DOES THE failure to agree the wording of the joint declaration that would have paved way for the start of settlement negotiations mean that latest initiative is over? Or will it be suspended for six to 18 months, as had been the case on countless occasions in the past, in the futile belief that something would change and conditions would be more favourable?
At the moment, nobody seems willing to give up and the possibility of a breakthrough in the next few days or weeks has not been ruled out by anyone in the know. Could this be wishful thinking considering the UN team has been labouring to find a compromise for almost three months without success? It is difficult to see how a joint declaration would be agreed after everything that has happened in the last few days.
At the weekend it looked like there would be a compromise and President Anastasiades called a meeting of the party leaders at which he argued in favour of the text he expected to have been accepted by the Turkish Cypriot side. Not all the party leaders were persuaded, but it did not matter in the end as Dervis Eroglu had decided to play hard-ball, with the public support of Turkey’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, who visited the north on Saturday.
Anastasiades stuck to his guns in speeches he made on Sunday. He said that “our patience is wearing thin,” explaining once again that he could not engage in talks that would lead nowhere, but he left the door open. He called on the UN and the countries that wanted a solution to turn their attention to Turkey.
The truth is that there had been a flurry of diplomatic consultations, involving the UN and other countries, leading to the weekend, but these did not achieve the desired result. On his return to Ankara, Davutoglu, reportedly, was in contact with the UN Secretary General and his Greek counterpart, whom he met in Athens on Friday, but the purpose was not clear.
It appears nobody is yet prepared to give up on the effort, because the general feeling, for reasons that remain unclear, is that once negotiations start they would lead to an agreement. Only the Greek Cypriot parties have completely given up on the effort, and there are already calls for preparing a new strategy and B Plan. We have been hearing about the new strategy for decades without anyone – not even the late president Papadopoulos – ever telling us what this would be.
The only way to achieve a settlement is through negotiations. And if Turkey is as committed to finding a deal in three months, as its top officials had been publicly stating, it should not be backing Eroglu’s spoiling tactics.