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Our View: What is behind career-rejectionist’s volte-face?

Greek Cypriot negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis

NEGOTIATOR Andreas Mavroyiannis appears to have taken up a campaign against partition, as well as issuing warnings in the frequent interviews he gives that maintaining the status quo, which most Greek Cypriot parties seem content with, was not an option.

He has been repeating this message ever since the Cyprus visit of the UN secretary-general’s envoy, Jane Holl Lute. He was present at the meeting she had with President Anastasiades.

It is peculiar that Mavroyiannis, who has suddenly become the champion of bizonal, bicommunal federation, has taken this role. When peace talks were in progress, he did not display much enthusiasm for the BBF, often disseminating negativity by highlighting differences over legalistic and technical matters. In fact many had questioned his appointment as negotiator, wondering why Anastasiades had chosen someone that belonged to the rejectionist camp – he was one of President Papadopoulos’ trusted lieutenants in the campaign against the Annan plan.

What is interesting is that we now have a career-rejectionist leading the campaign for BBF and attacking the alternatives, which rejectionists argued were better for the Greek Cypriots. Maintaining that ‘safeguarding’ of the Cyprus Republic should be the priority of the Greek Cypriot side – the position of all the hard-line parties from Elam to Diko – has always been code language for supporting partition, as it precluded a federal settlement.

The anti-settlement camp probably believed that Unficyp would remain indefinitely on the island to police the status quo, something that is looking increasingly unlikely. Perhaps it was the possibility of Unficyp’s withdrawal, conveyed to Anastasiades by Lute, which triggered Mavroyiannis’ change of tack, and his warnings that the status quo would not be maintained if there was a failure to reach a deal. In an interview he gave at the weekend, the foreign minister, Nicos Christodoulides, appeared to be on the same wavelength as the negotiator, although it is not clear whether Anastasiades shares their view about a settlement.

The rejectionist parties have refused to take the bait. They have remained silent, avoiding comment on Mavroyiannis’ warnings. Perhaps they find it difficult to disagree publicly with one of their own, especially after his assertion at the weekend that talk of a “velvet divorce”, was “another covert Turkish approach, which is euphemistically presented as attractive, painless, mutually desirable and profitable”.

The policies advocated by the centre parties on the Cyprus problem would inexorably lead to a “velvet divorce” and Mavroyiannis is deluding himself if he thinks partition is just a Turkish objective.

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