Examination of Witness (Questions 80-99)|
2 NOVEMBER 2004
CH GCMG MR OZDEM
Q80 Chairman: Mr Sanberk, one question
before I turn to Mr Mackay: equally, Turkey does not recognise
the Government of the Republic of Cyprus. It is very probable
that as from December Turkey will be in negotiations with 25 members
of the European Union; do you foresee any technical difficulties
in Turkey negotiating with the European Union, one of whose members
it does not officially recognise?
Mr Sanberk: First of all, I believe
that the call for recognition of the Republic of Cyprus is irrelevant
under present conditions because Turkey has expressed its readiness
to recognise the new partnership state which was going to emerge
as a result of the negotiations between the two sides under the
comprehensive settlement plan of the United Nations, but this
plan is rejected. Again, my answer to you would be the same as
my answer to Mr Hamilton, I trust that the European Union will
find ways; the European Union has the experience I would think
of intractable situations and I hope that we will sort this out
but, if not, they will have a real problem. This problem was foreseen
when the European Union applied this one-sided conditionality
in the absence of a level playing field.
Chairman: Thank you.
Q81 Mr Mackay: Can I just explore a bit
further with you how the Annan Plan might have been saved and
the referendum won. Clearly, that was dependent upon the Greek
Cypriots voting differently in the majority than the way they
did. It is clear that the Greek Cypriots were very worried about
the security situation and the phasing of troop withdrawals within
the Plan. Do you feel that the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey might
be more accommodating in this respect?
Mr Sanberk: I do not think so,
because the Annan Plan was based on a very fragile balance and
it was very, very difficult to arrive at this conclusive stage.
It was finalised painstakingly with huge efforts from all parties,
including the United Nations and the European Union and both sides.
The failure of the Annan Plan, in my opinion, is the lack of the
political will of the Greek Cypriot leadership, they did not speak
up for the Annan Plan and I remember that Commissioner Verheugen
was not allowed to speak for the Annan Plan before the referendum,
I think before the 24th.
Q82 Mr Mackay: If I could just take you
to Burgenstock in March of this year, it was the fresh proposals
that were put on the table and insisted upon by Turkey and Turkish
Cypriots which led to the final version of the Plan. That seemed
to be its undoing with the Greek Cypriotswe are talking
about the continuation of the Treaty of Guarantee and a very large
number of Turkish troops remaining on the island, being phased
out only very gradually, at a time when one knows Greek troops
have withdrawn from the island. I can understand why it was proposed
but it was also very provocative and also ensured a Greek "no"
vote, which is why you and I are now here, because there is an
Mr Sanberk: I do not think so.
Of course, I was not in Burgenstock and it is very difficult
for me to speak on it, but the main reason in my opinion was the
lack of political will in the Greek Cypriot side to push the case
with the rest of the Greek Cypriot population. Again, I have confidence
in this matter in one third of the Greek Cypriots because they
expressed their willingness to share their destiny with the Turkish
Cypriots, but they are only a few and the majority, unfortunately,
do not see their future with the Turkish Cypriots. One thing which
is very worrying for me is the high percentage of the youth, young
Greek CypriotsI think about 96% of the Greek Cypriot young
population according to some polls expressed negatively, they
do not share their future with the Turks. This is something which
should be addressed. I think these are the real issues.
Q83 Mr Mackay: 96% of young people were
against the Plan.
Mr Sanberk: Of the Greek Cypriot
Mr Mackay: That is very interesting.
We will pursue that, I hope, next week when, as you know, we are
visiting the island. Thank you.
Q84 Chairman: Under the last-minute proposals
there would still be Turkish troops indefinitely on the island,
reducing to 650 by the year 2019. Is it your judgment that this
was a red rag to the bull, that this was highly provocative to
the Greek Cypriot population, the continued position of Turkish
troop on the island?
