By Loucas Charalambous
IN THE HANDLING of the Cyprus problem President Anastasiades is turning out to be just another Christofias. He is using the exact same tactics – provocative filibustering and time wasting so that nothing will happen.
It is the tactic the late Tassos Papadopoulos had christened “leaving by staying”. We constantly place obstacles and raise objections; we set up, dissolve and set up again technical committees; we ignore the substance and deal with issues of secondary importance (confidence-building, Famagusta, church restorations, etc) and lead things nowhere. We waste time so we can stay on the presidential throne.
Within this framework of devious tactical manoeuvring, we also exploit other developments in order to achieve our aim. Anastasiades knew, from the day of his election, that the time available for the securing of a deal was restricted to a few months. He knew that in the spring of 2014 there would be local elections in Turkey and these would be followed by the elections in the north.
This was mentioned by this column a year ago. The column suggested that the procedure for a deal should have involved negotiating a limited number of changes to the 2004 Annan plan, so that risky chapters such as territory would not have to be re-opened.
We had also suggested that he withdrew Christofias’ foolish proposal for a government with a president, vice-president, rotating presidency and ‘weighted voting’ and backed the wise provision of the Annan plan for a six-member presidential council, that would have been presided over by a Greek Cypriot for 40 months and Turkish Cypriot for 20 months, without anyone having the ‘casting vote’. Even Nicholas Papadopoulos agreed with this.
What did Anastasiades do instead? He wasted the first six months of his presidency doing nothing on the grounds that the issues of the economy took precedence over the Cyprus problem. Yet at the same time, he kept telling us that a settlement would bring speedy development; talk about contradictory messages.
He then wasted another four months in order to agree a totally unnecessary ‘joint declaration’ of a page, because the elections for the leadership of DIKO had to be held. And when at last the talks began, he insisted that he should meet Dervis Eroglu once every two months. The Vice-President of the US had to come here for Anastasiades to agree to two meetings a month. If he really wanted settlement he would have a meeting with Eroglu every day.
Now he is engaging in new tactical manoeuvres. He withdrew half of Christofias’ proposal for rotating presidency, but did not withdraw the other half regarding the president, vice-president, council of ministers and ‘weighted voting’. And he wants the president to always be Greek Cypriot.
He is thinking just like Christofias now. He does not want a presidential council, but a president because he sees himself taking this position. He is asking for a Greek Cypriot president and Turkish Cypriot vice-president who would be elected by the Greek Cypriots. He thinks he can take everyone for a ride with these proposals.
But his tactical manoeuvring does not end here. Now Anastasiades is persistently demanding that Eroglu submits proposals on territory, which is doubly nonsensical. First Eroglu has elections to think about and only a complete fool would make a proposal that would lead to a few thousands voters being forcibly moved out of their houses and being re-located.
Second, from the moment the issue of territory is discussed again it is well nigh impossible that Morphou and the areas north of Yerolakkos would be returned as was stipulated in the Annan plan. The Turkish Cypriots of Morphou have already made it clear they would not vote again for a settlement if this envisaged their re-location.
This was why we had suggested not to re-open the chapter of territory but stay with the 2004 map. But Anastasiades would rather play with fire, because his objective is not a settlement, but the maintenance of the status quo which would allow him to carry on being the president of half of Cyprus.
And this goes some way in explaining the insane decision to establish a ‘national security council’ that will provide a job for Fotis Fotiou for his support of Anastasiades. On the one hand he tells us he is working for a settlement and on the other he is setting up a ‘national security council’ for half of Cyprus.
If we are going for a settlement, why would we need such a council?