By Loucas Charalambous
IT LOOKS like two people are going to have a hard time as a result of Mustafa Akinci’s election last Sunday – president Erdogan and president Anastasiades.
For our president the problem is obvious and he will miss Dervis Eroglu. It will be almost impossible for him to convincingly argue that the failure to reach a settlement was because of Akinci’s ‘intransigence’.
I thought the answer of a middle-aged Turkish Cypriot, who was asked how he viewed the Akinci victory by a CyBC television reporter, was very telling. “We shall leave you with no excuse,” he said. These few words, by a man on the street, perfectly sum up the gist of the election of the new Turkish Cypriot leader for the Greek Cypriots.
As regards Erdogan, the differences appear to be personal. The reason given for the fall-out by Greek Cypriots – one wants a Cyprus settlement while the other does not – do not seem to reflect reality. Erdogan has proved over the last 12 years that he wants an agreement and settlement of the Cyprus problem as a matter of urgency.
That Turkey might have certain positions that we consider ‘hardline’ such as the maintenance of the system of guarantees is another matter. But he has shown that he wants a deal, in contrast to our political fraudsters who have proved that what they are opposed to is not a ‘bad’ solution but any solution. This column has explained the reasons for this stance many times.
Of course Anastasiades now has a fantastic opportunity to clean much of the dirt and stains that have collected on his suit over the last two years, with the result that some, not without justification, have started comparing him to Christofias. It is not hard to imagine how much of this would be forgotten if he musters the courage to proceed with urgency to the drafting of an agreement with Akinci.
If he pulls it off, he would not be remembered as the president of the haircut, of the mischievous in-laws and of many other blunders he has committed during his term. He would be known as the ‘president of the solution’, to Christofias’ chagrin, and would be credited with all the benefits this would bring including the exit from the recession.
But for this to happen, Anastasiades must abandon his tactical manoeuvering, the slogans about ‘suffocating time-frames’ that he inherited from Tassos and Christofias, dissolve the numerous technical committee he set up in order to waste time, sideline his negotiator and his foreign minister Kasoulides who is impressed by the platitudes uttered by his Greek counterpart Kodzias (“if Turkey is in a hurry for a settlement it should hurry up its withdrawal from Cyprus”) and proceed as soon as possible to direct talks with Akinci.
If the Cyprus problem is to be solved, this can be achieved in 30 days. After 38 years of negotiations and talks nothing has been left to be said that has not already been said. Everything is known. If there is a will there is a solution. Without the will there will be no settlement even in the next 30 years.
There is a need for urgency. Turkish Cypriots have proved again that they are ready for a settlement They are more serious and politically mature than us, but I think they have not realised how big the risk is of the Greek Cypriots snubbing them as they had done in 2004.
The big question is whether Anastasiades would have the guts to make the decisive step that is needed or he would carry on having as his priority the political pandering to Lillikas, Papadopoulos, Perdikis, Sizopoulos and the rest of our political clowns.
If he plans to carry on with the pandering, he should start from now looking for ways to persuade everyone that Akinci is also intransigent. But he should also stop dreaming about another term and prepare to leave the presidency under an even darker cloud than covered Christofias’ exit in 2013.