Mustafa Akinci’s suggestion on Monday of the two sides accepting the (UN Secretary-General Antonio) Guterres framework submitted at Crans Montana as a “strategic package agreement” annoyed rather than pleased President Anastasiades, probably because it showed he was not as keen as he claimed on resuming the talks. It ruined the narrative about his readiness to resume talks as soon as possible and his commitment to a settlement.
The negativity with which he and his spokesman responded to Akinci’s suggestion did not support the narrative, but on the contrary showed a president that is very happy with the situation as it is. The only type of peace process he is interested in is an open-ended one that can drag on inconclusively for a few months or years until it is deadlocked because of Turkey’s intransigence. Akinci, however, does not want to be dragged into a ‘talks for the sake of talks’ procedure, and demands that a time-frame is set, which Anastasiades had made clear he would not accept.
This was the main reason he went on the offensive, issuing a written statement asking Akinci and Ankara “to take a clear position on whether they accept or not the parameters of the UNSG so that misinterpretations can be avoided.” He cited the parameters about security and guarantees, but did not mention the parameters that our side does not like such as rotating presidency, political equality and rights of property users that were also included in the framework. To muddy the waters, he also made out that Akinci was referring to the framework submitted verbally by Guterres and not the version transcribed by one of his associates on July 4, which was supposedly different.
Anastasiades managed to make the version of the framework the big issue, thus diverting attention away from his refusal to explore, at least, the possibility of breaking the deadlock. Akinci publicly expressed acceptance of the Guterres framework, upon which Anastasiades wanted any future talks to be based, because it dealt with the right of intervention and guarantees; of course it also referred to rotating presidency, which he does not like. If he was remotely interested in a resumption of the talks and having another shot at a deal, Anastasiades would not have responded in such a negative way, questioning Akinci’s motives and accusing him of being insincere. This was the reaction of a man wanting to shut any opening for a new peace process. Even if Akinci was bluffing, as Anastasiades implied in his response, he was not prepared to take the risk of calling the bluff, in case it was not.
The diversionary tactics continued on Friday with Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides telling CyBC the government had given its approval to the appointment by the UNSG of Jane Holl Lute as a temporary envoy to explore the prospects of a resumption of the talks and wanted her to visit as soon as possible. Turkey, though, had not given its consent, Christodoulides speculating that Ankara wanted the visit after the presidential elections of June 24. Our side was in hurry to see the envoy visiting the area so that it could create the impression that it wanted a resumption of the talks. It was not willing however to take the step of agreeing to Akinci’s proposal on the framework that would improve the climate and slightly increase the chances of Lute achieving a breakthrough during her tour.
It is very clear that Anastasiades does not want to return to the negotiating table to discuss bi-zonal, bi-communal federation set out by the Guterres framework, which he supposedly supports. As we wrote several weeks ago, the president has decided that he wants a two-state solution but is afraid to say so openly. He has said this in private meetings and made his views known to the Turkish side, as Phileleftheros has repeatedly reported. His plan however is to achieve this by stealth, which is why he immediately tried to shoot down Akinci’s proposal and dogmatically objects to talks with time-frames. He wants open-ended talks that will never end because of Turkish intransigence, and thus make partition inevitable, through no fault of his own. Having a UN envoy visiting the area also helps promote the myth that Anastasiades is committed to a resumption of the process.
The big question is why the president engages in all this theatre? He is smart enough to know he is not fooling the UN or the EU with these crude manoeuvres and diversionary tactics. We can only assume the target of his political dishonesty are Greek Cypriots, to whom he seems intent on eventually serving partition as the only possible solution while theatrically claiming he did his best to avoid it. A pity he does not have enough respect for people to say this openly and argue his case, preferring instead to engage in this cheap theatre and misinformation.