Mr Sanberk: Again, this is an
irrelevant question, with all due respect, because the answer
is contained in the Annan Plan; Turkey has expressed its readiness
to withdraw its forces, together with the withdrawal of Greek
forces and Greek Cypriot forces, according to a timetable as foreseen
in the Plan. But this Plan is rejected so now I think we are back
to square one and we all have to sort out this problem; it is
a real problem.
Q85 Mr Maples: One of the things Lord
Hannay suggested was that with the opening of the Green Line the
political parties on either side should start to talk to each
other; at least maybe that would allay some of their suspicions,
and of course we all think that is a good thing. Do you think
that that is possible? Does it need a facilitator or will it happen
by itself? I would have thought there was a danger that if a Greek
Cypriot political party talked to a Turkish Cypriot political
party, then its opponents in the southern part of Cyprus would
say "They are getting ready to sell out to the Turks",
Mr Papadopoulos would make that an election issue, and maybe the
same in the as well. Do you think it needs some sort of neutral
facilitator to get them talking to each other, or do you think
they will do it by themselves?
Mr Sanberk: Facilitators are always
useful if they are real facilitators, if they are even-handed
and impartial, but I think that the Turkish Cypriots by unilateral
decision, as you recall, opened the borders before the referenda
and in the face of the negotiations. I think it was a very intelligent
and good initiative because it has shown a political will which
was shared by the Turkish Cypriots, it was not only a decision
belonging to the Turkish Cypriot leadership, it was a decision
which was met with enthusiasm by the Turkish Cypriots. It was
reciprocated a great deal by the visits, but today again there
is something which is disturbing, and I am going to refer to the
EU Council regulations defining the terms under which the Turkish
Cypriots' trucks and taxis can travel to the south. I think there
is a problem there, Turkish trucks carrying Turkish goods and
taxis are not allowed. It has an indirect relation to your question,
but it also shows reciprocation of the goodwill is not assured.
Q86 Mr Maples: Are the political parties
actually talking to each other at the moment?
Mr Sanberk: I do not know. I think
some groups talk to each other and some groups do not; how we
can open the new channels of communication is a good question
and I am sure each of us can play a role there.
Q87 Mr Maples: In trying to get more
cross-border activity do you think cross-border trade is an absolutely
crucial ingredient in that, or do you think just social contact
Mr Sanberk: I think social contact
and also the cross-border trade, but without hindrance. There
needs to be cross-border free trade and also direct trade with
the rest of the world.
Q88 Mr Maples: Do you think that the
rejection of the Annan Plan implies, at least on the part of the
Greek Cypriot President, that he is looking for a completely different
kind of agreement? Do you think it is a rejection of bi-zonality
as a concept? He is on record, I think, as saying that he would
prefer a solution in which minority rights as citizens were guaranteed
to Turkish Cypriots but not in a bi-zonal state; do you think
that that is the position that he is still seeking to achieve,
or do you think it was details of the Annan Plan that he did not
Mr Sanberk: You mean the Greek
Q89 Mr Maples: Mr Papadopoulos.
Mr Sanberk: Again, it is very
difficult for me to interpret his views, but I personally believe
that he is against the major parameters of the Annan Plan because
he made a statement, as we all recall, either on 23 April or sometime
just before the referendum and he said "I have assumed a
state but I cannot have a community afterwards", so he was
against the Annan Plan.
Q90 Mr Maples: Because?
Mr Sanberk: Because of the basic
thrust which lies behind the Annan Plan.
Q91 Mr Maples: Let me ask you one more
thing: it looks as though in December negotiations between the
European Union and Turkey will start up, and most members of the
European Union now want that to happen and want it to be brought
to a successful conclusion. It may take a long time, but nevertheless
the process will start. How do you think that is going to affect
the Cyprus problem? I do not mean this winter, but as the negotiations
progress do you think it is conceivable that Turkey will join
the European Union without the Cyprus problem being solved? If
your answer to that is that it cannotwhich I suspect it
would bedoes that mean that the European Union has got
to find a solution to the Cyprus problem, or does it effectively
hand the veto on Turkish membership to the Greek Cypriot government
and give them negotiating leverage over the Turkish Cypriot Government?
