IT WAS no surprise that President Anastasiades bowed to party pressure and ruled out the possibility of an informal meeting with Mustafa Akinci and the prime ministers of Greece and Turkey when attending next week’s World Economic Forum in Davos. The government spokesman, Nicos Christodoulides, announced through the Cyprus News Agency yesterday morning that there “is no issue of a formal or informal, four-party and/or five-party meeting in Davos,” in order to appease the president’s critics.
This is how things work under Anastasiades, especially in relation to the Cyprus problem. If the parties make a noise about an issue he immediately retreats, in order to keep them happy. He had been resolute with regard to meeting Akinci in Davos, if invited by the UN Secretary General, which had also come under attack by the parties. “If invited I will certainly take part because the Secretary General should be informed about the actual status of the talks,” he said on Wednesday. Yesterday he received the invitation from Ban Ki-moon.
He ignored the familiar nonsense of the parties about the alleged “upgrading” of Akinci to “co-president” at such a meeting, as Anastasiades would be invited as president of the Republic and there Akinci, would be present with a similar status. As DIKO ludicrously pointed out, “only heads of state participate” in the Davos forum and Akinci would be treated as one if he was in a meeting with Anastasiades. The parties are dealing with the trivialities of form and procedure, because they do not want substance discussed, which is understandable given their opposition to a settlement.
This is why Anastasiades should ignore them. He should have jumped at the opportunity for a meeting with the PMs of Turkey and Greece. This was a perfect opportunity to build on the rapport he had with Ahmet Davutoglu at the EU summit last November that may be very useful in the future, as well as gauge the Turkish government’s intentions on Cyprus. He could have brought up, informally, the issue of guarantees which is of such great concern to Greek Cypriots. He could also have found out whether there was a divergence of opinion on what had been agreed at the talks between Akinci and Ankara, as the Greek Cypriot politicians were claiming.
It is very disappointing that Anastasiades chose to spurn this opportunity, in order to satisfy the hard-liners whose objective is the exact opposite of his. The idea that he would not attend such a meeting, that would allow him to exchange views with Davutoglu because it would “upgrade” Akinci, in the eyes of anti-settlement hard-liners is just too ridiculous for words. If Anastasiades’ objective is a settlement he should abandon this nonsense about political upgrades and downgrades resorted to by people who have turned the Cyprus problem into an issue of procedure.