Cyprus, the third largest Mediterranean island with a population of around 800,000, is the site of one of the globe s most intractable conflicts. However, since the beginning of the seventies, there has generally not been anything other than minor violent incidents between the two main communities on the island, which are of Greek and Turkish origin. In fact, according to Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots, the conflict in Cyprus was solved in 1974, when the Greek- and Turkish Cypriots were geographically separated into two distinct communities by the Turkish military invasion and occupation of the northern one-third of the island. This allowed for the emergence of a separate Turkish Cypriot state, TRNC, which is still not recognised by any country except Turkey. Nevertheless, despite numerous international efforts to help find a peaceful resolution, the conflict is very much alive today between the Greek- and Turkish Cypriots. In addition, Cyprus has been, and is deeply affected by the animosity between the two mother countries Greece and Turkey, and their involvement in the dispute. The aim of this study has been to gain insight about the peacemaking process in the Cyprus conflict, and the reasons for the continued stalemate on the island. Two questions have been examined: 1) to what degree and how has the United Nations engagement in Cyprus influenced the negotiation process and the prospects for peace? And, 2) to what degree and how has the European Union s accession negotiations affected the peacemaking process and the protracted stalemate? However, in order to answer these questions, it has been necessary to also consider the (pre) existing contextual environment of the conflict, in order to identify the kind of situation that confronts any actor wanting to assist in finding a solution to this protracted conflict.
My working hypothesis stated that the UN s peacekeeping force in Cyprus s (UNFICYP) success in limiting armed conflict has reduced the Cypriot parties incentives for peace negotiations and has consequently hindered the UN s peacemaking efforts by reinforcing the stalemate. Zartman s hurting stalemate theory states that incentives for peace negotiations would be greater if each side felt the conflict situation as more pressing and costly. My analysis indicates that this argument has some validity in the Cyprus case. The tolerable and non-hurting status quo situation has raised the parties resistant points in the peace negotiations. Both sides have defined concessions on their part as more costly than the continuation of the status quo situation. On the other hand, I also found that UNFICYP, by contributing to calm the situation, has to a certain extent encouraged peacemaking. The analysis reveals that without the presence of UNFICYP, the odds for armed conflict on Cyprus and in the region would increase, making it even harder to get the parties to the negotiation table. This is particularly due to the deep intercommunal mistrust between the two communities on the island, as well as the interests and involvement of the mother countries Greece and Turkey, which are among the important factors contributing to the continuing stalemate on the island. UNFICYP contribution in calming the situation can thus be seen as a necessary, but not sufficient contribution to peacemaking. However, the ultimate aim of all UN involvement is to achieve a long lasting solution to the underlying issues of the conflict, thus making its own involvement superfluous. The UN s peacemaking efforts in Cyprus have not yet achieved this, in spite of countless UN led negotiations between the disputing parties over the years. My findings suggest that the main reasons for failed peacemaking are a combination of the contextual factors at the inter-communal and regional level, as well as organisational factors related to the UN itself: There are some characteristics of the UN as a third party which may make it unsuitable for breaking the continuing stalemate on Cyprus. I have shown that there are certain contradictions in the international system related to sovereignty, non-intervention and territorial integrity on the one side, and the rights of ethnic groups on the other. These contradictions can hinder mediation efforts and actually may lead to escalation, since the UN s own principle and arena can be used as a legitimate channel of conflict. It has been demonstrated that this is indeed so in Cyprus. The UN s long engagement has made it a hostage to its own resolutions, and has drawn the UN itself into the conflict environment. Adding the UN s limited leverage power, the disputants have been able to opt for a continuation of their struggle for their initial objectives, rather than a compromise.
On the other hand, the EU accession negotiations have been seen as a crucial situational pressure that would alter the parties incentives for a solution. There are some strong economic and political interests tied to a EU membership. The EU may, therefore, by virtue of its own attributes, create a movement in the parties perceptions which the UN is not able to do. I therefore attempted in the last analytical chapter to examine the so-called EU catalyst effect on the Cyprus conflict. The underlying aim was to analyse whether Cyprus and Turkey s prospects for EU membership have created incentives for a solution on the part of the disputing parties. My findings showed that the EU accession process is indeed the most important factor effecting on the situation in Cyprus today. However, the EU process has not, per today, had the positive effect towards a solution as initially foreseen. I found that the accession negotiations give too much importance to economic rationality over societal security. Secondly, the EU is perceived as a biased party, accused by Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots of privileging Greek over Turkish interests. Thirdly, the analysis shows that the EU has a hard time pressing Turkey towards change because of the Turkish perception of its own geostrategic importance. Lastly, the fact that the EU removed the precondition of a settlement before Cyprus s accession leaves no strong incentives for the Greek Cypriots to concede and find a solution. As the EU accession talks proceed, each side is actually hardening its attitudes. The prospects for Cyprus joining the EU as a unified federal state seem therefore per today, as quite uncertain. The thesis found that ultimately, Turkey and the EU (through its membership offer) retain the key to allowing a political settlement in Cyprus. This implies that Ankara should be given a clear prospect of EU membership if it manages to meet all the EU requirements. Without a stronger feeling of really being accepted as a EU-candidate, it will be likely that Turkey national forces in Turkey will triumph, making the eastern Mediterranean even more disturbed in the near future.