IN THE END, Sunday’s eagerly anticipated dinner between President Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci, despite lasting four hours, failed to produce a date for the resumption of the talks. The only tangible thing it produced was the standard, bland announcement by the UN informing us that the two leaders “had an open and constructive exchange about the challenges experienced over the last months.” In addition to this, “they exchanged ideas about the way ahead.”
The truth is that many people are now wondering if there is a way ahead considering that after four hours of talks the leaders had failed to agree on a date for the resumption of the talks. The good news, according to the UN, was that Special Advisor Espen Barth Eide “will be continuing his interaction with them in order to lay the groundwork for the resumption of negotiations as soon as possible.” Four hours of talking was not enough groundwork and more will have to be done, for the talks to start as soon as possible.
Perhaps the two leaders had spent most of the four hours discussing the content of the UN statement, a revised version of which was issued three hours after the first by the UN adding the line that the two leaders “reconfirmed their joint commitment to finding a solution in the best interest of all Cypriots….” It was an omission from the first statement that could have led people to think that the “commitment” no longer existed, if they did not already think it.
If the commitment remains and there are plans for the resumption of the talks as soon as possible, why did the two not agree on a date? It is obvious that Akinci wanted the Disy law proposal to annul the Enosis referendum amendment, to be passed by the legislature first. Why did they not agree on a resumption of talks after Friday, the day on which the House vote was set to take place?
One explanation, shared by most rejectionist parties, was that Akinici was buying time until the Disy bill was passed and the Turkish referendum was held. Another possible explanation was that Akinci did not trust our side to pass the bill if he had agreed to a date in advance. Perhaps Anastasiades also objected to the setting of a date, for his own reasons. Whatever the explanation, it has become abundantly clear that the momentum of the talks has been lost and the good rapport the two leaders enjoyed no longer exists, while their commitment to a solution, which even the UN forgot to mention in the first announcement, is questionable.