President Anastasiades is unwilling to give up the theatre about his supposed commitment to a Cyprus solution even though the size of the audience that takes it seriously is rapidly contracting. And as this audience contracts, he feels obliged to engage in more theatre aimed at creating the false impression that he is making sincere efforts aimed at the resumption of the peace process.
The latest example of this was the meeting of the negotiating team at the presidential palace on Monday night that was described as “another exercise in public relations” by former attorney-general Alecos Markides, who had been invited to attend but was unable to make it. He did not mince his words, speaking on a radio show on Tuesday morning, accusing Anastasiades of wanting to give the impression there were “intensive efforts ahead of the (UN envoy Jane Holl) Lute visit.”
Markides explained that he was invited to the meeting although he had quit the negotiating team in 2016 without being told what would be discussed – there was no agenda. TV cameras had been invited to the palace to cover the meeting, something that had never been done before for the negotiating team’s meetings, according to Markides, and a big issue was made out of Markides’ absence in television reports. The former AG felt that the presidential palace had made his absence an issue as there was no need inform the press that he had been invited and not shown up.
Perhaps the president wanted to punish Markides for not participating in his public relations exercise. With Akel’s representative Toumazos Tselepis also refusing to attend because the party believed Anastasiades had abandoned the bi-zonal, bi-communal federation, the negotiating team was short of pro-settlement members. Markides made a similar point on Tuesday, pointing out that he had no position on the negotiating teams as he disagreed with the president’s positions on the Cyprus problem, which were inconsistent and slapdash.
This is the view of most thinking people and it is astonishing that Anastasiades believes he can fool them into thinking he was sincere about a federal settlement with public relations exercises, especially when all his speeches radiate negativity and in last 16 months he has done nothing of practical value to suggest he wants the process to resume. Who does he hope to fool? Certainly not the foreign contingent following the Cyprus issue that is fully aware of the president’s games and does not buy his oft-repeated assertion that “failure is owed exclusively to the intransigence of Turkey.” The UN Secretary-General does not share this view.
We can only conclude that the theatre and PR exercises are for his local audience, which he thinks does not deserve honesty from their president.