WHEN there is no news about the Cyprus problem, we have to make it up. It would be unheard of for a Cyprus president to meet with the British prime minister at Downing Street and not have anything to say about the latest developments in the national problem. Everyone knows there is nothing happening and that President Anastasiades would like to keep it that way, but what meaning would a meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May have if it did not deal with our national problem.
The irony is that when a British government says something of substance about the Cyprus peace process or tries to contribute positively to it, our political parties and newspapers are up in arms accusing it of interfering, being pro-Turkish, promoting its own interests and setting traps for the Greek Cypriots. Now that Britain, like the US and the EU, has given up on the Cyprus problem, having no time to waste on an issue that the interested parties do not want to solve, our government does not seem to like it. This indifference would have been evident even if the British government did not have the all-consuming issue of Brexit to deal with.
It is in this context that Anastasiades’ meeting with May last Tuesday should be viewed. After “a very constructive meeting,” which also discussed bilateral relations in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the president informed journalists that May, “most importantly, reiterated the position that Britain would not wish to continue its role as a guarantor power.” This was nothing new, the British government having made this clear in Crans-Montana, but the president had to find something to say and a theoretical point was the best he could do.
Foreign minister Nicos Christodoulides secured a similar reassurance from Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt at their meeting. According to Phileleftheros, he “asked Hunt re-confirm the British position that London was not seeking a role as a guarantor power and he was told what May said subsequently.” Apart from this being old news, it has no importance or value, considering Britain would give up its guarantor role only in the event of a settlement which is not imminent – it is not even on the horizon thanks to Anastasiades.
The stance of the UK government on a non-issue at least secured a positive press in Cyprus which is a rare occurrence. Even the papers that always criticise British policy on the Cyprus problem were unable to find anything negative to say about Anastasiades’ meeting with May.