By Loucas Charalambous
I HAVE written here in the past that the main reason the Cyprus problem could not be solved for so many years was because it was in the hands of lawyers and monks. Admittedly, the monks are no longer directly involved, but the lawyers certainly are.
The nature of their profession means lawyers create rather than solve problems. If there were no disputes they would have no work. It has often been said, quite rightly, that if you do not want a problem solved give it to lawyers.
The lawyer Christos Triantafyllides makes a habit of tweeting his patriotic views. After the football victory of the Cyprus under-21 national side against Turkey in Ankara, he addressed a sarcastic tweet to the president of the Cyprus Football Federation Costakis Koutsokoumnis. This was the man Triantafyllides had lambasted for wearing a Turkish football shirt when he played in a fun match. “Mr Koutsokoumnis do not punish them because the crescent lost,” he tweeted after the young team’s win.
This was not written by some impetuous teenager. It was written by a respectable lawyer, whom Averof Neophytou has appointed head of his ‘Cyprus problem committee’ at Disy and President Anastasides has as an advisor in the negotiations. I will not comment on the shabby behaviour or the immaturity shown by Triantafyllides. I want to point out Anastasiades’ and Neophytou’s lack of seriousness. How can a rational person believe that these people sincerely want to solve the Cyprus problem when they have Triantafyllides as an advisor?
Another lawyer, Polys Polyviou, who is also a member of the negotiating team, published an email in Simerini expressing strong disagreements over the handling of various issues being discussed at the talks. I will not disagree with him about the foolish idea regarding the mechanism for resolving disputes between the two sides. Anastasiades, also a lawyer, had agreed that if there were a tie in the vote of the members of the committee, one of the judges would be removed by draw.
But I will comment on another position of his. In his email, Polyviou expressed “strong concerns about the transitional periods, wondering how Turkey would be pressured, after the agreement of a settlement, to implement everything it had agreed.” This is absurdist reasoning. It was the main ‘argument’ used by Tassos Papadopoulos and all the rejectionists in the debate that took place before the 2004 referendum.
“Who guarantees us that Turkey will not trick us and not implement the agreement,” was the question they constantly asked. Polyviou should forgive me, but I cannot accept such crass nonsense from a sensible man.
First of all, our behaviour in the past, as the Greek Cypriot side, does not exactly give us the right to raise such an issue. Polyviou knows very well that the one and only time we made an agreement with Turkey – in 1960 – it was we fools who refused to implement it. He even mentions this in one of his books and attributes “naivety and amateurishness” to Makarios for 1963.
We were the wise guys who, not only failed to honour the agreement, but just two years after signing it set up an armed organisation to scrap the state. The whole world knows this and we cannot hide our heads in the sand and hypocritically ask today who would pressure Turkey to implement everything that was agreed. Unfortunately, our stupidity was on such a grand scale back then that Mustafa Akinci could ask us the question raised by Polyviou about Turkey. And he would be perfectly justified.
It would also be interesting for Polyviou to answer the following: as he does not trust Turkey to implement an agreement, why has he for the past two years taken part in the negotiations? For the ride? Is this serious? Is it possible to enter a negotiating procedure, under the auspices of the UN, with the support and some involvement of big states, take part for two years, go to Europe, the US, Russia and China, begging them to help find an agreement and when you approach the end of the procedure tell the other side: ‘You know I was negotiating with you for two years, but now I have changed my mind and do not want us to reach an agreement because I suspect you will not implement it.’
Who does Polyviou think we are fooling? Akinci, Turkey, the UN, the US, who? And who does he think we are to take everyone for a ride like international cowboys.
Lawyers simply cannot solve the Cyprus problem, and a lot of trouble lies ahead.