Ioannis Kasoulides’ first experience of government came almost 30 years ago when he was appointed spokesman of the first Clerides administration in 1993, while he served as foreign minister in the second. He was also foreign minister during President Anastasiades’ first term, returning to the post early this year to fill the post vacated by Nikos Christodoulides, who was considering whether to run for the presidency.

He is a respected, experienced politician, renowned for his integrity and shunning of populism. When he talks, everyone knows he has no secret agenda nor any interest in building his political capital and that he strives to offer a pragmatic account of the political situation. Kasoulides illustrated this quality in the interview he gave to CyBC television on Thursday night, during which he painted a rather bleak picture of the Cyprus issue.

Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar’s claim that another part of the fenced-off area of Varosha would be opened was no idle talk, said Kasoulides, revealing this would be the Ayios Memnonas area. He also said information that public buildings in the area would be restored so as to house ‘government’ services was also correct. Could this be prevented asked the presenter to which the answer was that efforts would be made by the Cyprus government. If past experience was anything to go by, however, government efforts were unlikely to achieve anything.

Preventing the opening of another part of Varosha seems to be of minor concern to the Cyprus government faced with Turkey’s unrelenting drive to secure the recognition of the regime in the north. Turkey has thrown all its weight behind this, said Kasoulides, pointing out that it is raised in all meetings with top foreign officials, of the West and East. There were attempts to open offices of the pseudo state in many countries, Ankara was pushing for ‘official visits’ by Tatar to countries like Azerbaijan and Pakistan and to arrange meetings with government officials in the UK.

In his meeting with the UN Secretary-General in New York last month, Tatar presented his preliminary ‘status of forces agreement’ (SOFA), by which he wanted the UN to sign an agreement with the ‘TRNC’ regarding Unficyp. If the UN failed to do so, he said he would bar the peacekeeping force entering the occupied area. While SOFA was out of the question because it is an agreement made with a recognised state, Kasoulides said there could be something else to satisfy the Turkish side, such as a statement or letter by the Security Council, which would be presented by the regime as a form of recognition.

Even the attempt for cooperation through the setting up of a big photovoltaic park in the buffer zone – a project supported by the European Commission – was being used by Tatar as part of the drive for recognition. The initiative, which would be of great benefit to the north that is constantly faced with power shortages, has been stalled because Tatar wants an agreement between states in order to give his approval, something the Republic will never accept.

The Cyprus issue, for the Greek Cypriots has been reduced to one thing – preventing the recognition, or the upgrading of the status of the ‘TRNC’. This had always been the priority issue of the foreign ministry, an end in itself, but now it seems the only aspect of the Cyprus issue still open. Partition cannot be averted so all efforts are focused on preventing the recognition/upgrading of the pseudo-state. It is not the most constructive policy but we have run out of options even if President Anastasiades likes to pay lip service to the resumption of the talks.

But even for the resumption, Tatar has set recognition as a condition. The only reason the Turkish side has agreed to the visit of the assistant Secretary-General, Rosemary DiCarlo – she is expected on a fact-finding visit this month – was to show there is no common ground for a resumption of the talks, which, presumably, makes partition inevitable and is helpful to the quest for recognition.

We appear to have run out of options, and although Kasoulides did not spell this out, he was scathing about the ideas put forward by the presidential candidates. He dismissed them as proposals aimed at creating impressions rather than having results. More bluntly, these are unrealistic proposals, without any substance, aimed at wooing voters. Then again presidential election campaigns have always served up nice-sounding ideas that are guaranteed to lead nowhere. But even now, that everything seems to be lost and we have run out of options, candidates refuse to give up trading in wishful thinking.