Negotiating the Right of Return

Negotiating the right of return is a central issue in post-conflict societies aiming to resolve tensions between human rights issues and security concerns. Peace proposals often fail to carefully balance these tensions or to identify incentives and linkages that enable refugee return. To address this gap, the article puts forward an alternative arrangement in negotiating refugee rights currently being considered in the bilateral negotiations in Cyprus. Previous peace plans for the reunification of the island emphasized primarily Turkish Cypriot security and stipulated a maximum number of Greek Cypriot refugees eligible to return under future Turkish Cypriot administration. The authors’ alternative suggests a minimum threshold of Greek Cypriots refugees plus self-adjustable incentives for the Turkish Cypriot community to accept the rest. The article reviews different options including linking actual numbers of returnees with naturalizations for Turkish settlers or immigrants, Turkey’s EU-accession, and territorial re-adjustments across the federal border. In this proposed formula, the Greek Cypriot side would reserve concessions until refugee return takes place, while the Turkish Cypriot community would be demographically secure under all scenarios by means of re-adjustable naturalization and immigration quotas. Drawing parallels with comparable cases, the article emphasizes the importance of making reciprocity and linkages explicit in post-conflict societies.

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