YOU CAN only express wonder and awe at Prez Nik’s Byzantine scheming, Machiavellian manipulation and masterful theatrics.
He gave a consummate demonstration of all these qualities in Crans-Montana, not only achieving his objective of seeing off the danger of a settlement for good, but also emerging from the wreck of the conference he helped cause as a national hero in Greek Cypriot eyes.
It was a truly astonishing achievement, earning him the title of ‘king of the Cyprob swindle.’ After his heroics in Switzerland, he has become the true heir of Ethnarch Tassos rather than the untested and untried Junior. Nik, the proven national saviour, has staked his claim for the throne of Tassos the second, as he now focuses on his re-election bid.
He may have endeared himself to the supporters of partition, but he was certainly not going to turn his back on the supporters of a settlement as was made clear in his speech, read by the defence minister, at a memorial service in Kouklia yesterday.
The conference had failed because of Turkish intransigence (insisting on zero troops was not intransigent), but he said efforts would continue to keep the way open and the hope alive for a settlement of the Cyprus problem. Hope of a settlement has always been preferable to the actual settlement for all our politicians, because hope is easier to handle.
HOW DID Nik manage to fool so many Greek Cypriots into believing that he was in Switzerland with the aim of reaching a deal, after doing everything he could to avoid going there?
First he had set a series of conditions for attending that he knew the Turks would never accept. He was forced to attend after a meeting with the UNSG in New York. Then he made a huge fuss about the common document, his spokesman declaring that he would not go to the conference if it was not agreed. When it was submitted by Espen Barth Eide, he raised hell about it, finding dozens of things wrong with it. He told Eide that going to Switzerland was out of the question, thus forcing the UN to withdraw the document.
Once there, he kept making negative statements about the conference ably assisted by his spokesman, goody-two-shoes Christodoulides who leaked information to hacks aimed at creating a hostile attitude among the public in Kyproulla towards the conference – the campaign was assisted by Greece’s foreign minister Nikos Kotzias.
Last Monday, he submitted proposals that were outside the framework agreed with UNSG Antonio Guterres, but managed to turn all attention on the Turkish side because its proposals were only a page long. Our proposals took 25 pages, which made them better.
And when the issue was raised at Monday night’s national council meeting by Akel’s Andros Kyprianou, Nik, who was shouting and swearing, accused him of conveying the Turkish positions. Ironically, this was an accusation the late Tassos used to make against Nik back in the days of the A plan.
NIK’S biggest fear was the possible arrival of the prime ministers in Crans-Montana because they would have not hang around for him to play his games. They would have finalised the issue of security and guarantees, in a way that may have been acceptable to Greek Cypriots – no right of unilateral intervention, end to guarantees and the presence of a small number of soldiers for the foreseeable future. Nik may have found it difficult to insist on the so-called sunset clause for troops, in the presence of the PMs after securing all these other things.
To prevent this from happening he made several calls to Greece’s prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, to persuade him not to attend. Publicly, he left it to Kotzias to explain why Tsipras had decided against going to the conference. With Tsipras refusing to attend, the other two PMs could not go either.
But he could not prevent Guterres from returning to Crans-Montana, so he thought up what turned out to be his masterstroke – the package of compromise proposals to break the deadlock.
THIS package, which contained some concessions with caveats, were released to the Greek Cypriot media before they had even been submitted to the Turks at Wednesday’s evening session, suggesting that they were drafted for public consumption back in Kyproulla.
What serious negotiator would release his proposals to the public before giving them to the other side? It was another gimmick to show the people back home that the prez was committed to a settlement and was willing to make big concession to achieve it, while working for the collapse of the conference.
He knew that he would come under pressure from Guterres the next day but would refuse to budge. When the conference collapsed, as it did 24 hours later, he would be able to blame it on Turkish intransigence, having proved to public opinion in Cyprus with his package that he was sincerely committed to a deal. His plan worked very well.
Several pro-settlement supporters that spoke to our establishment had all been fooled by the crafty Nik, asking ‘what else could he have done?’
FOR ONE, he could have been a bit more pragmatic. He could have chosen the presence of 650 Turkish troops with a review rather than a sunset clause instead of opting for the presence of 40,000 Turkish troops without any clause. How smart was that? And what if the UN decide to pull out Unficyp in a year or two?
He persisted with zero troop demand at the Last Supper, which turned into a slanging match between the two sides, with Nik doing most of the shouting. “He simply didn’t want it,” said a person attending the last supper and added: “Tonight’s dinner was a disaster and he (Nik) was behaving very badly.”
This bad behaviour – yelling at people and shouting abuse at them – was repeatedly witnessed at the national council throughout the week while Eide was regularly on the receiving end. Probably the only reason he did not throw any ashtray at Eide, Guterres or Cavusoglu during the Last Supper, when he was beside himself, was because there were none available – smoking was prohibited in the building.
The smoking ban may have been the reason he regularly lost his temper. There was no alcohol ban though, which may explain why he was so tired and emotional at most meetings including the Last Supper. Of course, the tantrums and bad temper could all have been theatre aimed at pissing off everyone and sparking a reaction. This worked as well because Cavusoglu also showed his nasty side at the final meal.
THERE was another alarming thing in Crans-Montana, Nik appeared to have an unusually large number of white hairs on his head. Had he forgotten his hair-dye at home or was this because he had not been able to visit his hairdresser for a week? Of course, it could be that he never dyes his hair, but the pressure, stress and worry of a settlement being forced on him turned his hair white.
PARTY leaders, who were also in Crans Montana, generally kept a low profile with the exception of the turtle lover Perdikis who made a point of sending idiotic tweets. On Monday he tweeted a picture of a meeting among the Turkish Cypriot and Turkish delegations with the following comment:
“Turkish games. Official meeting of TRNC-Turkey with the flag of the pseudo state. The flag of the Cyprus Republic absent. We are the good children.” If we were bad children, would we have stormed into the room and placed the Cyprus flag on the table?
There was another tweet. “Vampire seen roaming the woods of Crans-Montana. Answers to the name of Nihat Erim. Anastasiades concessions without our approval.”
During a national council meeting the brainy Green said “we explained in a very well-documented and scientific way that the conference is an effort doomed from the start.” If I had more room I would explain in a very well-documented and scientific way that it is a criminal waste of the taxpayer’s money to pay for clowns like Perdikis to attend conferences about the future of the country.
Had the prez told him that the effort was doomed from the start?
AT LEAST, Dr Eleni Theocharous sent one of her Solidarity minions to represent her party in Switzerland not wanting to waste her valuable time on a doomed effort. Only on Wednesday when she heard that things might be progressing did she get into her car and drive all the way to Crans-Montana to avert the disaster. In the end, her rescue act was not needed as Nik took good care of things.
MOTHER Russia’s governor Stanislav Osadchiy had to be asked by Tass news agency what he thought about the collapse of the conference and he came with a quite brilliant answer. “The meeting in Crans-Montana of Switzerland was just a stage in the procedure of the settlement of the Cyprus problem,” he said.
He did not tell us when the next stage in the procedure would take place, but he did back Nik’s position on zero troops, without being asked by Tass. “We hope Cyprus will become a united state, without guarantees and armed forces of other countries.”
Such an endorsement by the governor of Mother Russia would be helpful to Nik’s election campaign.
I WILL close with Kotzias’ morale-boosting comment after the talks collapsed. “The dream of a settlement plan for Cyprus remains alive.” Carry on dreaming
follow Patroclos on Twitter @Coffeeshop1991on Twitter.