By Stefanos Evripidou
PRESIDENT Nicos Anastasiades and DIKO leader Nicolas Papadopoulos yesterday exchanged blows over the president’s handling of the Cyprus problem.
Anastasiades hit back at Papadopoulos after he accused him of failure in the peace talks, saying it was “sad” that the young DIKO leader was driven by “unexplainable obsessions” instead of a high sense of duty towards his country.
Earlier in the day, Papadopoulos argued that the president’s strategy on the Cyprus problem had clearly failed, as expected.
According to Papadopoulos, it was clear from the start that with the joint declaration agreed between Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu on February 11, “the Turkish side achieved most of its long-standing aspirations before the negotiations had even started”.
This only enhanced the intransigent positions of the Turkish side, he said, referring to Turkey’s research vessel Barbaros carrying out seismic studies in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone and the visits of Turkish Cypriot negotiator Kudret Ozersay and ‘foreign minister’ Ozdil Nami to capitals around the world, carrying out a mud-slinging campaign to blame the Greek Cypriot side for the talks’ failure.
Despite the “generous concessions” of the Greek Cypriot side at the negotiating table, the Turkish side refuses to table proposals or discuss the core issues of primary concern to the Greek Cypriots, like security, the withdrawal of Turkish troops, return of refugees, departure of settlers, property and territory, said Papadopoulos.
Anastasiades now has two choices, either to move to a “dangerous” give-and-take phase with the Turkish side getting most of what it wanted, or wait until the talks’ process reaches deadlock and hope the Greek Cypriots don’t get blamed for it, said the DIKO leader.
He added that the collective formulation of a new strategy at the next National Council meeting was urgently required to free the Greek Cypriot side from the “Anastasiades-Eroglu agreement”.
DIKO will table in detail the party’s views and proposals at the next National Council meeting on July 7, he said.
Wasting no time to respond, Anastasiades released a statement saying it was “sad” that, in order to justify his political choices, Papadopoulos insists on “wilful misinterpretation, but worst of all, on groundless claims that not even the Turkish side dares to raise with regards the joint declaration”.
“Contrary to what the DIKO president says, the joint declaration set a clear framework for negotiation which no one can escape,” said the president.
Anastasiades noted that in 40 years, a solution to the Cyprus problem has not been reached, “not because of the Greek Cypriot side, but because the Turkish side remains rigid on intransigent positions”.
If things were otherwise, then previous presidents, including his father Tassos Papadopoulos, would have followed the course he proposes and the problem would have finally been solved.
“It is sad that a young politician, instead of being guided by a high sense of responsibility towards his country, is driven by unexplainable obsessions that leave him exposed.
“I look forward to paying careful attention at the next sessions of the National Council to the specific and documented proposals of those who suggest that a new strategy on the Cyprus problem is imperative,” said the president.
Not to be outdone, DIKO deputy spokesman Athos Antoniades had the last word, responding that Anastasiades was following in the footsteps of his predecessor Demetris Christofias, in that he does not tolerate criticism and does not respond with arguments, but resorts to characterisations and derogatory statements.