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Our View: Anastasiades breaks free from naysayers

Cyprus' President Nicos Anastasiades arrives at a European Union leaders summit at the EU council headquarters in Brussels December 20, 2013.

The futility of President Anastasiades’ hope to forge a united home front on the Cyprus problem was exposed during Wednesday morning’s meeting with the party leaders.

At the meeting, the president had presented his proposal for a joint declaration which featured one change to the document submitted by the UN the previous week. Also present were the members of the negotiator’s support team, all of whom gave their backing to the president’s proposal.

Predictably, the leaders of the hard-line parties – Diko, Edek, Euroko and Greens – expressed strong opposition to the proposal, arguing that the Greek Cypriot side was giving up too much in order to secure agreement. Calls for a disengagement from the talks and the preparation of a Plan B, first voiced at the Saturday meeting, were repeated, without any of the naysayers elaborating. However Anastasiades stuck to his guns, forcibly arguing there was no alternative to negotiations and giving up his hopes of achieving a united front with the rejectionists.

This decision was underlined in a telephone conversation he had that afternoon with the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, whom he informed that he would be presenting a new proposal for a joint declaration, despite the objections of the National Council. It was high time Anastasiades gave up the idea of consensus and a united front with parties that have been consistently opposed to a settlement.

Did he really think there was even a chance in a million that he would secure the support of the professional rejectionists of Diko and Edek? Probably not, but he believed that he should have given it a shot.

He did and now he is free to take his own decisions without considerations to keeping Papadopoulos, Perdikis and Omirou happy. They can continue to demand a Plan B and utter the tired rhetoric about “placing the Cyprus problem on its correct basis as an issue of invasion and occupation.” But what Plan B is, nobody has ever said, because even they do not know. It sounds good, as it creates the impression that we have an alternative to negotiations, when in fact it is support for partition. If only the hard-liners had the honesty to say so openly, we may even have a constructive public debate.

Anastasiades has done the right thing in ignoring the hard-liners and pressing ahead without them. At last he is showing qualities of strong and decisive leadership, which is necessary if there is to be any hope of solving the Cyprus problem. The Turkish side might still refuse to play ball, but the president has shown that he means business.

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