FOLLOWING Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci’s insistence, for the second day, that Anastasiades was the one who left the negotiating table first, the president on Friday announced he would no longer engage in the ongoing blame-game.
Referring to UN special advisor Espen Barth Eide’s comments on Thursday evening, in which he said that it was Akinci who left the negotiation earlier, the Turkish Cypriot leader said the Norwegian diplomat had offered “half the reality, but not the other half”.
“I explained the whole reality,” he said.
“I said that I left the meeting, and I also said that good manners had been missing from the meeting.”
Akinci’s grievance was that, after the two sides spoke regarding the issue of the Cypriot parliament’s decision to introduce an annual commemoration of the 1950 referendum on the island’s union with Greece in public secondary schools, “the Greek Cypriot leader yelled over Mr Eide, saying ‘I have nothing further to say’, and slammed the door behind him as he left the room”.
“And this while the meeting was going on,” Akinci said.
“When the Greek Cypriot leader left the meeting this way, nothing could be done.”
According to Akinci, Anastasiades’ claim that he left the room after a break was agreed was inaccurate.
“So far, whenever the Greek Cypriot leader wanted to smoke, he’d show us his pack and we’d take a break, but this was not what happened yesterday,” Akinci said.
Anastasiades, the Turkish Cypriot leader said, conceded “behind closed doors” that the commemoration decision was wrong, and “should also say so to his community”.
“This can be fixed,” he said, referring to parliament’s decision.
“Let it be fixed and we hope that the meetings will become more constructive. We said as much to Mr Eide, and then he met with Mr Anastasiades and announced that next Thursday’s meeting can take place, as if nothing happened.”
What the Turkish Cypriot side is expecting, he added, is for this climate of trust to be restored.
“How can we continue under these circumstances?”
In a statement of response, Anastasiades called on Akinci to come to the next scheduled meeting on Thursday, and said he would not engage in the blame-game.
“I have no desire whatsoever to engage in an unnecessary blame-game, particularly after the UN special advisor publicly described what happened [on Thursday],” Anastasiades said.
“At the same time, I want to repeat to the Turkish Cypriot community that I stand ready to continue the ongoing dialogue for a solution.”
If the Turkish Cypriot side shares this determination, Anastasiades added, “I call on the Turkish Cypriot leader to be present at the next scheduled meeting, so that, through constructive dialogue, the conditions that will allow us to hope for a positive outcome can be created”.
Meanwhile, following Thursday’s crisis, main opposition leader Andros Kyprianou undertook an emergency mission in the north to help salvage the talks, meeting with Republican Turkish Party leader Tufan Erhurman, Communal Democracy Party leader Cemal Ozygit, former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, and associates of Akinci.
Thursday’s row between the two leaders also got the attention of Turkish Foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
From Cologne, where he met with the Union of European Turkish Democrats, Cavusoglu likened the behaviour of the Turkish main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) with the Greek Cypriots’ stance in the talks.
“They leave the table every time, just like the Greek Cypriot side,” Cavusoglu said.
“Every other time they say, like Anastasiades, ‘I am angry now’, fold the table and go. Now they have left the table again. On the one hand they say ‘Turkey’s guarantees are not needed’, and on the other they pass a bill on the union of Cyprus with Greece.”
We will not stand for these ploys, Cavusoglu added.
“So far, we have stood close to the Turkish Cypriot people and we will stand close to them until the end,” he said.