THURSDAY’S agreement between President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci to resume intensive talks on all outstanding issues, which will come to a head between January 9 and 11 in Geneva, to be followed by an international summit on guarantees, was hailed as a positive development by Turkish Cypriots on Friday, but sparked outrage among Greek Cypriot opposition parties.
Smaller parties, that have traditionally taken a harder stance on the Cyprus problem talks, claimed Anastasiades had broken his pledge to them – and the public – by consenting to a roadmap with a deadline and agreeing to set a date for the international conference without prior agreement on all other issues.
“What [Anastasiades] agreed to is an automatic procedure that, either with agreement on outstanding issues or without it, will take us to a five-party conference, where we will be subjected to blackmail or be blamed for the failure to come to a settlement,” Diko leader Nicolas Papadopoulos said from Athens, where he is meeting with Greek government officials.
In the same vein, the Citizens’ Alliance protested that Anastasiades accepted “all Turkish terms”.
“I have no doubt that Turkey will act the same way it did in 2004,” Alliance leader Yiorgos Lillikas said in reference to the final negotiation on the Annan plan, which failed to bring agreement and led to arbitration by the United Nations’ Secretary General.
“Having secured the timeframes it will stall for time, compromise on nothing, and we will go to the summit with all chapters open. Mr Anastasiades’ handling now jeopardises the very existence of [the Republic of Cyprus].”
The Solidarity movement said Anastasiades “yet again” reneged on his commitments and is “being dragged toward a pre-determined solution, participating in the theatre staged brilliantly by [UN special adviser Espen Barth] Eide”.
“We consider these developments extremely dangerous and call on the public and opposition parties to remain alert,” leader Eleni Theocharous said.
The Green party described the agreement to resume talks and set a deadline for conclusion a “negative development” and claimed the international conference will be held “without the presence of the Republic of Cyprus and the five permanent members of the Security Council”.
“Unfortunately, President Anastasiades did a U-turn and resisted – supposedly – only for a few days,” leader Giorgos Perdikis said.
“He has a lot of explaining to do, both to political parties and the Cypriot people.”
Meanwhile, on Friday deputy government spokesman Victoras Papadopoulos announced that Anastasiades will be flying to Athens for consultations with the Greek government “in the coming days”, and will convene the National Council on Wednesday morning.
“During Thursday’s dinner, the two leaders agreed that the process will pick up where it left off at Mont Pelerin,” spokesman Papadopoulos said.
“Meetings between the two negotiators will intensify so that all issues, if possible, are resolved before the January 9 milestone. It is very important that all six chapters will be discussed simultaneously.”
With regard to the international summit, Papadopoulos said international treaties concerning Cyprus cannot be amended without the presence of the Republic of Cyprus, and added that since the Treaty of Guarantee is an international treaty, the presence of the Republic of Cyprus is required.
News of the agreement was received positively in the north, with social media comments suggesting a revival of hope.
“A roadmap and hope came out of last night’s dinner,” CTP chairman Turfan Erhurman posted.
Akinci, who received some praise from Turkish Cypriot press for “getting what he wanted”, briefed ‘parliament’ in a closed session on the latest on Friday.
He said of Thursday’s dinner that the impasse was overcome and that the meeting was “very constructive”.
“A new window of opportunity has been opened, and this is what we hoped for and suggested,” he said.