Now that the dust, smoke and other natural and un-natural gases are settling, it is time to gaze into the crystal ball once more and try and see what the future holds for the period 2005-2013.
I see very rapid and very serious developments in the Cyprus issue within the next 12 months or so. These will involve both the UN and the EU, and will make the period February 2003 - April 2004 look like a walk in the park in comparison.
When the chips come down, Christofias will find himself unable to do a Tassos Annan Special. He will be unable to refuse to negotiate seriously and then go crying to the people asking them to reject the result of his non-efforts. He will not have that alternative because firstly, the UN and the EU are onto us now, and they have various alternatives in place. Is anyone else thinking "Kosovo?" Also, in 2004 there was the prospect of induction into the EU, and the European Omnipotence which Tassos said that would bring, and which he and others claimed would allow us to basically dictate our terms to Turkey. No such prospect arises now. Instead, we have Turkey's evaluation in 2009, for which a rejection of a proposed solution by us would be handing them a blank cheque.
Being unable to do a Tassos Annan special, Christofias will have to both negotiate seriously, and seek support. He will be unable to turn to DIKO or EDEK for support, as they will grab the opportunity to cry treason as soon as it's available, and try and capitalize on people's fears and sentiments as much as possible, like they did before. The only significant political force he will be able to turn to will be DISY and Anastasiades. And they will support him, unless they see an opportunity to screw him over like they did with Vassiliou and the Gali ideas in 1993 to get Clerides elected. But probably the timing will be wrong for a presidential election, so maybe he will indeed get their support.
In that case, the outcome of any referendum on the solution will be less of a foregone conclusion than it was in 2004. So the tactics used will be even more desperate. We will see scaremongering, mudslinging, witchhunting, smearing and namecalling to an unprecedented degree. Under those conditions, the outcome of the referendum will be a political disaster even worse than 2004, no matter what the actual result is. If the solution passes in that kind of environment, and does so with a percentage close to 50%, I shudder to think what could happen next.
My estimate though is that in that scenario the solution will probably get no more than a 40% vote in favour, and that's probably overestimating it. In which case, Turkey makes her 2009 EU evaluation completely unencumbered by the Cyprus issue, and the EU is free to expand, accelerate and continue its current process of functional induction of the north of Cyprus. It would also probably mean the end of the prospect of a negotiated solution, the end of bizonal bicommunal federation, and the end of all the other fairy tales and lullabies we have been hearing since 1974.
The EU will find a way to open the ports and airports in the north, which will see unprecedented economic and social growth. Being in close contact with the huge and rapidly developing Turkish market and economy, businesses will thrive. By 2013, the issue will not be the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots, but that of the Greek Cypriots. And by then there will be an increasing clamour for rights of movement, settlement and property - not by the Greek Cypriots wanting to return to the north, but by the 500,000 people who will by then be living in the North who will want to expand their activities to the South.
That will probably be the environment the next Presidential Elections will be held in. The person promising to stop the influx of Turks, even if we need to become the first country to withdraw from the European Union to do it, will win the elections. He will promise an alliance with Serbia, Orthodox Brotherhood against the World, and By The Grace Of God And The Power Of The Cross We Will Win. And his surname will be Papadopoulos.
My most ardent hope is that developments will eventually force me to eat my hat, and swallow my crystal ball whole, along with a good slice of humble pie. However, for that to happen, we need politicians with the abilities, vision and courage required. We need a people who are able to think and decide without being swayed by demagogues who exploit their fears and sentiments. And we need this on both sides of the Green Line. Unfortunately, the thought causes phrases including "month" and "Sunday" to spring to mind.