By Elias Hazou
JUST A day before the UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser is due here in a improbable bid to put stalled peace talks back on track, yesterday’s meeting between President Nicos Anastasiades and the leaders of the political parties to discuss the latest on the Cyprus problem proved rather inconsequential.
According to a written statement put out by the government spokesman, the president and the party leaders discussed the latest developments on Cyprus “in a constructive climate”, with Anastasiades answering a number of questions.
Discussions will continue during a session spanning several days that will be held in February, the brief statement added.
By the actors’ own admission, the meeting achieved nothing in particular. Speaking to reporters later, AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou said that no decisions whatsoever were taken, nor did they discuss what the Greek Cypriot side would tell Espen Barth Eide, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser, when he arrives on the island on Tuesday.
“The president merely explained to the parties his statement of last week, and essentially the political parties reiterated their positions,” Kyprianou said.
He was referring to the president’s statement last Monday where Anastasiades – in an apparent concession to the Turkish side – said he was willing to discuss any pending issues at the tail end of peace talks. This was understood to include the issue of hydrocarbons, which up until recently Nicosia said it would not discuss prior to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.
Anastasiades pulled out of UN-led peace talks following a NAVTEX, or marine advisory, issued by Turkey in October last year, followed by the despatching of a Turkish seismic research vessel into the Republic’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Repeated calls for the withdrawal of the ship went unheeded by Ankara, which last week announced new seismic surveys.
Kyprianou said that during Monday’s meeting he called on the president to undertake initiatives aimed at restarting negotiations as soon as possible. The current situation, he said, posed dangers both with regard to the Republic’s ability to exploit its natural resources as well as the prospect for bringing about a definitive partition.
For his part DIKO boss Nicolas Papadopoulos criticised the government for yielding on the hydrocarbons standoff, adding that neither Turkey nor the international community has acknowledged the concession.
George Perdikis, leader of the Green party, was more explicit about the meeting, calling it unsubstantial and a “waste of time”.
Nothing of consequence was discussed, nor was any assessment made of what proposals the UN’s Eide might be bringing to Cyprus, Perdikis said.
He too censured the administration for taking no steps to impose sanctions on Turkey, such as freezing EU accession chapters.
“This proves that there’s a lot of talk but very little action,” he commented.
In fact it seems Anastasiades used the gathering at the presidential palace to hand to the party leaders a document outlining his earlier proposal for forming a government of ‘broad acceptance.”
The parties agreed to study the document and give the president their feedback.
Eide meanwhile is due to meet with Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu on Tuesday afternoon, and then with Anastasiades on Wednesday.
The Norwegian diplomat will be in Cyprus for two days. The purpose of the visit is to ascertain directly from the leaders their views on the current impasse in the talks and prospects for its resolution. Eide also plans to use the trip to prepare his briefing to the Security Council, scheduled for January 26.
Barring a surprise move by either side, the talks are likely set to stay deadlocked until at least April. The Turkish NAVTEX expires on April 6, and in the same month the north will be holding ‘presidential elections’.