EVERY DAY he is in Cyprus, President Anastasiades makes public comments about the Cyprus talks and more recently about the conference that will start in Crans-Montana on June 28. Some might say this is because he makes too many public appearances – he seems incapable of turning down any invitation to attend events, especially now that elections are on the horizon – at which he is always obliged to make a speech. The Cyprus problem is considered an easy subject to speak on, even if it means repeating the same things ad nauseam.
But this is only part of the truth, because the president’s daily speeches do not just consist of platitudes. There is a negative theme running through them, the president constantly telling us how the conference will fail if Turkey does not do this or that. It is as if he is already preparing for the blame game. On Sunday, for instance, he said that negotiations on security and guarantees had to be structured in accordance with international law, to ensure the full independence of an EU member state. And then, he said: “Therefore any conditions set, I do not think they are helping us in what we are seeking to achieve.”
Was his demand for negotiations to have a “structure in accordance with international law…” not a case of setting conditions? Was his original demand that the chapter on security and guarantees be discussed first and agreed before anything else was discussed not a case of setting conditions? He made this a condition for going to the conference, until the intervention of the UN secretary-general.
This setting of conditions could be interpreted as the tactic of someone who wants the talks to fail. For instance, the uncompromising stance on security and guarantees – immediate abolition of guarantees and withdrawal of all Turkish troops – leaves no room to negotiate successfully. Even if the Turkish side were willing to reach a compromise on the matter, with his oft-repeated conditions, Anastasiades has, in advance declared this a failure. He cannot not accept it because he has ruled out a compromise on countless occasions.
Even if he thought the compromise was favourable to Greek Cypriots, how will he be able to sell it after everything he has been saying? Perhaps the answer is that he does not want to have to sell a settlement, which is why he is constantly raising public expectations. After all, it is not very clever to go into make or break negotiations, which can only be successful if the two sides are prepared to compromise on many important issues, by announcing beforehand an unwillingness to compromise.