WE HAVE to agree with the verdict of the opposition parties about President Anastasiades’ speech to the legislature on the Cyprus talks. It was true that, as the DIKO spokeswoman said, “we heard nothing new” and, as the EDEK spokesman said, “we are none the wiser today.” Then again, the speech was not given solely for the benefit of deputies, who are briefed by their party leaders sitting on the National Council about the talks, but also for the people who are rarely briefed directly about the talks.
Leaving aside the formulas for resolving the property issue, the evolution of the Cyprus Republic and the composition of the federal senate, the most important part of Anastasiades’ speech, conveniently ignored by the opposition parties, were a series of questions he asked everyone who opposed the talks, starting with the following: “Is there another option other than continuing and intensifying the effort, so that we rid ourselves the soonest from occupation and re-unite our country?”
He then asked: “Is there another way of recovering territory and having property returned? Is there another option for stopping the influx of settlers? Is there another path for preventing the transformation of the occupied part into a Turkish province? Is there another method of securing human rights and the four freedoms with full implementation of the European acquis in the whole country? Is there another method of saving our cultural and religious heritage?”
These are pertinent questions, to which the answer is ‘no’. Opposition parties can go on about a “new strategy”, which they have never defined even in the vaguest terms, or a “plan B”, which is nothing more than an empty slogan, for as long as they like, but the truth is that there is no other way, method or option. We did not hear any of them responding affirmatively to Anastasiades’ questions, despite constantly demanding a “new strategy”.
With his questions, the president exposed the political bankruptcy and abject negativity of the opposition leaders, whose simplistic “all or nothing” approach to a settlement is an iron-clad guarantee of getting nothing. Most people, probably, already know that a settlement is the only way of salvaging something and making the country whole again. They have heard enough false promises and vacuous rhetoric over the decades to not believe them any longer.
Anastasiades may have said nothing new in his speech, but he reinforced the view that without a settlement not only will we get nothing, but we would also have a border with Turkey and big security fears as a consequence.