BURSTING with enthusiasm, government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides announced last Wednesday that in the “new intensified phase of the talks the president would be accompanied by a very specific team of law professionals and from now the problems would be discussed there and the leaders would have a bigger role.”
How amazing. Now that the president is taking with him to the talks the “very specific team of law professionals” I would bet everything I own there is not a chance in a million for a Cyprus settlement. And Christodoulides did not explain what he meant by the leaders now having a bigger role. What was their role until now? That of extras?
When I take into account though that this “very specific team of law professionals” will be led by constitutional expert Dr Claire Palley, who unexpectedly re-appeared on the talks’ scene after a lengthy absence, the objective becomes all too clear. For all those who know our president well, the arrival of this lady can only be seen as yet another tactical manoeuvre of his. I have no doubt that he has hired her to help him disengage from the talks so that he can start on his re-election campaign.
Ms Palley, who had been hired as an expert talks’ advisor by several presidents, was used by Tassos Papadopoulos for the same reason that President Anastasiades plans to use her. He needs her to provide legal justification for his negative stance and for rejecting provisions we had accepted previously (one such example is the rotating presidency). He appointed as his ‘constitutional advisor’ this lady, an academic lawyer with next to no experience of practical politics, to serve his rejectionist tactics by finding legal faults in all proposals and suggestions.
After Papadopoulos succeeded in killing the 2004 effort for a solution, Ms Palley, apart from her consultant’s fee, received a present. She wrote a 600-page book that was a grovelling ode to Papadopoulos and, at the same time, a merciless attack on the UN and its representatives. The Press and Information Office (PIO) bought a huge number of copies of her book. Under the circumstances, I think Anastasiades should inform us the fee we will be paying Ms Palley and whether her agreement with the government also involves the publication of a book that the taxpayer would have to buy.
The Cyprus issue is a political problem. Political problems are not solved with legalistic theories, legal sophistries, silly rhetoric or empty slogans about human rights. Politics is not exercised by lawyers and constitutional experts. The late Glafcos Clerides had strong views on this matter. Even though he was a lawyer by training he did not buy into the myth that lawyers could solve political problems.
I will not forget what he told us once, while talking about some views expressed in an article by Andreas Angelides, a lawyer and, at the time, a DIKO deputy. “This guy, if you assigned him the solving of the Cyprus problem, would go to the Nicosia district court and file a law suit against Turkey.”
To solve the Cyprus problem a real politician is needed, one who is ready to take the brave decisions necessary to salvage what can still be salvaged and be spared of the worse things. Unfortunately, Anastasiades is not made of this stuff and it is futile to expect him to display such courage. Certainly not now that he is handing over his political responsibilities to the “very specific team of law professionals” and the indescribable Ms Palley whom he has brought back, as she approaches 86 years of age, not to help solve the Cyprus problem, but to justify the imminent collapse of the negotiations and provide him with the excuses required by his cunning tactical manoeuvres.