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Our View: Anastasiades keeps digging a deeper hole for himself

President Nicos Anastasiades

It is quite astonishing that a rash remark by President Anastasiades last week, during his public sparring with Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar about the revocation of 14 passports, has dominated political debate ever since. If it were a debate of substance, it would have been welcome, but it was nothing of the kind.

It was just another presidential political blunder, of the type that degenerates into farce, because Anastasiades is incapable of admitting that he may have been wrong to bring up the return to the 1960 constitution, because he had not given the matter the thought it required. Instead, he declared it a formal proposal, called a meeting of the negotiating team to discuss it and convened the national council to do the same.

What was there to discuss, considering the proposal, allegedly, had already been submitted to the Turkish Cypriot side and had been turned down? It was a non-starter, as anyone could have told the president as soon as he uttered it. The theatre of having pointless meetings to discuss a proposal that belonged in the realm of fantasy was intended as a face-saving exercise by Anastasiades but could only have added to the embarrassment.

An attempt by foreign minister, Nikos Christodoulides, to lay the matter to rest at the weekend, by referring to the president’s remark as a ‘figure of speech’ was rejected by the president who, felt obliged to maintain the pretense that his proposal was serious and deemed further discussion with the negotiating team and the national council.

At the negotiating team meeting, according to a press report, it was decided that the president did not actually mean a return to the constitution of 1960, which provided for a Turkish Cypriot vice president, with veto powers, as well as Turkish Cypriot officials in all state services, but to that of 1964, based on the ‘law of dire necessity’. In short, the president was proposing the Turkish Cypriots should agree to an arrangement in which they were completely excluded from the state’s decision-making.

The joke does not end there. After Wednesday’s national council meeting, the government spokesman, insisted the return to 1960 was a proposal and was “within the framework of the initiatives undertaken by the President of the Republic aimed at the resumption of talks.” Is Anastasiades fooling himself or the Greek Cypriots? Is there really any chance of his outlandish proposal leading to a resumption of talks?

Of course not, but the president seems determined to prove that his proposal was serious and sincere. The problem is that the more he tries the more ridiculous it all appears and questions are raised about his judgment.


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