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Our View: Settlement talks, and the support of the small parties, are mutually exclusive

The National Council; a waste of time?

THE TWO-DAY National Council meeting that would have supposedly carved out a national strategy for the Cyprus problem, as was widely expected, ended in dismal failure. How could the party leaders have agreed on a single strategy when they do not have the same objective? Could there be an agreed strategy for achieving a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation when half the parties oppose this and want a different type of settlement?

So why does President Anastasiades persist with the farcical National Council meetings that never achieve anything other than to emphasise the big differences of the parties? The leaders of DIKO, EDEK, Citizens Alliance, EUROKO and Greens are, in principle, opposed to the current peace negotiations and they are against the federal system of government, which both sides agreed to more than 30 years ago. They want a new strategy adopted by the president, but none of them ever say what this should involve or its prospects of being successful.

All they offer is the usual mishmash of negativity – about the failure of the talks to achieve a result – and wishful thinking – that their nebulous strategy, by incurring a big cost to Turkey for the occupation, would force her to give up on a federation and agree to fair and just settlement that would satisfy Papadopoulos, Omirou, Perdikis and Lillikas. This idea sounds more like a fairytale than a credible political/diplomatic strategy.

For 40 years, the Cyprus government has been trying to raise the cost for Turkey of the continuing occupation – at the UN, the Council of Europe, the EU, the European Court of Human Rights, through campaigns, defence dogmas, alliances etc – and has failed. We have used the plight of the refugees and relatives of the missing, the violations of human rights and international law, as well as the illegality of the ‘TRNC’, backed by countless so-called enlightenment campaigns, but to no avail. What strategy, outside the realm of fantasy, has there been left for the government to follow?

However, there was one useful outcome from the two-day National Council meeting. It showed Anastasiades that he cannot sincerely pursue a settlement and have the support of the small parties as the two are mutually exclusive. If he is genuinely committed to the talks, which are set to resume sometime in April or May, he should be prepared to go it alone – forget the National Council and ignore the opposition parties to which he is not accountable. All he could hope for is the support of DISY and, to an extent, AKEL.

If, however, he does not have the political will or courage to work for a settlement when talks resume, he would continue to call meetings of the National Council.

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