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Anastasiades: undermining the Republic hardly a ‘missed opportunity’

President Nicos Anastasiades lays a wreath on Sunday (PIO)

President Nicos Anastasiades on Sunday issued a note of caution to “those who advise” the UN Secretary General when it comes to the information he is provided with for his reports on Cyprus.

Anastasiades was responding to questions from journalists on the content of an advance copy of UNSG Ban Ki-moon’s latest progress report on Cyprus, which was circulated to the UN Security Council on Friday night in New York.

There were a number of references in the report to matters that could and did anger quarters in Cyprus on Saturday, specifically where Ban said the refusal of an offer for help from the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey to assist with the Solea fires last month was a “missed opportunity” for collaboration. Ban also urged that agreed confidence building measures be implemented without further delay.

Anastasiades was clearly not pleased with the advance report when he spoke on Sunday.

He said all efforts of the Greek Cypriot side to achieve a good climate in the negotiations should be listed in the report, “whether relating to unilateral confidence-building measures taken, or even the request to the EU to introduce Turkish as an official language or a number of other actions”.

He added that there should be comprehensive information provided to the UNSG, so that all facts were recorded. Creating the image of a biased stance of the UNSG against one or the other community, only “pollutes the climate of the negotiations”, he said.

“Those who inform the Secretary General or those who want to play a role in the settlement of the Cyprus problem should be very careful,” the president added. “Anyone who raises problems is making our task more difficult.”

Referring indirectly to Ban’s Solea comment, he said, any actions that were aimed at undermining the Republic could not be described as a “missed opportunity”. When Turkey offered to assist with the fires, Anastasiades at the time said they were welcome to join the international effort underway, which would have required landing aircraft at Larnaca. Turkey subsequently withdrew its offer.

“Any attempt aiming at undermining the Republic of Cyprus or upgrading the illegal regime, I do not think constitutes a missed opportunity,” Anastasiades said on Sunday on the sidelines of a 1974 memorial event.

When a UNSG report is released, he said, it should reflect the objective facts not just the progress made, but also the difficulties.

“Our effort is to overcome difficulties within a climate of cooperation,” the president said, adding that he hoped the in the final report, events would be reflected appropriately. He said he would reserve his judgment on other issues until he sees the final report.

“I hope that the final report will reflect events properly.”

Ban’s comments drew the ire of opposition parties on Saturday, as interference in Cyprus’ internal affairs and was seen as a slap on the wrist for Anastasiades. The parties suggested Ban stick to being an “impartial intermediary” and focus on the actual negotiations.

Although the government did not publicly respond on Saturday, the Cyprus News Agency citing sources in New York, indicated there were a number of references the Greek Cypriot side could take issue with, including the references to the fires, and Ban’s “weak” comments on the issue of missing persons and the recent restrictions on Orthodox services in the north.

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