The denial by the Turkish foreign ministry that Ankara accepted the removal of Cyprus guarantees in Crans-Montana, as well as comments by a former UN senior official saying all sides had gone as far as they could go during the 2017 Swiss talks, vindicates President Nicos Anastasiades’ version of events the government said on Wednesday.
Anastasiades has been accused by main opposition Akel, and others, of rejecting a possible deal in Crans-Montana after Turkey went to the brink on withdrawing its guarantor status.
Turkey said on Tuesday that reports in the Greek Cypriot media that such reports were false.
It is believed the Turkish foreign ministry was commenting on an opinion article published in Politis and the Sunday Mail, which stated Turkey showed a willingness to budge on the guarantees issue at the Crans-Montana talks in 2017.
“When it became apparent in Crans-Montana that Turkey would budge on the issue of guarantees, Anastasiades, instead of putting forward his demands, met secretly with Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglou and proposed a two-state solution so he could rule the south for another five years,” the article said.
In its response Ankara said: “Turkey emphasises on every occasion that a just and comprehensive settlement on the island will be only possible by ensuring the Turkish Cypriots’ political equality and responding to their security concerns.”
“Yesterday’s announcement by the Turkish Foreign Ministry … shatters the narrative of some that in Crans-Montana, Turkey was ready to give up its intervention and guarantor,” government spokesman Kyriakos Kousios said after a cabinet meeting. He said this was a clear admission that Ankara never consented to such a move.
He also referred to an interview in Politis newspaper on Sunday with former UN Assistant UN Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman.
Feltman who was on the front lines in Crans-Montana where the talks ultimately collapsed said, according to a translation from Greek, that even if there were some issues that remained unresolved, “the importance of which I would not want to underestimate”, the impression of UN officials was that Crans-Montana brought both sides and the guarantors to the limits of a solution.
“Although we can take into account many factors, the absence of a solution to the Cyprus problem cannot and should not be attributed to the lack of serious effort. Leaders and negotiators from both communities, along with UN envoys and others, have dedicated time, energy and creativity to trying to make progress,” the former UN official said.
“The seriousness with which the leaders and their teams, as well as the guarantor forces, dealt with the issues always impressed me, especially compared to some of the other peace processes I participated in.”
He added that having seen the seriousness of the two leaders, guarantors and their teams in Crans-Montana, he did not accept that the attempt at a solution was as hopeless as the parallel positions of the two sides might imply.
Kousios said the UN secretary-general had echoed this in subsequent reports on the failed talks.
He said when Turkey’s behaviour was assessed as regards the wider region, including Syria and Libya, Cyprus’ EEZ and even its attitude to Turkish Cypriots and their leader, “there is only one conclusion”. “Turkey should have no role, or reason, to be in Cyprus in a post-solution era,” the spokesman said.
“It is therefore time for Cyprus to realise that together we must face Turkish intransigence and stop the confrontations between us,” he added.