President Nicos Anastasiades on Tuesday cancelled a meeting scheduled for Thursday with UN special envoy Espen Barth-Eide, as well as a meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, originally scheduled for Friday, government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said.
The moves followed him declining to attend a dinner hosted by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday night during the World Humanitarian Summit in Turkey after he was informed Akinci would be in attendance.
Reports cited by the Cyprus News Agency claimed that Anastasiades told Eide, who called him to inform him of Akinci’s sudden arrival, “you have a nice dinner, I will not be attending”.
Asked to comment on Anastasiades’ response to Monday’s events upon his return to Cyprus, Akinci described it as an “overreaction”.
He said he was invited to Monday’s dinner by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and decided to accept as it presented him with the chance to meet with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
Akinci added that he and Ban place great import on the seven-month period till the end of the year, noting that the secretary-general’s term expires at the end of 2016, and “he would like to leave the post with a problem he has worked for a lot solved.
“My meeting with the Secretary General was in the context of finding a solution,” he said.
“But I would be remiss if I did not note that it is really senseless for our presence there to be unpalatable. Instead of acting on emotion, we should move forward with common sense.”
He explained that the reason he only arrived to Istanbul on Monday night was that he was waiting for the meeting with Ban to be confirmed.
“We found out that we could meet him on Monday night, and that’s why it appeared as if it was a last-minute thing,” he said.
Commenting on Anastasiades’ annoyance, Akinci said a “disproportionate reaction” is being displayed in the Greek Cypriot side.
“The Greek Cypriots have gotten used to representing the Republic of Cyprus, in which the Turkish Cypriots have a stake too, by themselves for 53 years,” he said.
“It must not be forgotten that the Turkish Cypriots will not remain stuck in the buffer zone.”
Christodoulides said the president brought forward his departure from Istanbul to Tuesday, instead of leaving on Wednesday, as scheduled, to Athens, where he will meet Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
The Greek Premier will brief Anastasiades on the meeting he had with Erdogan in Turkey.
The government spokesman added that, “following these developments”, Anastasiades cancelled Thursday’s meeting with Eide. In a statement hours later, Christodoulides confirmed the Friday meeting has also been cancelled over the goings-on in Istanbul and a lack of “fertile ground” for the meeting.
“Following Monday’s unacceptable actions at the World Humanitarian Summit, held in Turkey, President Nicos Anastasiades regretfully notes the absence of the right conditions to hold the scheduled meeting with the Turkish Cypriot leader on Friday,” Christodoulides said.
“The president reiterates his readiness for a continued dialogue, provided the principles of mutual respect and joint will to find a mutually acceptable solution are being honoured, instead of unilateral actions aiming at upgrading the breakaway state [in the Turkey-occupied areas in the north of Cyprus].”
Akinci said there was no reason to cancel the meeting, adding he was informed that Anastasiades cancelled it through social media.
“President Anastasiades cancelled the meeting with Mr Eide, and that is their decision,” he said.
“We will meet with Mr Eide on Thursday morning.”
Meanwhile, UN spokesman in Cyprus Aleem Siddique said Eide is scheduled to arrive in Cyprus on Wednesday, although his schedule of meetings has not yet been finalised.
Asked to confirm whether Thursday’s meeting with Anastasiades has been cancelled, Siddique said “right now there is no scheduled meeting with Mr Anastasiades”.
On the sidelines of the summit on Tuesday, Anastasiades met separately with the Finnish and Lebanese Premiers, with whom he discussed the Cyprus problem and EU-Turkey relations.
Meanwhile, possibly in response to the brewing crisis in the stalled UN-mediated talks for a solution to the Cyprus problem, a US State Department official expressed hope that the talks will be re-invigorated following the conclusion of Sunday’s parliamentary elections in the Republic of Cyprus.
“The United States congratulates the Republic of Cyprus on holding peaceful and democratic parliamentary elections,” the official said when asked to comment on the elections.
“Now that the elections have passed, we hope the two sides will reinvigorate their efforts to reunify the island as a bizonal, bicommunal federation.”