Main opposition Akel and the government exchanged barbs on Tuesday over the failure of the Swiss talks and the pledge by the latter to release the minutes of the fated final dinner in Crans-Montana on July 6.
Akel leader Andros Kyprianou warned the government it was heading for a “megaton conflict” with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the leadership of the UN, not just with UN Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide who has essentially been accused of lying about what went down.
President Nicos Anastasiades said on Monday night he would release the minutes from the dinner to prove who was to blame for the failure.
Deputy government spokesman Victoras Papadopoulos hit back at Akel, accusing Kyprianou of being disingenuous by saying on the one hand it was known Turkey was to blame for the talks’ collapse, and on the other apportioning blame to Anastasiades. He suggested Kyprianou could not have it both ways.
Akel retorted, saying that if the party’s worries over the turn of events in the wake of Crans-Montana did not concern the president in the same way then “that says something”.
In his first volley early on Tuesday, Kyprianou had said: “Every reasonable person cannot but be concerned about the megaton conflict brewing between the president and the UN. It is not a clash between the president and Mr Eide, who only days ago received the full backing of the UN Secretary-General and the UN Security Council,” Kyprianou said. “We are confronting the UN, the body who will solve our [the Cyprus] problem.”
He said in the past Anastasiades was the voice of reason when others were choosing to enter a conflict with UN representatives.
“Until yesterday we were being told that Mr Guterres has proven in practice that he is a politician on a higher level, that he is the secretary-general who made the big difference,” he added.
He said it would not be a bad thing in the circumstances to take a look at ourselves. Asked whether he thought Eide was properly prepared – the government says he was not – Kyprianou said if there was not enough ground for a meaningful discussion in Crans-Montana, “why did we accept to go if there were no grounds for a positive result?”
Eide also denied that he was not prepared, suggesting it was up to the two sides to be prepared as the UN was merely facilitating the talks.
“The dialogue was Cyprus-owned,” Kyprianou said. “It was not a matter for the one who co-ordinated the negotiations but a question of those who were discussing with each other.”
Kyprianou said he was concerned over the developments since coming from the Turkish side.
Eide met both leaders on Monday and came away saying he did not see a resumption of the talks any time soon.
Kyprianou echoed this saying: “It does not seem that the dialogue on the Cyprus issue will resume and the party [Akel] is concerned that trends are already underway and have started in the Turkish Cypriot community and talk about a solution outside the UN framework. All of this should make us worry and worry, and not encourage us to focus our efforts on how to deal with the criticism we receive from Mr Eide or anyone else.”
Both the government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides and deputy spokesman Papadopoulos hit back at Kyprianou. The former said Nicosia was not in conflict with the UN but has a different reading of what happened at the crucial dinner.
Christodoulides reiterated on Cybc that the dinner minutes would be made public, so that the people, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, would know the real facts.
“Everyone should know that Turkish intransigence was the reason why the Conference did not succeed,” he said.
Papadopoulos accused Kyprianou of creating doubt about the intentions of the Greek Cypriot side, and implying manipulation by the president at the negotiating table.
“First, while the same Mr Kyprianou declares that the failure was the fault of the Turkish side, on the other hand he quibbles that the president was not prepared or did not handle things properly, which takes from the responsibilities of the Turkish side for the collapse,” he said. “It can’t be both.”
Eide called it a “collective failure”.
Papadopoulos also said that Kyprianou claims not to know what was said at the dinner on July 6 even though he was in Crans-Montana and had daily briefings both by the president and the chief negotiator.
The Akel leader had also attended a two-day session of the National Council on his return, which had read the minutes of the dinner after the update made by Greek foreign minister Nicos Kotzias, as well as the information which Kyprianou himself had received from the Greek Prime Minister “and understood exactly what happened” and that the president was not responsible, Papadopoulos added.
“Finally, we would like to emphasise that the President is not in conflict with the United Nations and the secretary-general “whom he greatly appreciates”.
“What the president has is a duty to deal with any distortions and untruths of the events either by public statements or by rumours.”
Akel’s response to this was that the government had only hit back accusing Kyprianou of “creating shadows and doubts” but had not answered to the substance of the issues raised.
“The general-secretary of Akel is fully aware of what happened and that is why he daily expresses concern about the developments. If this worries the president and causes him to react in such a way, then this means something,” a statement said.
“In any case, Mr Anastasiades should be concerned that the UN does not share his anger towards Mr Eide nor does it apportion singular blame to Turkey. Instead, the UN considers Mr Eide their valuable partner and confers equal responsibility to both leaders,” it added.
“We must see how we can address the situation and upcoming developments and not behave like party leaders who risked our relations with the UN in order to win elections. Mr Anastasiades should explain what Cyprus gains by intense and open conflict with the United Nations.”