By Stefanos Stefanou
“Find an agreement amongst yourselves (concerning the resumption of the negotiations) and then call on me.”
This was the statement made by the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advisor on the Cyprus problem Espen Barth Eide after his meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades. His statement can also be interpreted as the end of the international organisation’s efforts to resume the inter-communal talks.
There is no doubt whatsoever that the suspension of the negotiations was provoked by Turkey’s illegal actions against the Republic of Cyprus. Furthermore, there is no doubt that Turkey, through its provocations, is aiming to turn the issue of natural gas from a sovereign right of the Republic into a problem between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. The statement of Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was clear: “The Greek Cypriot side (the Republic of Cyprus) is attempting to monopolise the exploitation of the island’s natural resources.”
Quite rightly, therefore, the president and all political parties rejected the possibility of natural gas becoming an inter-communal problem. They also correctly agreed that negotiations could not take place while threats and blackmails were being issued.
Up to this point, there is unanimity. From then onwards, however, the disagreements begin. It’s always the same after the “we won’ts” end and it’s time to undertake initiatives by submitting concrete proposals.
Who does the stalemate and deadlock suit? It suits and favours all those seeking or those whose interests are served by the partition of Cyprus, Turkey first and foremost. For Cyprus, partition holds risks and the possibility of natural gas being transformed from a blessing into a curse. Consequently, the Greek Cypriot side cannot limit itself just to what it rejects. It must, or better still, should already have undertaken initiatives to create the preconditions for resuming negotiations. If, in the end, resuming talks are not attainable, at least no one would blame the Greek Cypriots.
In view of this critical situation, AKEL has urged President Anastasiades to formulate and submit proposals which decisively nullify Turkey’s allegations and, at the same time, to channel the international community’s initiatives in the correct direction.
AKEL has submitted to the president a package of concrete proposals for the fulfillment of two goals:
First, the need to strengthen and substantiate the Greek Cypriot side’s position that it is ready, following the solution of the Cyprus problem, to cooperate with the Turkish Cypriot community to manage the natural resources and share the revenues.
Second, we should underline our side’s readiness, following the solution of the Cyprus problem, to cooperate with Turkey in the field of energy and natural gas.
Unfortunately, President Anastasiades, instead being pro-active and giving the initiative to the Republic, has opted for inertia which harbours dangers. The president didn’t even dare highlight the very important convergences that had already been agreed by former President Demetris Christofias with Mehmet Ali Talat and Dervis Eroglu on the critical issues of the maritime zones, natural resources (including that of natural gas) and the distribution of the federal revenues (including the revenues from the natural gas).
At this very crucial juncture for the Cyprus problem, the president has displayed fear. Developments are worrying and the prospects menacing. The president is called upon, even at this stage, to assume his responsibilities and behave in the way he himself has often said he favours: to be useful, instead of popular – before it is too late.
Stefanos Stefanou is a member of AKEL’s political bureau and a former government spokesman