Eighth Round of Talks

In July 1980, the then U.N. Secretary-General's Special Representative in Cyprus, Mr. Hugo Gobbi, started an intensive round of consultations with both sides with the expressed purpose of reconvening the inter-communal talks. The two sides eventually agreed to resume the talks without advance commitments or preconditions and to explain their positions on all issues at the conference table. It was also agreed that the meaning of controversial terms such as "bizonality" and "security" would be determined during the detailed discussions to follow. The interlocutors - Mr. George Ioannides for the Greek Cypriot side and Mr. Umit Onan for the Turkish community - met under the chairmanship of the Secretary-General's Special Representative in Cyprus on 9 August.
Mr. Ioannides had, in the meantime pledged that the Greek Cypriot side would attend the talks in a spirit of goodwill, and was ready and willing to discuss "constructively, meaningfully and substantively all the aspects of the Cyprus problem". At the inaugural meeting, Mr. Gobbi read out a statement by the U.N. Secretary-General outlining the latter's understanding of the common ground between the two sides and setting out the subjects to be discussed. These included the resettlement of Varosha by its Greek Cypriot inhabitants under U.N. auspices, practical measures to promote goodwill and mutual confidence, and constitutional and territorial issues. The U.N. Secretary-General's statement also stressed that the talks were being resumed on the basis of the high-level agreements of February 1977 and May 1979. His understanding, he said, was that both parties supported a "federal solution of the constitutional aspect and a bizonal solution of the territorial aspect"1. On entering into negotiations, the Greek Cypriot side stressed that the procedure of the talks should on no account be construed as a modification of the two high-level agreements. It stressed further that it was seeking a federal solution of the Cyprus problem in all its aspects as envisaged in the February 1977 and May 1979 agreements. The federal state will comprise two, as opposed to many constituent areas - one to be administered by the Greek Cypriots and the other by the Turkish Cypriots - in accordance with the accepted constitutional principles of federalism. Like all federations there must be no borders between the regions and the central government must have enough powers to ensure its unity.
Originally, the Greek Cypriot side had advocated a multi-regional federation, but, as a further concession to Turkish Cypriot demands, accepted a federation composed of only two regions. The term "bizonal" was subsequently used by the Greek Cypriot side as a synonym for "biregional" and in contradistinction to "multi-regional". Initially, the Turkish Cypriot side had also used the term to define two regions or areas as opposed to more than two. Professor Soysal, the Turkish constitutional expert who had drawn up the Turkish Cypriot proposals of 1978, confirmed in a speech on 18 October 1979 that the words "bizonal" and "biregional" were interchangeable. He said: "At the beginning the leaders of both communities used the term "biregional" but later the Turkish side began to use the word "bizonal". At first both connoted the same concept but presently they have gained different meanings". It was only after the Greek Cypriot side announced that it had accepted a biregional as opposed to a multi-regional federation, thereby removing what had hitherto been professed by the Turkish Cypriot leadership to be the main obstacle to a solution of the Cyprus problem, that the Turkish Cypriot side invested the word with a new meaning. In redefining the term, it revealed that it ascribed to it a meaning associated with "confederation" of "two independent states" despite the fact that such concept ran counter to the two high level agreements1. In fact this was also verified by Professor Soysal who said in a statement to the Turkish daily "Aydinlik" (10.8.1980) the very day the talks resumed that the concept of "bizonal" implies the existence of a "border". Although such statements cast a shadow over the future of the dialogue, the first cycle of the inter-communal talks began on 16 September and the U.N. General Assembly debate on the Cyprus problem, scheduled for November, was postponed as a gesture of goodwill on the part of the Greek Cypriot side.
After the two sides had stated their initial positions on the four items of the agenda they were required to submit concrete proposals on these issues. The Greek Cypriot side tabled proposals on measures to promote mutual confidence. These included the payment of old age pensions and social insurance benefits to Turkish Cypriot students at institutions of higher education. Although both parties were expected to suggest ways of encouraging rapprochement, the Turkish Cypriot side not only failed to respond but demanded additional measures that would prejudge the constitutional solution and consolidate partition.
As for the Turkish Cypriot proposals on Varosha, these were no more positive than those of April 1978. The area proposed for resettlement was only a small section of the town with no outlet to the Government controlled area. Moreover, it would not be handed back to its Greek Cypriot inhabitants, as envisaged in the 1979 Kyprianou-Denktash agreement, but would, in effect, remain under Turkish Cypriot control. The Greek Cypriot side presented complete concrete constitutional proposals in October 1980 while the Turkish Cypriot side tabled its constitutional proposals three months later (January 1981). The Turkish Cypriot side reiterated its long-standing demands for two autonomous entities under a confederal umbrella, whereas the Greek Cypriot proposals provided for a united federal state.
On 5 August 1981, the Turkish Cypriot side submitted what it termed comprehensive proposals for the solution of the Cyprus problem including, for the first time, territorial proposals on a map.
These, presented after years of delay, offered to return 2,6% of occupied territory and allowed only about 31.000 refugees to go back to their homes. The Turkish Cypriot side also put forward constitutional proposals which were identical to those of January 1981.
On 26 August the Greek Cypriot side gave its Reasoned Views on the Turkish Cypriot Proposals, and on 9 September submitted further proposals elaborating on its previous constitutional and territorial proposals.


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Giorgos Zacharia ( 1995-1999.