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Our View: Government’s claims of vindication are misleading

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu

The Anastasiades government wasted no time in adopting Tuesday’s statement by the Turkish foreign ministry, which said “news in the Greek Cypriot press according to which our country had agreed to the lifting of the system of guarantees in Cyprus does not correspond to reality.” It was referring to an article that appeared in the Sunday Mail which said Turkey, at the talks in Crans-Montana in 2017, had signaled to the UN secretary-general its readiness to scrap guarantees on condition that the Greek Cypriot side agreed to political equality.

Government spokesman Kyriakos Kousios said on Wednesday that the 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 rights.” The announcement vindicated President Anastasiades’ version of events, said Kousios. At the time the president had blamed Turkish intransigence for the collapse of the talks, although this was not the view of the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, who had noted in his report the guarantor powers had adopted a constructive approach at the talks on the issue of security.

The readiness with which the government adopted the views of the Turkish foreign ministry and treated it as gospel was astonishing. It did not do the same when Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that at a meeting during the Crans-Montana conference Anastasiades had told him the Greek Cypriots were not prepared to share power with the Turkish Cypriots and partition was the only viable solution. In this case the Turks were lying, but when they spoke about the guarantees on Tuesday their words were the unadulterated truth.

Yet the statement of Turkey’s foreign ministry does not negate what was said in the article, which explained that Cauvusoglu had informed Guterres that guarantees could go if the Greek Cypriots agreed to the Turkish demand for political equality and rotating presidency. Anastasiades wanted Turkey’s proposed concession in writing, which he would never have received without an overall agreement and therefore the negotiations came to nothing. Turkey had not agreed to scrapping the system of guarantees, but this did not mean it had not been prepared to discuss them as Anastasiades has claimed.

On Wednesday night Kousios issued another statement, this time responding to Akel’s comments questioning Anastasiades’ narrative about Crans-Montana and censuring it for not accepting the government version of events. If the government was so confident about the accuracy of its version of events in the Swiss resort it would not be on the defensive and citing the position of Turkey’s foreign ministry to prove its case.

 



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