WE have come full circle when President Anastasiades resorts to the same intimidation tactics he was the target of some 14 years ago. Back then he campaigned in favour of accepting the Annan plan and criticised the Papadopoulos government for spurning the best ever opportunity for a settlement. During the referendum campaign he had written to the European Commission to report the government for the way it had tried to suppress open debate about the plan, successfully using the media to create a fanatical anti-settlement climate.
At the time, pro-government parties kept reminding the public that the then Disy chief had reported his country to the EU, while the government spokesman frequently accused him of speaking like a Turk on the Cyprus problem. Anastasiades stood firm, despite the public vilification, refusing to be intimidated by the concerted public attacks on his alleged lack of patriotism.
Having personal experience of such undemocratic methods, we would have thought he would never have resorted to them himself, yet he has done so – repeatedly.
In fact his current government spokesman, Prodromos Prodromou, who back in 2004-5 belonged to the camp pillorying Anastasiades’ ‘pro-Turkish’ positions, is now attacking Akel whenever it criticises the president’s lack of interest in a settlement and accusing it of backing the Turkish side. Prodromou is quite clearly following the instructions of the president, who has repeatedly resorted to the patriotic argument in public. He did it again on Wednesday while addressing the Pasydy annual conference declaring, not for the first time, that the opposition’s arguments about the collapse of the Crans-Montana talks strengthened Turkish intransigence.
“I feel particularly bitter when we witness Turkish intransigence being strengthened thanks to opposition to the government and when we speak of the national issue above everything should be our country and not the party,” he said, in clear reference to Akel, which is the only party criticising his role in the collapse of the talks.
Anastasiades is cynically playing the patriotic card to deflect attention away from his own role in strengthening Turkish intransigence. And this is his objective as he has no interest in a bicommunal, bizonal federation, even without Turkish guarantees and the unilateral right of intervention.
Was it really Akel’s criticism that was fuelling Turkey’s intransigence or the president’s tacit support of a two-state solution that had been conveyed to the Turkish side, according to several reports in Phileleftheros in the last few months? This is all part of Anastasiades’ effort to lead us to partition without taking any responsibility and placing the blame on Turkish intransigence and reinforced by Akel which failed to put the national interest above everything.
Anastasiades has joined the school of thought that believes only those opposed to a federal settlement have the exclusive rights on patriotism. Everyone else is on Turkey’s side, just like he was back in 2004.