Cyprus: the search for a solution

(I. B. Tauris: London and New York, 2005), pp. 256 incl. index. ISBN 13 978 1 85043 665 2

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Lord Hannay, a senior British diplomat with great experience of multilateral diplomacy, retired in 1995 but was then persuaded to accept the position of Britain’s Special Representative for Cyprus. In this role he played an influential part in the UN-led effort to broker a settlement to the Cyprus conflict until the negotiations temporarily foundered in May 2003, when, with a mixture of relief and regret, he stepped down. (There is a postscript on the referendums held on the island in 2004 on the fifth version of Kofi Annan’s settlement plan.) He has written a brilliant account of the course of these negotiations: lucid, economical, forceful, and authoritative; as for the organization of the book, this is a master class in how to blend analysis with narrative.

Hannay lays the main blame for the failure of the UN mediation up to May 2003 squarely at the door of the Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash, but also emphasises the contribution of generic and ‘Cyprus-specific problems’. This is all pulled together in Chapter 13: ‘What went wrong, and will it ever go right’. Hannay concludes that it will only ever go right if the Cypriots themselves take more responsibility for settlement negotiations and Turkey’s EU accession negotiations do not collapse. It is difficult to disagree with him.

This book is of great value to students of diplomacy as well as to those of the Cyprus problem. There are interesting passages on ‘linkage’ in these negotiations (pp. 99-110), the ‘single negotiating text’ (pp. 140-1), venue (p. 156), and telephone calls from the top as a last resort (p. 218). The usefulness (or otherwise) of deadlines in negotiations is an undercurrent throughout the book, as is the importance but great difficulty of ‘sequencing’ related negotiations, while the limitations of a mediation when the time is not ripe – but when this cannot be determined until the effort is made – is perhaps the major lesson. This is one of the best books I have read by a diplomatic practitioner for a long time.

2017-02-15T19:27:08+00:00 September 25th, 2008|Tags: |