Mr Sanberk: First of all, I do
not believe that it is possible for Turkey to join the European
Union without a solution to the Cyprus problem and I do not believe
it is desirable because it relates to the stability of the whole
Eastern Mediterranean and also our relations with our Greek friends
in Athens. So it is going to be solved, I trust it is going to
be solved. You mentioned the Turkish accession process, which
is a very important process indeed because it will help all parties
to see the equation in a different light, in a more positive light,
because then we will have a perspective of the future under the
same umbrella as some sort of a balance between the two communities
on the island and their respective Motherlands. This is something
that is very important. From that I would like to come to the
strategic argument which, in my opinion, is crucial; one of the
reasons why we are facing now this deadlock in Cyprus is the fact
that the balance which was struck by the Lausanne Treaty and which
was reconfirmed by the 1960 London and Zurich Treaties, was upset
by the unilateral admission of the Greek Cypriots, and even when
Turkey will be under the same umbrella like Greece, then of course
there will be Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots and this balance
will be re-established in the Eastern Mediterranean and, definitely,
it will help a lot to the solution of the problem. This is something
which is so very important that I do not how to re-stress it.
Q92 Mr Maples: If I could just take it
a little bit further, if the settlement is going to have to be
agreed by the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots how do the
negotiations between Turkey and the European Union start to either
encourage or put pressure on both of those people to solve it?
It could, it seems to me, have the opposite effect and give them
each an incentive to hold out for a better deal because there
is a bigger game being played above this. You seem to think that
it will bring pressure on both of them to reach a settlement,
encourage both of them to reach a settlement. I am not sure how
that force on, say, Mr Papadopoulos and Mr Talat would work.
Mr Sanberk: Not only pressure
but most of all the interest would lead them to be more conciliatory,
if I may say so, because the enlightened self-interest of all
parties will lie in finding a solution. I think the compromise
is something different than the concession; compromise has an
element of the future, prepare the future together. Concession
is an offending word, it involves lots of nationalism and jingoism,
whatever you can imagine, but compromise is very important and
it lies at the bottom of the European Union. I think that when
the Turkish Cypriots said yes to the Annan Plan it was an expression
of a compromise; the Turkish Cypriots are not European Union members,
but our Greek Cypriot friends who are members of the European
Union acted as a non-European Union member, so this is something
which is also very important.
Q93 Sir John Stanley: Mr Sanberk, I think
you were in the room when Lord Hannay said to me that he considered
the UN was going to be indispensable in facilitating and certainly
in endorsing a final settlement of the Cyprus problem. Do you
take that view yourself, or do you think that a settlement could
actually be achieved without UN involvement?
Mr Sanberk: I think the UN is
very important and, definitely, the involvement of the UN will
be inescapable and it is a good thing. The only thing of course,
let us not forget first of all that it is inescapable that Cyprus
is a standing item on the United Nations Security Council agenda,
so the United Nations has to deal with it. The next step must
be the endorsement of the United Nations Security Council of the
Annan Plan; this is something which is still pending.
Q94 Sir John Stanley: If that endorsement
is forthcoming, do you see any early role for the United Nations
in trying to get the negotiations restarted, or do you think it
is some years away?
Mr Sanberk: It is very difficult
to be a fortune teller; I do not believe that in the months ahead
of us it is going to happen, but again I am going to refer to
our Greek friends. If our Greek Cypriot friends show the will
and the capacity to share their future with the Turks on the island
and they make it clear to the rest of the world, then we are all
going to be heartened and the United Nations will take the lead
in taking up this issue, because no one is ready to start something
which is going to be doomed to failure. So the signals coming
from the Greek Cypriots are crucial.
Q95 Sir John Stanley: Do you think the
European Union would be well-advised to stay out of this negotiation
of the Cypriot settlement and leave it entirely to the UN, or
do you think the European Union should play some role here?
