Search for a New Political Formula
Clearly, the debate over government and politics on the island of Cyprus is more fundamental than in many other countries. The lack of consensus between the two major communities over how to govern and administer the island shapes daily life in each community and dominates the island's relations with the outside world. At issue is whether the island should have one government or two, whether the two communities in fact constitute two distinct political entities and "nations," and whether some form of cooperation and power sharing between the two communities is possible.
After 1974, the debate over these issues resumed, mainly in a formal process under the auspices of the UN secretary general. Political leaders in each community asserted that there was general agreement on how to proceed with the settlement negotiations, and that both sides had minimum requirements that had to be recognized. These mainstream positions fell along a continuum from a concept of federalism, in which major powers and functions would be retained at the federal level and residual powers at the level of the province or state, to something more like confederalism, with emphasis placed on maximum authority in the constituent states and more symbolic power for the overarching apparatus.
The interests of the two communities diverged over this range, with Greek Cypriots seeking to maximize prospects for functional reunification of the island and internal mobility of people and goods, and Turkish Cypriots arguing that separation of the communities and their authority best served their security interests. As a consequence, the two sides did not share the same sense of urgency about settlement. Greek Cypriots believed that time was not on their side, and that continued division of the island favored the separation preferred by Turkish Cypriots. Greek Cypriots thus felt a greater sense of urgency than Turkish Cypriots, who were more satisfied with the status quo.
At the same time, dissident voices, with little political significance, argued for options other than the federal solution, including returning to preindependence proposals such as enosis, possibly with certain rights provided to Turkey, or double enosis, in which the two parts of the divided island would become states or provinces of their respective motherlands.
As of 1990, the governments of the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots and the world community had embraced the idea that settlement of the Cyprus question was possible through negotiations aiming to reestablish a single government, bizonal with respect to territory and bicommunal with respect to constitutional aspects. This process continued to dominate national life and political debate in both communities.
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