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Our View: Little hope of consensus at planned EEZ meeting

PARTY chiefs gather at the presidential palace today to discuss the stand President Anastasiades should take in relation to Turkey’s continuing violation of the Cypriot EEZ and the pressure being applied for a resumption of the talks. The UN Secretary-General’s Special Advisor Espen Bath Eide will be back on Monday when he will be expected to try to end the deadlock by encouraging the two sides to make proposals for the resumption of the talks.

For Anastasiades this will be particularly difficult, given the stand he took immediately after the issue of Turkey’s Navtex. He said he would pull out of the talks if it were not rescinded, a stance that was fully endorsed by the Greek Cypriot party leadership. Since then, he has frequently stated that unless the Turkish ship Barbaros left the Cypriot EEZ he would not return to talks. Will it leave by next week when Eide will be having his contacts? If it does not, Anastasiades will have great difficulty agreeing to a resumption of talks after everything he has said in the last month.

This is why he has called today’s meeting. He will explain the government’s plan for the ‘de-escalation of the crisis’ which would involve returning to the talks at some stage. But it is very doubtful the leaders of the smaller parties would consent to this move, as they have been calling for a stepping up of the measures against Turkey and will probably urge the president to pursue the additional measures that were agreed at their last meeting.

Further complicating things, is the issue of the hydrocarbons, the government recognising that it would have to make some kind of gesture to the Turkish Cypriots. Government sources have been quoted as saying there was a thought of utilising the Christofias-Talat convergences on the sharing of the revenue from natural gas. While AKEL would be inclined to support this, the rest of the parties have made it clear they would not. DIKO has said “we will not accept the linking of Cyprus’ energy resources with the issue of the talks,” while the EDEK chief said this would constitute “an act of recognition of the pseudo-state.”

The president is deluding himself if he thinks there is even the slightest chance of securing consensus at today’s meeting, with regard to the resumption of talks and hydrocarbons. The only time there has been unanimity among the party leaders was when he decided to quit the talks and campaign against Turkey’s violations. For as long as the leaders of DIKO, EDEK and the Citizens’ Alliance have a say in the decision-making Anastasiades will not be able to take a positive step.

If he wants to pursue a settlement he should give up the idea that he can do this with the support of the hard-line parties. Unless it suits him to have Omirou, Papadopoulos and Lillikas calling the shots, as this would allow him to tell Eide next week that he would not return to the talks because the party leaders decided against him doing so.

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