Mr Sanberk: I think both have
a role to play; it is impossible for the European Union to be
out of the equation because first of all the Greek Cypriots are
members of the European Union and Greece is a member of the European
Union and Turkey will hopefully start the negotiation process.
These elements can be usefully put in the service of the compromise
altogether, if we work constructively and positively with goodwill
on each side to reach a compromise.
Q96 Sir John Stanley: Do you feel there
is any danger that the European Union would be seen to be not
wholly impartial, given the fact that the Greek Cypriot element
is an European Union member state whereas Turkey is not?
Mr Sanberk: Definitely that is
going to be the case, but it is a little bit up to the European
Union. At the moment, when you look at the situation from outside,
you see that the European Union holds part of its population under
blockades and under siege, so the European Union is unable to
unable to sort out this problem and has no currency at the level
of many people in both North Cyprus and in Turkey. So definitely
this is the reason why the European Union is very important. Whether
the European Union will show the capacity and the wisdom to be
even-handed and sort out the difficulty that it faces at the moment,
I do not know, butand this is my personal opinion of courseI
do not believe that a solution is possible without the European
Union and also the United Nations.
Q97 Sir John Stanley: This Committee
has particular responsibility for and its primary focus is the
foreign policy of the British Government. Would you like to give
us your views as to the role that the British Government should
be playing to try to produce a settlement?
Mr Sanberk: The British Government
is, of course, a United Nations Security Council member and Britain
is a Guarantor power. Of all the European Union members and countries,
Britain is about the best-placed country to know the intricacies
of the Cyprus problem. For the British Government to be successful
I think there is one condition, to be even-handed to both sides
and stop pretending Turkish Cypriots, the Turkish Cypriot Government,
the Turkish Cypriot state do not exist. There is a factual situation
there and if the British Government shows the capacity to recognise
the existence of the two peoples on the island with equal rights
and equal status, then all British Governments can play a very
positive and effective role.
Chairman: Mr Mackinlay, please.
Q98 Andrew Mackinlay: Can I just apologise
for not being here throughout your evidence session; no discourtesy
was intended, I was unavoidably detained, but I shall read what
you said. There are one or two things that I would like to pick
up upon. You heard me asking Lord Hannay earlier about the nature
of the Turkish community, and it does seem to me legitimate for
us in the international community to examine that. Do you know
really what the breakdown would be of people who are either children
of or were Turkish citizens before the invasion? Do you not think
that if there was to be any settlement, any negotiations, whilst
the people who have moved there from the mainland in recent years
should not have their interests dismissed, they are a separate
category which either should be represented or counted in a different
way? I would like to bounce that off you if I may.
Mr Sanberk: First of all, let
me just refer to the "invasion" which, of course is
misleading and is local to its political past. I am not going
to enter into why Turkey made the entry, we all know. I think
Turkish Cypriots need to be treated equally; that means recognising
the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus as a state with all the
competencies of a state. So from a Turkish outlook they believe
that the Turkish Cypriots are entitled to at least grant citizenship
to any other people who are of Turkish origin, coming from Turkey,
so this is something which we believe is irrelevant, to challenge
the authority of the Turkish Republic because we also know that
the Greek Cypriot government grants citizenship to people coming
from the Black Sea region, from Australia and elsewhere without
asking the Turkish side. So I think, again, this is a serious
problem and to present a plan such as the Annan Plan which also
stipulates and has some disposition to sort out thisunfortunately,
the Plan was rejected and we start back to talk about the same
questions as we were talking about for the last 20 or 40 years.
Q99 Andrew Mackinlay: The settlement
of Cyprus is a matter for the people of Cyprus, but European Union
citizenship is my business, is it not? Basically, the people who
have come from Turkey in recent years, you are inviting those
of us in the European Union to accept them into European citizenship
unilaterally; why should we accept them as European Union citizens
when they are not citizens of the de jure Government of Cyprus?
Mr Sanberk: They are not citizens
of the European Union as I understand, they are citizens of the
TRNC which is not a member of the European Union.