Daily Alithia on Monday ran what was likely the most intelligent local April Fool’s story, with a ‘reveal’ that the long-lost minutes of a UN meeting have miraculously been recovered, paving the way for the resumption of Cyprus peace talks.
Citing ‘credible diplomatic sources in Nicosia’, the paper joked that Jane Holl Lute, the UN envoy, has tracked down the missing minutes of the July 4, 2017 meeting in Crans-Montana.
As a matter of public record, the July 4 meeting was where the UN’s facilitator at the time conveyed some clarifications on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ framework for a settlement that the UN chief had submitted to the parties on June 30 of that year.
In a twist earlier this year, President Nicos Anastasiades claimed that minutes were kept for that crucial meeting, but that they had somehow vanished.
According to the government, without these minutes the Guterres framework cannot be included in the terms of reference for the negotiations, and without the framework there can be no resumption of talks.
During a meeting with Lute this year, Anastasiades reportedly asked her if she could trace these minutes.
The significance of the minutes lies in this: the Turkish Cypriot side contends that if the Greek Cypriots accept the Guterres framework without changes, it could be announced as a strategic package agreement.
But Anastasiades insists the June 30 framework submitted by Guterres has been superseded by the one of July 4, which he says is the only valid one. However, with the minutes of the July 4 meeting nowhere to be found, there is no reference point to continue the talks.
To this day, it is unclear whether minutes were indeed kept on July 4.
But that is beside the point, according to pundits. Some commentators see the fuss over the minutes as mere shadow play by Anastasiades, given that UN sources have confirmed that during the July 4 meeting no substantive changes were made to the Guterres framework.
This suggests that whether the minutes exist or not is irrelevant, and Anastasiades is suspected of inventing pretexts to stay away from the negotiating table.
But back to the mischievous Alithia report. The author was bright enough to insert a dead giveaway: that it is not known whether the government itself is aware the ‘missing’ minutes have surfaced.
The same bogus report then deployed another tell: with the minutes now having being found, it said, Nicosia is keen to use them to get reunification talks back on track as swiftly as possible.
“It is quite possible that we may see developments in the talks even before the European Parliament elections, because it’s well known that the Greek Cypriot side does not view any kind of elections as an encumbrance to the negotiations.
“This is in contrast to Ankara, which intends to freeze the talks until after the European Parliament elections, which have no relation whatsoever to Turkey.”
The report ends on a note of sarcasm, evidently directed at Anastasiades: “It is acknowledged that it is the Greek Cypriots who are in a hurry to achieve a solution.”