TURKISH Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci is perfectly justified to be cross with ‘foreign minister’ Kudret Ozersay for holding a secret meeting with President Anastasiades without informing him. Akinci, like the rest of us, found out about the meeting from a Turkish Cypriot newspaper and received confirmation from the north’s ‘prime minister’ Ersin Tatar.
Akinci’s spokesman lashed out against Ozersay, for whom having meetings without informing the Turkish Cypriot leader had become a “behaviour stance” that was “incompatible with ethical political values”. It was a “lamentable stance”, said Burcu, but he also knows without mentioning it that Ozersay does as he pleases because he has the backing of the Turkish government, in contrast to Akinci who has been sidelined.
This secret meeting also raises questions for the Greek Cypriot side. What was Anastasiades doing secretly meeting Ozersay? He may be Ankara’s man but he does not have authority to engage directly in talks with the Greek Cypriot leader? Did they discuss ways of undermining Akinci, the only politician that sincerely supports a bizonal, bicommunal federation, or did Anastasiades want to open a channel of communication with the Turkish government through Ozersay?
What are we to conclude when our president snubs the pro-settlement Turkish Cypriot leader and has a secret meeting with a politician that is fully aligned with Ankara’s pursuit of partition? It was a “dinner of a social nature” Anastasiades said, citing the presence of their wives to back this claim, supported also by Ozersay. “I do not think I need to ask permission about who I will eat with or not, especially when it is a clearly social event,” said Anastasiades.
Of course the president does not need to ask anyone’s permission, but this was not just a dinner with some old friends, but with the ‘foreign minister’ of the north and it was kept a secret, immediately raising suspicions about the agenda on the menu. Ozersay was quite revealing on Wednesday when he said that “such dialogues are often more constructive than official meetings.” He was clearly referring to the Cyprus problem, as he subsequently said there were new ideas regarding a settlement – as a bizonal, bicommunal federation was no longer an option – and it was useful for these to be discussed.
And these, apparently, can be discussed at social dinners in the presence of wives. What new ideas was Anastasiades discussing informally with Ozersay, the man who hopes to become the Turkish Cypriot leader next year? Greek Cypriots have a right to know.