Having found little fault with President Nicos Anastasiades’ performance in New York, and his supposed thwarting of attempts for a multilateral conference on the Cyprus issue, the parties of the so-called centre have rounded on UN envoy Espen Barth Eide, accusing him of wheeler dealing.
The criticism of Eide – including calls for replacing him – prompted the government spokesman on Wednesday to state that “the president has no problem with Mr Eide.”
One by one, opposition parties – bar AKEL – said the Norwegian diplomat had overstepped his terms of reference as a UN advisor tasked with facilitating the reunification talks.
They accused Eide of going beyond that, up to and including misinforming EU officials by giving them the impression that a new three-way meeting was on the cards between Anastasiades, Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and UN chief Ban Ki-moon, followed by a five-way meeting that would include the three guarantor powers.
It has been claimed that Eide had informed EU Commission President Jean Claude Juncker that Sunday’s tripartite meeting in New York would develop into a five-party conference on the issue of guarantees and a roadmap with a timetable for a year-end solution.
Officially, the Greek Cypriot side is dead set against fixed timetables.
An article penned by Yiannos Charalambides in daily Simerini on Wednesday claimed that, prior to the New York meeting, Eide had briefed associates of Juncker that the leaders would agree on holding a subsequent five-way conference on the Cyprus issue.
Simerini went on to claim that Eide meanwhile misled EU technocrats by telling them that all pending issues in the talks would be discussed in such a five-way conference, and that the whole process should be wrapped up by December.
The paper accused the UN official of cultivating an “overly optimistic picture” of the talks process.
In a statement on Wednesday, Edek spokeswoman Maria Panayiotou demanded that the president should immediately recall Eide, whom she called ‘biased’.
Earlier, Diko spokesman Athos Antoniades said Eide has lost his credibility as a UN official.
“Unfortunately, it seems Mr Eide is following in the footsteps of Alvaro de Soto,” Antoniades said, a reference to the UN special advisor who was in Cyprus at the time of the Annan plan and 2004 referendum.
In public pronouncements, he added, Eide constantly used indirect blackmail by warning the leaders that they would be held to account should they let slip the current opportunity to solve the Cyprus problem.
In comments to the press following Sunday’s tripartite in New York, Eide had said that even though no date hds been set, there was a consensus as regards the issue of a new tripartite meeting in the near future.
He added, however, that the UN had no timetable and there was only the goal set by the two leaders.
“However, we recall that time is of vital importance… because we see the opportunity and we know that we will not be able to wait for the window of opportunity to remain open for very long.”
Asked for his own take on Eide, ruling Disy leader Averof Neophytou chose to sit on the fence.
Neophytou said he would await a briefing from the president before forming an opinion either way.
But he did have a dig at the opposition parties: “I would like the leaders of the permanent worriers to point out to me which UN envoy they have ever been pleased with.”