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Our View: Anastasiades’ actions give the impression he’s playing the blame game

Nicos Anastasiades, (R) is welcomed by the EU commission President Jean-Claude Juncker

UNTIL January’s Geneva conference on Cyprus, the main theme of all President Anastasiades’ speeches was the issue of security and guarantees. It was unheard for a modern state to be subject to the guarantee of another state he would say before drawing his red line – there could be no settlement with Turkish guarantees. On this he was in full agreement with rejectionist parties, even though his objective, supposedly, was a settlement.

After the conference, presumably, because the Turkish side indicated that a compromise could be reached on the thorny issue of security and guarantees Anastasiades has found another unacceptable Turkish demand to use as justification for the waning of his commitment in a settlement – the four freedoms.

A top official of the Turkish government said that the four freedoms would have to be enjoyed by all Turkish nationals, as they would be enjoyed by Greek citizens.

Anastasiades has gone to town on this, writing to EU governments, to complain and seek their views/support as well as sending a letter of complaint to the UN Secretary-General. He cleverly tried to present this as a problem for the EU, arguing that such an agreement would allow entry into EU countries of 70 million Turks, presumably via Cyprus and sought to secure the support of the European Commission.

No public support has been given by the Commission, even though the Cyprus News Agency quoting a Commission source, claimed yesterday after Anastasiades’ meeting with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, that there was agreement between the two on the Turkish demand on the four freedoms. The government also said that Juncker had agreed the demand was not a bilateral issue but an issue for the whole of the EU.

Even if Juncker agreed in private, as the government claimed, there was no way he would take a public stand on the matter, because the Commission wants a Cyprus settlement and does not want to poison the climate by antagonising Turkey. Anastasiades who has milked the issue ever since it was raised, does not seem to have any such concerns, giving the impression he is more than happy to have been given a new argument for the blame-game he had been engaging in for the last month and a half.

This is not to say that Turkey’s demand should be satisfied, but if Anastasiades was as committed to reaching a deal as he claims to be, he would have been looking for ways to overcome the problem, instead of using to score points in the blame game and create the impression that his position has the full support of the EU. This behaviour suggests that he has given up on the talks and that his main concern now is to avoid the blame for the latest failure.

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