The closer Greek Cypriots get to the scheduled Jan. 28 presidential polls, the more heated discussions will be held on the Cyprus talks issue.
To win the precious support of the pro-federation left vote, incumbent center-right President Nikos Anastasiades has been in efforts to assert his preparedness to resume the talks if elected once elections were over.
As elections date comes closer more details of what indeed happened during the Mont Pelerin and Crans-Montana rounds of Cyprus talks, bargains behind closed doors, particularly details about the July 5 evening when at a dinner an exhausted United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres declared the game ended inconclusively. Who indeed was responsible of the talks landing once again in deadlock? What was the reason that after days of “we are very close to a deal” optimism pumping by Espen Barth Eide, the special envoy of the UN Secretary General, the talks ended inconclusively?
Since talks in Crans-Montana, Switzerland failed, Anastasiades was blamed by both pro-solution supporters of “missing a great opportunity to reach a solution to the long-standing ethnic conflict because he was already thinking about the elections ahead” as well as hardliners, blaming the Greek Cypriot President of “completely yielding to the demands of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots and that the only reason an agreement was not reached was because Turkey wanted even more.”
U.N. Secretary General Guterres had gone to be present during part of the meetings to press Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı to reach a mutually agreeable consensus, a deal reuniting the island in a federal republic. Even the U.S. Vice President Mike Pence had phoned to urge them to “seize this historic opportunity.”
The Greek side accepted a Turkish military presence “to be part of a defense arrangement… for broader geopolitical reasons” albeit with a “sunset clause” requested by Anastasiades, whereas Akıncı on the Turkish side agreed to have territories and localities on the table, which later Espen interpreted as Morphou/Güzelyurt saying “we know that Akıncı meant Morphou but you (Anastasiades) are also right that he only said that special place.”
“AK Party is the most pro-solution party and CHP and CTP are competing now to attack Erdogan for being too forthcoming.”
One of the complaints of the Greek Cypriot side was that the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu had verbally agreed in talks with the UN Secretary General to the termination of the 1960 guarantee scheme as well as the right of unilateral intervention “on day one” in exchange to a “Turkish military camp” on the island but never putting it in writing or confirming what had been discussed, proposed and brought to the table in official statements and press releases. Anastasiades’ main complaint throughout an assessment meeting in the Greek side of Cyprus on 24th of July, 2017 with UN Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide was the way in which Mevlut Cavusoglu negotiated and verbally agreed on certain topics during the meetings and withdrew and never agreed to make statements to the same affect.
At one point of the meeting, mentioning the leaks during the talks, Espen Barth Eide also states “AK Party is the most pro-solution party and CHP and CTP are competing now to attack Erdogan for being too forthcoming.”
Did Akıncı and Çavuşoğlu verbally agree at the Crans-Montana talks to compromise on Morphou, terminate “on day one” the Turkish guarantee as well as Turkey’s unilateral intervention right, radically reduce Turkish troops on the island and eventually go down to the 1960 Treaty of Alliance stipulated military presence numbers (650 Turkish 950 Greek troops)?
Turkey’s persistence on unilateral military intervention rights had been a precondition which Greece’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Stratos Efthymiou said it was impossible for the Greek side to countenance an envisioned Federal Cyprus with “occupation troops on its soil and Turkey clinging to the right of unilateral intervention. This is a non-starter for us,” he said before leaving Switzerland. “We were willing to negotiate troop numbers but Cyprus is an independent EU state. It is not acceptable for a third state to have the unilateral right of military intervention in 2017.”
Cavusoglu’s repeated requests for assurances for security of Turkish Cypriots were countered with “a comprehensive proposal on implementation and monitoring mechanism and addressing the future security of united Cyprus.” This begs the question as to why the Turkish Foreign Minister not even considered evaluating the proposal submitted by Anastasiades?
Had the talks succeeded in at the least to hold a press conference together after the meetings had been concluded, promising hope in the near future all parties were going to score bonuses in their careers.
The UN Secretary General Guterres was going to have a high profile at the G20 talks in Hamburg, where he had met U.S. President Donald Trump, who promised to cut the U.S. share of U.N. funding. Guterres would have won.
Anastasiades and Akinci, beyond their domestic perception as peacemakers in history they were probably going to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. They would have won.
Who wouldn’t benefit from constructive, promising if not conclusive talks?