Cyprus Mail
CM Regular Columnist Opinion

President should take heed of his own plea for seriousness

Photo: UN

By Loucas Charalambous

“IF WE want a solution we must be grounded and negotiate seriously,” said President Nicos Anastasiades in an interview on Sigma TV on Tuesday night. His remark was directed at opposition politicians and regarded the leaking of the document he had given them at Monday’s National Council meeting.

I hope the president would forgive me for saying this, but the first people that need to get serious are him and his associates. Of course, the demagogues of the opposition are not behaving with any seriousness, but they were, are and always will be irresponsible. They will never become serious.

But is the president grounded and negotiating seriously? Do the daily statements about what he accepts and what he does not accept, the convening of the House of demagogues for a “confidential” briefing and the news conferences to supposedly inform the people when he claims that all issues were pending, still constitute serious negotiations? Is this how serious negotiations are conducted?

The television news on Monday night was very entertaining. In the first report government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides proudly announced the president had given the document he had read to Ban Ki-moon in Davos to the party leaders and expressed the certainty they would show a sense of responsibility and not leak it. The report, immediately after this one, informed us that the document had indeed been leaked and Christodoulides was back on our screens looking angry and dejected.

One wonders again, who are more serious: the political clowns of the opposition or the president and his spokesman? Did the latter have any doubt that within minutes of the former leaving the National Council meeting the document would be given to Sigmalive website? If they were under the illusion this would not happen, after everything that has gone on in the past, they must be less serious than the others.

Unfortunately, the lack of seriousness is also reflected in the document. I have not understood why it was written, why it was read to the UN Secretary-General, or why it was distributed as a ‘confidential’ document to the party leaders. Ban is not in the dark about what is happening in the talks. Apart from the permanent team he has in Cyprus, he also has his Special Advisor Espen Barth Eide who sits at all meetings of the leaders. Are we to believe that he was not informed by them about the talks and was waiting to be briefed by Anastasiades, reading a slapdash, bland and badly-written document?

Reading the leaked document, you wonder what has been happening all this time in the talks, because in effect it says that nothing has been done yet. Not even the structure of the federal authority has been agreed, even though it has been discussed for seven years now first by Christofias and then by Anastasiades. And all this despite the fact that the relevant provision of the Annan Plan (presidential council), had been accepted by both sides. Even the late Tassos Papadopoulos considered that provision of the plan acceptable, so what the hell are they discussing now?

I was astonished by another point made in the document. The president said that many matters, for which “we have not started substantive talks,” were still pending. He mentioned the following as examples: “the drafting of federal legislation and the drafting of the federal constitution and the constitutions of the states.”

What have the dozens of lawyers and other brains he has assembled on all those committees been doing for two years now? These were all drafted by us in thousands of pages in 2004 and had been accepted by the Turkish side, so they must be ready. It seems we have started taking the UN Secretary-General for a ride.

In the television interview, Anastasiades also said the following: “What interests me, is not to satisfy those who accepted the Annan plan but the concern of those who rejected it.” But he knows that the overwhelming majority of those who rejected it had reasonable concerns about the plan – they had not even read it. Their only concern then, as now, is that there might be a settlement, because in reality they do not want any settlement.

It is the president that first needs to get serious and grounded. He should put aside the tactical manoeuvring and public negotiating and focus on reaching an agreement the soonest, if he really wants a settlement.

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