IT was high time President Anastasiades felt a little political pressure domestically for his handling of the Cyprus problem, which is designed to lead to partition. He has had comfortable ride since the collapse of the talks, ingratiating himself with the rejectionists with his do-nothing approach, which he blamed on Turkish intransigence, while claiming rather unconvincingly that he was eager to return to negotiations.
His actions did not support this assertion and neither did his rhetoric, which consisted of setting a list of conditions for returning to the talks while also arguing that he did not discern any change in Turkey’s positions. When his bluffing was exposed by Mustafa Akinci, who proposed in April the Guterres framework be accepted as a strategic agreement, Anastasiades immediately fudged the issue. He claimed he would only accept the second framework that did not really exist.
Having returned from New York and a meeting with the UN secretary-general at which he made no practical commitment to the settlement efforts – his only concern was averting the deadlock that could lead to the withdrawal of Unficyp – questions were justifiably raised about his intentions. Akel stepped up its criticism, accusing him of leading things to a two-state solution while last week, Disy chief Averof Neophytou, after contacts he had in the US, warned that the window for a solution was closing. In a clear dig at Anastasiades, he said foreigners were not convinced we wanted a solution, while two days later he predicted that we would face a “national tsunami”.
These were perfectly legitimate points, also made more diplomatically by negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis last August – he spoke about the end of an era in the Cyprus talks – without provoking a reaction from the president. The comments of the Disy chief, however, led to an angry outburst by Anastasiades on Saturday night when he said he was tired of scare-mongering and hearing about tsunamis. He also argued that these comments should not be made in public, the implication being that the public should be kept in the dark about the consequences of his decisions.
“All this scare-mongering, if there is anything to it, should be told to the one that must hear it, and that person is me,” he said. “We should not give the picture that we are not doing anything or that we are in danger at any moment etc.” Surely, the public has a right to be told if their president’s actions are leading to partition with dire consequences for the country, especially when their president has an agenda that he shares with nobody regarding the Cyprus problem.
With the two biggest parties publicly questioning his decisions, perhaps Anastasiades will be forced to speak honestly to people about his intentions and stop hiding behind his empty rhetoric about his alleged commitment to reunification.