Cyprus President Spyros Kyrianou said in an interview here yesterday that Greek-Cypriot objections to recent Turkish proposals to settle the long and bitter dispute over this divided island are so basic that "there is no room for bargaining or negotiating."
"It is not a question of details," the Greek-Cypriot leader said. "It is the whole philosophy."
The president made his remarks at a time when U.N. Secretary General Kurt Waldheim is pondering whether to recommend that the Turkish proposals, submitted to him earlier this month, become the basis for renewed talks between the Greek and Turkish communities here.
Kyprianou said his government would wait until Waldheim decides before considering what to do next. But he made it clear that it would be "not wise to have new talks now . . . and would be misleading to give the world the impression of saying negotiations are underway because nothing would be happening."
Across the barbed-wire border that for almost four years has marked off roughly 40 percent of the country occupied by the Turkish army Turkish-Cypriot leaders are just as adamant about never yielding on the key political questions at issue.
Thus, while the world's attention has once more been focused on this relatively small but consistent by troublesome island, there does not seem to be a glimmer of hope that a solution can be found soon.
The Cyprus dispute, for years, has driven a wedge between the two allies on the southern flank of NATO. In an attempt to strengthen that flank and repair some of the damage, the Carter administration has asked Congress to lift the arms embargo it imposed against Turkey three years ago after the Turks invaded Cyprus. That invasion was sparked by a Greek-supported attempt to overthrow the former Cyprus ruler, Archbishop Makarios.
It is also hoped in the White House that lifting the embargo will make Turkish Premier Bulent Ecevit more forthcoming in proposals to yield some of the territory his forces now hold and eventually withdraw those forces as U.N. resolutions on Cyprus require.
Soon after the White House action, Ecevit did submit proposals, but aside from being rejected here they are also viewed generally among Western diplomats as "less than generous."
The Greeks are convinced that the Turkish proposals were advanced solely to create the impression in Congress that Turkey was making concessions on Cyprus. That view is shared by many Western diplomats in the region.
Yet, it is also felt by many of these same diplomats that Turkish proposals are so obviously thin on substance that they could wind up hurting chances for the embargo being lifted in Congress unless more is forthcoming from Ankara.
The Turkish-Cypriots account for about 18 percent of the population here, yet the Turkish army now controls about 38 percent of the land. The proposals would yield perhaps another 1 percent plus some other land in the roughly mile-wide no-man's land that runs across 121 miles of this island.That buffer zone, technically, is under U.N. control and is not for the Turks to negotiate.
The second key issue, however, involves a Turkish demand for what amounts to absolute political equality and autonomy for the Turkish-Cypriot minority.
"We are working at cross-purposes," Kyprianou said yesterday. "We have made the concession of accepting the idea of a truly federated state" in which the federal government has important powers. Technically, he said, "we would be entitled to refuse negotiations right from the beginning until all foreign troops are withdrawn as the U.N. resolutions call for.
"But they [the Turkish-Cypriot leaders] are thinking in terms of two separate states . . . of partition . . . where the central government is a ghost government. The very concept is objectionable to us so there is no point in negotiating. The Turkish proposals amount to legalizing the results of the invasion. It is something we shall never accept."
On the Turkish-Cypriot side, spokesman Husrev Suleyman talked of years of oppression of the Turkish-Cypriot minority by the Greek majority, of massacres and the disappearances of people and property.
"We are trying to promote integration," he says, "but we know who killed whom.
"The U.N. resolution is not relevant," he says, "because it was made in our absence," a reference to the lack of a Turkish-Cypriot voice at the U.N. Suleyman said the proposals for political equality do not mean "we should have 50 percent of the land. But political domination is ruled out. We cannot leave things at their mercy. Political equality is a must between the two federated states. There is absolutely no give on that."
Suleyman said the area known as Varosha, the once-Greek part of the coastal resort of Famagusta, "will never be under total Greek-Cypriot control again." But he claimed that if the Greeks come to the conference table in the spirit of a previous meeting in February, 1977, between the late President Makarios and Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, "they will find us more than accommodating."
The Greeks and Turks, not surprisingly, disagree about what the spirit of that meeting was.
The fate of Varosha is also a very touchy point because it contains the most valuable hotel strip on this lovely island, and is now decaying in disuse.
Kyprianou says, "I do not see any immediate prospects for a fair settlement unless Turkey should radically change its policy."
Still, he believes Turkey can be pressured, mostly by the United States, to change its way and says he retains some optimism over the long run.
"Time is important, no doubt," he says, "but, substance is more important." Even though there is no sign of yielding, he says, "the time will come when we will succeed. What is the alternative, to legalize the crime?"
Kyprianou believes world public opinion is on the Greek side and he warns, "Those that tend to forget the Cyprus problem will be making a big mistake because if it is not solved properly it will erupt again like a cannon sooner or later. It should not be dismissed as a small country, unimportant, with people saying "Let's cut it in two and forget about it."
The new global focus on this island was also apparent yesterday when Kyprianou called in the Soviet ambassador here to issue a strong protest against reported remarks in Turkey by the visiting Soviet chief of staff. He reportedly called for improved cooperation between the Soviet Union and Turkey, including military cooperation.