Cyprus Mail
CM Regular Columnist Opinion

Kotzias made a mess and called it patriotism

Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias

THE MOST astonishing aspect of Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias’ behaviour is his political audacity. Instead of at least keeping quiet after the disastrous consequences of his incredible amateurishness were made evident, he is also attempting to take us for a ride.

The language used by Kotzias is even worse than that of Tassos Papadopoulos. Responding to criticism made against him, he said: “They vilify me because they do not dare, politically and morally, to say directly that they are in favour of the continued presence and legalisation of the illegal Turkish occupation army.” He also spoke about “the forces which today hide behind my supposedly incorrect behaviour in order to cover up their aim which is for the Turks to stay on the island.”

That a minister could stoop so low, accusing all those who disagree with him of wanting the Turkish troops to remain on island, goes some way to explain why under the current government Greece has been reduced to an international laughing stock.

Kotzias pretends not to understand why he was criticised. It was not for his views on the abolition of the guarantees. It was for the mindless comments he and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras made, before the start of the second round of talks at Mont Pelerin, stressing that Greece would not attend a multi-party conference if its aim was not the abolition of guarantees. In short, they wanted this conference to have the desired result before it had even convened. The question is, why convene this conference if there were no issue to discuss?

This clear backtracking from the agreement made was the reason the Turkish side refused to conclude the discussion on territory and not the actual position on the abolition of guarantees. One wonders what prevented Kotzias or Tsipras showing respect for the agreed procedure. They could have gone to the conference and expressed Greece’s position there.

There is little doubt that Kotzias’ behaviour in particular was an unprecedented diplomatic gaffe that deadlocked procedure at a time when, according to President Anastasiades, the two sides were very close to an agreement on territory.

Kotzias should have hung his head in shame for a blunder that had disastrous results, instead of telling us that the people criticising “want the Turks to stay on the island”. He could use this disingenuous nonsense in his village, even though there were plenty of people here eager to applaud him.

The Turkish Cypriot newspaper Havadis carried a very revealing account in its November 25 issue of how events unfolded in Mont Pelerin, an account that has not been disputed by our side.

According to the paper, with the start of the second phase of the talks in Switzerland, Akinci asked Anastasiades if their agreement was still valid after Tsipras’ and Kotzias’ statements about Greece not participating in the multi-party conference. Anastasiades said he did not agree with Athens and would try to contact Tsipras in order to resolve the matter.

The whole day was wasted on unsuccessful attempts by Anastasiades and Espen Barth Eide to clarify the Greek government’s position. Eide, in fact, “encountered many obstacles” in his efforts to communicate with Tsipras. At one point, before the big break, Anastasiades proposed a 20-day adjournment of the talks, but when the leaders met again for dinner that evening, he withdrew his proposal saying he would try to persuade the Greek government to change its position.

On Monday morning, when the talks resumed, Anastasiades wanted to close the territory issue, something the Turkish side, exploiting Athens’ back-tracking, no longer agreed to. Presumably Akinci had received orders to leave the issue open so it could also be sent to the multi-party conference and be discussed together with the guarantees and security.

This was the achievement of Tsipras and Kotzias, and the latter would do well at least to keep quiet instead of demanding applause and presenting the complete mess he made as a show of patriotism.

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