President Nicos Anastasiades suggested Thursday Greek Cypriots would be at a disadvantage if the island was reunited under the current provisions of a federal model, as there were no signs in sight of a resumption any time soon of negotiations that broke down amid acrimony in 2017.
Speaking during a visit at a military camp in Evrihou, Anastasiades said political equality was one thing and “the demand of one community to impose itself on the other through special provisions” another.
“We are not talking about minorities and majorities, we are talking about the functionality of the state so as to ensure its viability,” Anastasiades said.
Addressing Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, who had advised Anastasiades to change tack, the president challenged him to name one country with a federal system “where one of the constituent states will define the other one’s destiny through positive vote mechanisms.”
“Let him show me one country, not a federation, which is under the guarantee of a third country that invaded and occupies the territory of another,” Anastasiades said.
Anastasiades’ raised the matter of decentralised or loose federation early in October, after years of negotiations in which the Greek Cypriot side tried to make the central state stronger.
Main opposition Akel suggested he was departing from the side’s long-standing position and risked dragging the island into official partition and two states. Other observers believe it is a stalling tactic, since the fuss is all about secondary matters, although it was not clear what the endgame is.
The UN Secretary General had dispatched a special envoy to speak to all the sides, including Cyprus’ guarantors, with a view of resuming the talks, which broke down in the Summer of 2017 with the two sides blaming each other.
Turkish Cypriot ‘foreign minister’ Kudret Ozersay said he did not expect anything to happen before the end of the year.
“I had said that the UN cannot pull a rabbit out of a hat,” he said during a televised discussion on Wednesday evening.
Ozersay said the terms of reference for the resumption of talks could be prepared by the end of the year since there was no common vision nor agreement on what the two sides would negotiate.
In his view, the problem was everyone focusing on preparing a document, which would be interpreted differently by the two sides at the end of the day.
“In my view, there is no such possibility,” he said, of a resumption of talks any time soon.
He said possibly next year, after the European Parliament elections, Brexit, local elections in Turkey “we must not discuss the terms of reference directly but whether we have a common vision or not. And if we don’t, there is common ground somewhere.”
Akel criticised the president over his comments, suggesting they were additional proof of his about-turn.
“President Anastasiades could have reacted soberly, rejecting the Turkish Cypriot leader’s claims that he is seeking to turn Turkish Cypriots into a minority as unfounded,” a statement from the party said. “Instead, he made sure to demonise anew, the one positive vote needed in the cabinet and some federal bodies so that the Greek Cypriot majority will not decide on its own.”
Akel said the president can simply compare his recent statements with his past rhetoric to realise the direction he was now headed to.