A war of words broke out on Friday between President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci over who said what and when about a two-state solution.
Speaking after an even in Ormidhia on Friday night, the president said Akinci’s memory “was deceiving him”, while the Turkish Cypriot leader called on Anastasiades to meet informally to clarify his alleged comments.
Earlier, Akinci met with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in the north, where he referred to Anastasiades’ comments allegedly made in a meeting the president had with Cavusoglu in Crans-Montana in the summer of 2017 when the last round of talks collapsed.
“It was mentioned at various times, but from my mouth you have not heard it. But the time has come for me to say it. Mr Anastasiades told Mr Cavusoglu that the Greek Cypriot community is not ready to share power and that the two-state solution must be placed on the agenda. Later in Cyprus, he [Anastasiades] spoke about a loose federation,” Akinci said.
Akinci added that it was ‘unfortunate’ the Greek Cypriot side was taking steps back, and that this setback failed to create hope for a solution.
While UN envoy Jane Holl Lute continues her work, Akinci said, he wanted to meet with Anastasiades at an informal meeting to clarify in detail. “It will be enough to know what you want. I hope that Ms Lute’s attempt will be successful.”
Cavusoglu echoed the Turkish Cypriot leader, saying that in Crans-Montana it became clear that the Greek Cypriot side was not ready to share anything with Turkish Cypriots.
He added that he also discerned this during both bilateral meetings he had with Anastasiades, the latest being in New York on the side-lines of the UN General Assembly in September 2018.
“To say different things every day to try and gain time is not a tangible approach,” Cavusoglu said.
This was not the first time mention has been made about Anastasiades’ comments over a two-state solution.
In November, the Turkish Cypriot leader said that he had raised the two-state comment previously during an informal dinner he had with the president in April 2018 because he learned that Anastasiades had given this message to Cavusoglu in Crans-Montana.
“We discussed this at our following meeting. Mr Anastasiades says some things behind closed doors but then he does not continue to support what he says publicly, and I think he said this in New York very clearly to Mr Cavusoglu. You cannot develop a policy based on what is said behind closed doors and then change it. Even in public he says he did not say ‘loose federation’ but ‘decentralisation’.”
Firing back on Friday night, Anastasiades said that if the Turkish side ‘truly’ wanted a solution they should submit their position in writing.
“Mr Akinci’s memory deceives him. He forgets that on July 5, one day before the arrival of the UN Secretary-General [in Crans-Montana], I submitted the Greek Cypriot side’s proposals in writing on all the issues the Secretary-General raised, and within the parameters of finding a solution based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation,” Anastasiades said.
He added that after two years they remembered comments he supposedly made about a two-state solution.
“Let me remind you all that I have publicly said that in New York, the person that expanded on such opinions was Mr Cavusoglu and my problem and position was that we should look into the possible decentralisation of powers,” Anastasiades said.
Asked why he thought the Turkish side was making these statements, Anastasiades said: “You will see in the coming days what with happen with the Greek Cypriot community. They are trying to cultivate division and they are avoiding answering.”
“I dare them to come out and say what their written proposals were to the six points set out by the Secretary General,” he added.
He said the Turkish side was seeking control of all of Cyprus “and that will not be allowed.”
Regarding Akinci’s comments on an informal meeting, Anastasiades said that he is always ready.
“It should be remembered though that on April 16 there was a meeting, and Mr Akinci did not want photographers to be present because he did not want to make it seem that we were starting a dialogue.”
He added that the same thing happened with the opening of the Dherynia checkpoint in November, when Akinci did not want Greek Cypriot negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis to go along with a Turkish Cypriot representative.
Both leaders did not attend the opening of the Dherynia checkpoint, even though in the past the leaders of both sides were present at the opening of a new checkpoint.
Commenting on earlier statements made by Cavusoglu over drilling Ankara would carry out in the north in February, Anastasiades said he did not wish to comment as “we are following the policy the state has outlined for our energy plans.”
In statements to Politis daily, government spokesperson Prodromos Prodromou also fired on Akinci and Cavusoglu calling them liars, when asked to comment about their statements on the two-state solution. He said that their statements were Turkish propaganda, which does not serve the goal of re-starting a dialogue or the settlement of the Cyprus problem.
Cavusoglu had said after his meetings in the north: “We are seeing indecisive stances, statements. We are seeing tricks. What are we negotiating for? For a federal solution again? For a two-state solution, or for confederation, or for another option? We should determine this beforehand. This is what we are doing now,” he said.
After this is done, he said, the framework should be determined.
He reiterated Turkey’s position that settlement negotiations should not be open-ended. “We do not have the time and energy to lose for negotiations to stay open for many years. No one has the right to give hopes to the Turkish Cypriot people and then disappoint them again.”
Cavusoglu also said that the Cyprus problem was “a great cause” and that it should not be sacrificed for individuals’ political ideology or political ambitions.
“Let no one forget this. Let no one try to give direction alone to the Cyprus cause by saying I want this, I had said this, I will say this. And this is the reason for our coming to the island today,” Cavusoglu said.
He added that his visit aimed to coordinate Turkey’s and northern Cyprus’ course of action as regards the Cyprus problem. “We have come to determine all together what to do, as was the case until now… I hope that we will be stronger during the forthcoming period in the Cyprus cause by securing this unity during today’s meeting,” he said.