the Turkish Cypriots that any new state would also be imbued with a single internationally recognized sovereign identity. In the Greek Cypriots’ view, this condition is crucial to guaranteeing that any new state will be stable and enduring. If the two states making up the federation are both vested with their own sovereignty, the fear is that the Turkish Cypriots may try to secede in the future by citing the precedent of the break-up of Czechoslovakia into two internationally recognized states.

And then, suddenly, on Feb. 8 it was announced that the two sides had finally managed to settle on a text. What made the news all the more surprising was that the deal had been brokered by the United States, rather than the United Nations.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.