EVERY once in a while, when there is a dearth of news about the Cyprus problem, Nato is introduced into the political debate without any real reason. President Anastasiades sparked the latest manifestation, causing one newspaper to ask whether this “constituted one of the many fireworks he has been setting off about the Cyprus problem in the last few weeks, disorientating public.”
The paper also speculated that this was a Machiavellian tactical move to split the pro-settlement forces of Akel and Disy, “which have united regardless of ideology, and are relentlessly criticising his political transformations and inconsistencies”. Bringing up the possibility of Nato guarantees in a settlement was certain to spark a knee-jerk reaction by Akel, which still maintains its Cold War era pathological hatred of the alliance, but it seems a bit far-fetched to suggest it was a calculated move by the president.
Nato guarantees were not part of the speech he made on Monday night. Asked whether any thought had been given to Nato guaranteeing a settlement, he said there were many parties that could do that, including the UN and the EU. Asked if he had excluded Nato, he said, “I haven’t excluded anything from the discussion.” Under the circumstances it is rather far-fetched to claim that he had introduced the matter into the debate. He was not to blame for the media making so much out of his answer.
Akel created all the fuss that followed out of a non-issue, at a time when the two sides are not even involved in a peace process. It was madhouse politics to discuss Nato guarantees for a settlement that remains nothing more than a pipe dream at present. Perhaps the communists were afraid that if they did not respond in the predictable way, the media would report that ‘Akel does not rule out Nato guarantees.’
Party spokesman, Stefanos Stefanou, therefore had to remind us that Nato was an “aggressive coalition” whose “involvement in the solution puts Cyprus and its people facing new dangers.” Akel would “never accept a settlement with Nato guarantees and a Nato presence in Cyprus,” said Stefanou, not realising how absurd this sounded. It suggests that Akel would prefer the Turkish occupation troops remained indefinitely than have a Nato presence and guarantees?
The communists will never get over their hatred of Nato, instilled in them by their Soviet masters, but they should learn to exercise restraint 30 years after the end of the Cold War. There is no need to make a fuss out of a non-issue, which serves no purpose other than to ease the pressure on the president from the pro-talks camp.