SUNDAY’S public attack on the UN secretary-general’s envoy Espen Barth Eide suggests that President Nicos Anastasiades is now determined to wreck the peace process, having decided that this will best serve his bid for re-election, which now dominates all his actions. Engaging constructively in the talks is no longer on his agenda, which explains why he is now openly firing salvoes at Eide, accusing him of adopting the positions of the Turkish side and not dealing with the threats voiced by Ankara.
This deflects attention away from the talks. He also charged Eide with wanting to impose a time-frame and engage in arbitration, the latter accusation a calculated attempt to mislead. Eide has repeatedly said the UN had no intention of engaging in arbitration, but there had been talk about making bridging proposals on issues in which differences remained. Neither side is obliged to accept these, which makes them very different from arbitration. Anastasiades chose to mislead on this issue because his objective is to poison the climate and thus justify to the public his decision to quit the talks.
His attack on Eide is part of this plan. He knows that the letter he said he will send to the UN secretary-general will not be taken very seriously and that Antonio Guterres will maintain confidence in his special advisor. The letter is for Greek Cypriot public opinion – that is why he revealed his plan to send it – and not for Guterres who knows the reasons for the lack of progress as he was briefed last week by Eide. There is not a chance in a million he will undermine his envoy by paying heed to Anastasiades’ complaints which are so obviously part of the blame-game.
Anastasiades’ real gripe is the end of June time-frame set for the talks. Had he been able to persuade the Turkish side and the UN that the talks could drag on until the end of the year he would not be attacking Eide now because it would have suited his plans. He would go to the elections promising to work for a settlement if he was given a second term, but because he did not get his way he has decided to wreck the peace process by attacking Eide.
There has not been any special advisor that has not been publicly disparaged by the Cyprus government for allegedly supporting the Turkish positions at the talks. This being so, why do we insist on having settlement talks within a UN framework? Why do we agree to the UNSG putting the talks under a special advisor, when we know this person always embraces the Turkish side’s positions and wants to impose an unfair settlement? If all the UN’s envoys have proved so biased why do we keep agreeing to them taking charge of the process?