The Cyprus problem: Two and a half years of stalemate
Article by Stefanos Stefanou – AKEL Political Bureau member
Sunday, 1st March 2020, ‘HARAVGI’ newspaper
If anything does characterize the period since Anastasiades’ re-election as President of the Republic, it is the prolonged stalemate on the Cyprus problem, which is accompanied by dangerous and negative developments that hinder the efforts to reach a solution. The stalemate and absence of negotiations have as their starting point the failure of the Conference on Cyprus at Crans Montana, approximately seven months before the 2018 presidential election.
Nikos Anastasiades, with the aim of serving the goal of his re-election, formulated the narrative that the Conference was led to a collapse due solely to Turkey’s intransigence. Building on this version of events, Nikos Anastasiades – as he did during the 2013 presidential elections – once again played the game of declaring what he is not going to accept and not what he is actually going to do about breaching the deadlock on the Cyprus problem. The agreed basis providing for a solution of the Cyprus problem based on bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with political equality, as outlined in the relevant UN resolutions, disappeared from Anastasiades’ rhetoric on the Cyprus problem. He once again begun to demonize the convergences that were recorded in the negotiations.
This tactic clearly sought to keep the prospect open of attracting voters from the so-called ‘intermediate’ spectrum in the second round of the presidential elections. Furthermore, the President began flirting with confederation or a two-state solution, as well as projecting it in discussions with foreign figures, but also within the internal front.
Anastasiades’ tactic was exploited by Turkey, which all through this period is trying to expose the Greek Cypriot side, calling on it to clarify what solution it is seeking. This policy pursued by Mr. Anastasiades had extremely negative consequences for the Greek Cypriot side. Turkey, which emerged from Crans Montana without any responsibilities being assigned on it and which had received international praise for its stance at the Conference, is completely reckless, culminating in its provocative and illegal activities in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Republic of Cyprus and its illegal machinations in Famagusta. Because of Mr. Anastasiades’ contradictory and inconsistent positions, his credibility among the international community has plummeted.
After his election, Mr. Anastasiades continued on the course he had charted after the failure at Crans Montana. Though verbally declaring that he was ready to resume negotiations from the point where they had remained – as the UN Secretary General was urging – with the positions he was expressing Mr. Anastasiades was undermining and annulling this very prospect. The “bright” ideas put forth by N. Anastasiades contradicted his statements for a resumption of the negotiations from the point they had remained, given that these “ideas” annulled the convergences agreed and were outside the Framework submitted by Mr. Guterres, on the basis of which the Secretary General wants to continue the negotiations. As many times as N. Anastasiades addressed the UN Secretary General to convey his readiness for a resumption of the negotiations, so did he receive a negative answer from Mr. Guterres, who was stating he hasn’t been convinced by the willingness of the two sides to undertake a new initiative to continue the negotiations.
On the domestic front, Mr. Anastasiades and the government ruling forces were undermining the prospect of a solution in society’s consciousness. At the same time, they launched a campaign to foster illusions on what the Greek Cypriot side and the Republic of Cyprus must and can do. The natural gas and trilateral meetings with states in the region were intensely exploited for propaganda purposes – with the generous assistance of the overwhelming majority of the mass media –as representing an alternative course that will shield the Cypriot EEZ, isolate Turkey and compel it to agree to a solution. The references about the imposition of such EU sanctions against Turkey and reports of EU sanctions on Turkey that would hurt it – as the Presidency was leaking to the mass media – were also part and parcel of the government ruling force’s narrative.
The government ruling forces may have the tools to fabricate news and shape consciousness, but the realities cannot be concealed forever. At some point they come to light for what they really are. Developments themselves have completely shattered the narratives and dispelled the illusions that were being cultivated by the government ruling forces.
In the face of dangerous developments and the bankruptcy of Anastasiades’ policy on the Cyprus problem, there is only one way forward. The President of the Republic must return to the position for a continuation of the negotiations from where they had left off, as the UN Secretary General demands, without setting terms and preconditions.
Following the vote in the occupied areas as to who will assume the leadership of the Turkish Cypriot community, it is expected that Mr. Guterres will proceed to convene an informal conference. The President must respond. If the negotiations do eventually resume, Mr. Anastasiades will have to exhaust every available avenue to achieve a solution. If Turkey cooperates, then the goal of the solution will be achieved. If not, the occupying power Turkey should at least be exposed and not the Greek Cypriot side as was the case at Crans Montana.
Intervention of Georgos Koukoumas, member of the C.C. of AKEL and the International Relations Department, at the Hearing “Palestine: What’s Next?” organized by GUE/NGL2015-07-1
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