The next move in renewed efforts to solve the Cyprus crisis, which has soured U.S. relations with both Greece and Turkey and weakened the southeast flank of NATO, is up to the Greek Cypriots, Turkish officials said today.
"Archbishop Makarios must say which parts of the island he needs and why the Turks should give them up," said a senior Turkish Foreign Ministry official.
Makarios, president of Cyprus and leader of the island's Greek Cypriot community, is to meet again with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash on Feb. 12 under the auspices of U.N. Secretary General Kurt Waldheim.
Prospects for a settlement of the Cyprus crisis appear better than they have in months, following a meeting Jan. 27 between Denktash and Makarios, their first in 13 years.
While many observers tied Turkey's apparent sudden willingness to work toward a settlement to the change of administration in Washington, Turkish officials deny that Danktash's initative in calling the meeting was a move to ingratiate Turkey with the Carter administration.
Nor, according to Turkish officials, was the withdrawal of 1,000 Turkish troops from Cyprus last month aimed at currying favor with the U.S. Congress. Turkey has been trying to get American legislators to lift the ban on sales on U.S. arms and provision of military aid to Turkey that was imposed following the 1974 invasion of Cyprus.
Nonetheless, Western officials said, both Turkish moves undoubtedly fit in with efforts to improve relations with Washington.
Despite opposition from powerful political factions and the fact that Cyprus is a highly emotional issue in Turkey, there is growing desire to finally settle the Cyprus conflict, which has dragged on for 12 years and seriously damaged Turkey's relations with Greece, the United States and European Common Market.
There is also the wish to be rid of the financial burden of maintaining a large garrison on Cyprus, which is bleeding Turkey's already weak economy.
But officials warn that negotiations are likely to be slow and difficult, particularly since this is election year in Turkey and the government cannot afford to make too many concessions that could be used against them by the opposition Republican Peoples' Party, whose leader, Bulent Ecevit, ordered the invasion of Cyprus.
A major issue in the Cyprus dispute has been how much of the Turkish-occupied territory the Turks are willing to relinquish.
Makarios proposed at the Jan. 27 meeting that "territory should be distributed according to population ratios" - about 80 per cent Greek and 20 per cent Turkish.
Western diplomats said they believed Makarios could not possible accept an offer that left the Turks with more than 30 per cent. Turkey now occupies about 38 per cent of Cyprus.
Informed Turkish government sources said they believed Denktash would settle for something around 30 per cent.
They said the Turks were likely to relinquish the former Greek Cypriot sector of the east coast port of Famagusta, which so far they have refrained from resettling with Turkish Cypriots who fled Greek Cypriot-controlled areas of the island during the 1974 fighting.
But Necemettin Erbakan, leader of the National Salvation Party, said this week that his party, the second largest in Turkey's ruling four-party coalition, would block any territorial concessions to the Greeks.
"The NSP is the guarantee that there will be no concessions on territory we gained with the blood of our martyrs," he told reporters.
Officials said it was hoped that at their Feb. 12 meeting Makarios and Denktash could work out "guidelines for serious negotiations."
They said they were encouraged by the initial meeting and Makarios' apparent acceptance of a bi-zonal federal system on Cyprus, with the two communities - the Greeks in the south and the Turks in the north - running their own affairs with a equally representative central government handling national affairs, as the Turks have demanded all along.