By Elias Hazou
REACTION yesterday to the President’s analysis of the joint communiqué was a mixed bag of jeers and applause.
However in Archbishop Chrysostomos, the President seemed to gain an unlikely ally following a meeting of the two at the Palace.
Coming out of the one-hour meet, the top cleric publicly lent his backing to Anastasiades.
“The joint statement is neither the end-all and be-all, nor is it the end of the [Cyprus] problem,” the Prelate told reporters.
Rather, he added, the joint declaration constitutes a general framework for the coming talks, and at the end of the day what counts is the outcome of the actual negotiations.
The head of the Church was lending his support to the President, who has taken flak from coalition partners DIKO and smaller opposition parties over the content of the joint declaration, which they find problematic.
Chrysostomos said that he, too, was initially troubled by certain references in the declaration, but added that his concerns have been allayed since consulting constitutional experts.
The Prelate went a step further, urging the public – even dissenters – not to get caught up in arguing over the wording of a document.
Torpedoing the negotiations before they began would be pointless, said the top cleric.
Instead, attention should be focused on the negotiations, so that “nothing negative slips” into the solution presented to the people in a referendum.
Chrysostomos called on people, whatever their objections may be, to get behind the President and his negotiating team.
During the meeting with the President, the Archbishop proposed launching a public awareness campaign to inform the public about what a federal solution will be.
“It will be a sort of partnership…and we shall no longer be on our own. We shall have to sacrifice something, and the Turks as well,” he said.
Though Chrysostomos’ soft posture was surprising to some given his prior hawkish beliefs on the Cyprus issue, Anastasiades nonetheless will appreciate any support he can get.
Even AKEL, which has been the least critical of the joint communiqué – the topic du jour – said yesterday that its support should not be taken for granted.
“Our support for the President is not a blank cheque,” AKEL MP Giorgos Loukaides cautioned.
Despite being in the President’s corner on resuming reunification talks, Loukaides did fault Anastasiades for glossing over some of the references in the joint communiqué.
He cited for instance the President’s contention on Wednesday evening that ending of the status quo – a reference included in the declaration – implicitly relates to the withdrawal of Turkish troops from the island.
However, this was merely an assumption on the President’s part, Loukaides said.
But AKEL’s critique was soft compared to the other opposition parties. DIKO, the junior coalition partners in the Anastasiades administration, maintained their onslaught against the joint declaration.
DIKO leader Nicolas Papadopoulos accused the President of trying to sugar-coat the communiqué.
He pointed out that nowhere does the document cite the Republic of Cyprus. Moreoever, according to Papadopoulos, the communiqué’s wording raises concern that upon the establishment of a federal state the Republic as we know it would be dissolved and spawn two separate and sovereign constituent states.
Papadopoulos is gearing to pry his party away from the ruling coalition. Reports say will be bringing such a proposal to DIKO’s top-decision-making body, set to convene early next week.
The usual band of dissidents – EDEK, the Greens and the Citizens Alliance – meanwhile levelled similar indictments against the President and the joint declaration, all agreeing that the document’s wording is vague and that this can only mean something negative for the Greek Cypriot side.