AS SOON as the government was informed that Turkey had given its consent for the appointment of a special advisor by the UN secretary-general the familiar rhetoric about the resumption of the negotiations began. The assumption was that Jane Holl Lute would wave a magic wand and the two sides would set aside the conditions they were setting and rush back to the negotiating table.
Disy leader Averof Neophytou described the appointment of Lute as an important development and the first step needed for the resumption of the talks. This step was pending for months as Turkey refused to give its consent for the appointment of Lute who would be able to explore the intentions of the two sides, he said.
What these intentions are nobody knows, even though the Greek Cypriot side is already raising expectations. Government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou, noted that “today it has become possible, after the positive view of Turkey, which was all that remained, for a procedure to start.” The procedure will not necessarily lead to the resumption of talks, but this does not bother the government which is content for there to be some simple movement. Having a UN envoy touring Nicosia, Ankara and Athens for consultations was all that the government was looking for.
This would allow the government to silence its critics who were accusing it of burying the hopes of a settlement. “We should record the fact that contrary to the worries that existed, the Cyprus problem is open and alive,” said Prodromou, indicating that this perhaps was the only concern of the government. The sending of an envoy by the UNSG for consultations was conclusive proof that the Cyprus problem was “open and alive”. Whether the consultations will lead anywhere is irrelevant.
Assertions like Neophytou’s that Anastasiades “from the first moment, expressed his readiness, but also his determination for the resumption of the Cyprus talks, with the Guterres plan as the basis for the talks,” no longer convince anyone. He may have regularly paid lip service to the resumption of the talks, but in the last year he has done nothing practical to prove his words had any substance. The one time there was a small opening, when Mustafa Akinci suggested acceptance of the Guterres framework as a strategic agreement, Anastasiades ensured it was closed by claiming there were two frameworks and only the second was valid.
In the one meeting Anastasiades and Akinci have had since the collapse of the procedure last July, there was fundamental disagreement regarding the resumption of the talks, with the former insisting they were open-ended and the latter demanding a time-frame. Neither is likely to change his position at the meetings with Lute – certainly not Anastasiades who wants the Cyprus problem to be “open and alive” forever.