THE WAY opposition parties act creates the impression they are all controlled by some invisible power which regularly issues them a political directive and is followed loyally. This is especially true in the case of Cyprus problem related issues on which all, with the exception of AKEL, speak with one voice.
We have been witnessing this oft-seen phenomenon again in the last few days as all these parties – Greens, Citizens’ Alliance, Solidarity Movement, EDEK, DIKO – have been demanding the immediate convening of the National Council. Such a meeting became imperative after last week’s Anastasiades-Akinci meeting which had reportedly turned understandings into convergences.
All the party leaders were collectively anxious to find out from the president what these convergences were, if their party announcements were anything to go by, because they needed to know what was going on at the talks. And they were not happy with the president’s proposal to brief them all separately, in one-to-one meetings, because they all disagreed with the government’s view, expressed by Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, that it was inadvisable for the National Council to meet during the election campaign.
He was absolutely right bearing in mind how the opposition parties have always used the Cyprus problem to score cheap political points. This is much more likely during an election campaign, given that all the above-mentioned opposition parties are after the votes of a specific group of people – those opposed to a settlement. And they all operate on the assumption that the fiercer the criticism of the talks, the more votes will be won.
This is why they have all publicly called for a National Council meeting, not wanting to be viewed by the nationalist voters as having abandoned their hard line. In fact, they are in competition with each other as they are all targeting the same limited group of voters. This explains why when one of them takes a public position against Anastasiades’ handling of the peace talks, the rest follow suit, saying more or less the same things.
We are sure this is also what happens during the council meetings. The president has to hear the objections and criticisms of five leaders, not to mention their sidekicks, who are the majority in the meeting even if their total share of the vote is no more than 25 per cent. Anastasiades, in effect, has to negotiate not only with Akinci but also with the hard-line party leaders all of whom make no secret of their opposition to the type of settlement on the cards. In fact, as we have said many times in the past, Anastasiades should not even be consulting these party leaders as their objective – the collapse of the talks and maintenance of the status quo – is completely different from his. They cannot possibly make a positive contribution to his efforts to reach a deal, so why consult them?