UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ declared intention to join in the Cyprus peace process pantomime was sincere as the airy-fairy statement that followed the ‘informal’ dinner in Berlin with the two leaders showed. He was in for the long haul, committed to helping the process go nowhere, without suffocating timeframes or an agenda.
This was also a vote of confidence in his envoy Jane Holl Lute who can now continue her mission of failing to secure agreement on the notorious terms of reference, without any pressure to produce a result. As long as she carries on saying absolutely nothing to anyone after her meetings with the leaders the pantomime can keep running and running.
As the statement issued after the dinner made clear, the objective was to “achieve terms of reference to serve as a consensus starting point … for negotiations at the earliest feasible opportunity”. The objective was to achieve a “comprehensive and durable settlement to the Cyprus problem within a foreseeable horizon”.
This foreseeable horizon was just around the corner as the leaders, according to Guterres’ statement, were both “motivated by a sense of urgency”. I guess this last remark was intended to get some real belly laughs from the pantomime audience. After all, the dinner was labeled ‘informal’ by the UN, the diplomatic code for a meeting that should not be taken seriously. Hence too the talk of the ‘informal’ five-party meeting that would take place once the leaders agreed on terms of reference.
For Prez Nik, the Berlin dinner was a personal triumph as he got everything he wanted. The peace process is still ticking along, the UNSG is showing an interest, Lute is to carry on visiting and the proximity talks are continuing, all without the slightest risk of being forced to engage in serious negotiations within a foreseeable horizon.
He had directed the pantomime to exactly where he wanted it. His commitment to BBF could no longer be questioned by the moaning comrades of Akel, despite his toying with the ideas of two states and confederation, because BBF was mentioned in the statement. The risk of talks had been put off until “the earliest feasible opportunity” so the bash-patriotic Rottweilers will stop barking, and meanwhile Akinci, the only Turkish Cypriot interested in a settlement, is on borrowed time as TC leader.
The Cyprob sun has never shone so brightly on Nik. He has now gone from being the pantomime villain to becoming Prince Charming once again. And with the talks put off indefinitely, he also got to play the tough guy and assert there would be no resumption talks unless Turkey stopped its illegal activities in the Cypriot EEZ.
Such was the scale of his triumph that nobody even mentioned the big fuss he had made about the supposed Guterres framework of July 4, which in fact turned out to be a figment of his imagination. In his statement, Guterres said the leaders affirmed their commitment to the six-point framework he presented on June 30, 2017 in Crans-Montana. Was this because the UN had lost the minutes for the July 4 framework as our Prez claimed?
IT MIGHT be a good idea if Nik sent a ‘thank-you’ note to President Erdogan for his contribution to ensuring the informal dinner went so well. Ankara had conveyed to the UN that it would not engage in talks before the April elections in the north. It is hoping that Akinci will lose and the new leader would work harder to secure a settlement.
On our side, meanwhile there was an attempt to find something positive to say about the dinner, It created a “cautious optimism”, opened a “window of hope”, while in the north it was claimed that the “train had been put back on the rails,” but nobody could forecast when it would choo-choo into town.
The wordsmiths of Diko were not happy with Guterres’ reference to the “unsustainable status quo”, explaining that this was a worrying departure from the “unacceptable status quo” always used in the past. What could this mean? Did the UN no longer consider the status quo unacceptable? Had an issue of invasion and occupation been relegated to an ecological matter of sustainability?
THE MERGERS of the municipalities are expected to be announced on Monday by interior minister Constantinos Petrides, although I would not bet any money on this actually happening. The announcement should have been made last Thursday but it was delayed because some mayors did not want to surrender their posts and were fighting to the last to avert mergers.
Ayia Napa mayor, Yiannis Karousos has been fearlessly fighting to prevent his municipality being swallowed up by Paralimni, because the ministry decided there should only be one municipality in the Famagusta district. He has persuaded the Sotira municipality and Liopetri community council to demand that they be merged with the Napa municipality, promising them a development boom.
There is method to the madness. Karousos, who a few months ago announced the cultural desert that is Ayia Napa would be vying for the European capital of culture title, said he did not want to lose Ayia Napa’s world-famous brand recognition. A merger with Sotira and Liopetri raised new possibilities he said. “And with increased resources and population together, we could be a Monte Carlo.”
All that is needed is a merger and Sotira will become a Monte Carlo of the East Med.
OUR VERY own Monte Carlo could be just around the corner from the Las Vegas of the Mediterranean, which is what the equally deluded Turkish Cypriots are planning of turning the fenced-off part of Varosha into, if and when they open it up and rebuild it.
And with Limassol already on the way to becoming the Dubai of the East Med, which is our Prez’s vision, we will give up on a federal settlement and work for a bizonal, bicommunal theme park.
SPEAKING of our delusions of grandeur, apart from Monte Carlo/Dubai aspirations, the transport minister
announced last week that her ministry’s strategic aim was to make our Kyproulla an air transport centre for the broader Middle East region.
Was this her idea or had some ministry mandarin whispered it to her so she could make the news, something that she has not done very often? Will this air transport hub be located at Larnaca airport and become the Frankfurt airport of the East Med theme park.
A WORD of sympathy for Phed Express of Paphos who is being investigated by police, under Section 50 (Cap 154) of the criminal code for allegedly spreading fake news. The mayor had posted on Facebook a comment accusing the cops of turning a blind eye to drug trafficking in the town. This was not the first time he had made such an accusation against the cops, who decided enough is enough.
Strangely, nobody backed the mayor, not even his party, which is rather odd. If this happened to anyone else, the parties and media would have got on their high horse defending the right to free speech and censuring the police action. Not for Phed because he has ruffled too many feathers.
Seeing as though the police are looking into cases of fake news, is there any chance they could investigate Prez Nik who insisted there was a Guterres framework of July 4 and that the UN had lost the minutes? Just asking.
CONGRATULATIONS to ombudswoman Maria Stylianou-Lottidou for not pulling any punches in her investigation into the suicide of a 15-year-old boy last September. She did not opt for the easy way out, of blurring her findings as so many other officials would have done in order not to spark a reaction. “Utter criminal negligence” had been shown by social workers she said and identified the four she found had not done their job.
So shocked were social workers they held an impromptu work stoppage on Thursday and on Monday will stage a strike in protest against the “victimisation” of colleagues. The strike will defend the public employees’ right to do their job as incompetently and inadequately as they like with impunity. There is probably an article in the constitution stipulating this, and if there is not, we will be told it is a conquest of the public parasites that must be respected.
AND WHILE public parasites were defending their right to be crap at their job, even if it costs lives, teenage students boycotted their classes on Thursday because they do not want to sit exams in December. They were fighting for the democratic right to decide when they should sit exams. If they win this struggle, the next step will be to abolish homework.