A week before the informal five-party conference in Geneva President Nicos Anastasiades has quite unexpectedly decided to talk about the minutes of his meeting in Crans-Montana with Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. This was the meeting at which, Cavusoglu claimed, Anastasiades expressed support for a two-state solution, a position he had allegedly also repeated at a meeting in New York subsequently.
In an interview on Alpha TV, Anastasiades spoke about the recording of the conversation by the Turkish side and said our side had also recorded what was said. “I am pleased to say that a transcript of the conversation was requested and was sent, and it coincided absolutely with our own.” There were some omissions, he said but “the most important thing is the observation, from the start of the conversation, when I pointed out to him that it was impossible for the two states to be accepted either by the international community or the EU.”
Why was the president making an issue about the Turkish transcript in the television interview if it “coincided absolutely” with the government’s? Surely, it was a non-issue. Yet government spokesman Kyriakos Koushos was asked about this again on Tuesday and gave a slightly different answer. He said the government had been informed by the UN that the Turkish side had given it, its minutes of the meeting. “What I know is that we kept our own minutes and that the Turkish side gave its own minutes to the UN and that is from where we have our information,” said Koushos.
But it would appear the spokesman had not been briefed by the president about the Turkish minutes. “I do not know if we have obtained the minutes or have been briefed about the content of the minutes,” said Koushos. Had he not watched Anastasiades’ television interview in which he said he had received a transcript of Turkey’s minutes, which “coincided absolutely with our own”? How was the spokesman unaware of such vital information?
Would the UN have forwarded the minutes handed over by Turkey to the Cyprus government? There is no other way Anastasiades would have known that the content “coincided absolutely” with the government’s. But why has the government made such an issue of the matter, and more pertinently, why had the Turkish side sent the minutes to the UN, if not to back its ongoing claim that Anastasiades voiced support for two states at the meeting in Crans-Montana?
These are peculiar goings-on, but we should not be surprised if the minutes of the Anastasiades-Cavusoglu meeting in Crans-Montana become a major issue at the Geneva conference.