By Ismail Veli……..
The following article was written in the aftermath of President Akinci’s election. Hopes were high and optimism on both sides of the green line that a negotiated settlement to finally end the Cyprus problem was a possibility.
A year and a half later these hopes have once again been dashed. Recriminations, and counter accusations have replaced the atmosphere of optimism. Akinci in particular has moved from his usual positive approach to express frustration and anger at the negotiating position of the Greek and Greek Cypriot (GC) side. As usual most of the GC media and rejectionist parties put the blame firmly on Turkey’s shoulder while repeating their never ending rhetoric that Akinci is nothing but a puppet of the Ankara government.
To say that Turkey does not have influence would no doubt be wrong, they are no doubt the big player in the Cyprus problem. It’s ironic however that they (the Greek Cypriots) pay little heed to the fact that it was Anastasiades who cut the negotiations short by requesting a week’s interval to consult the GC opposition and above all have a meeting with the Greek Prime Minister Tsipras, who following their meeting declared that Greece would only take part in a multi-party meeting if there was agreement for the abolition of the system of Guarantees which the TC side sees as a red line.
It’s strange that such a declaration was made at such a crucial juncture in the negotiations. It almost reminds many of the time when Christofias contacted Russia to stir the boat (at the UN security Council) in the aftermath of the Annan plan in 2004. Christofias attempts to show that Turkey would in their opinion not be trusted in the implementation of the Annan plan was of course an excuse to secure a rejection by the GC public.
The GC President of the day Papadopoulos, showing tears on the TV in calling for a rejection was an act that should have earned him the Academy award, while Christofias ideology, although completely different from his partner in the Government can be considered to be a shameful episode in Cypriot history.
Our issue now however is that Anastasiades, one of the few leaders who supported the Annan plan was seen as the right man to help solve the dispute with Akinci, who has always argued for a re-united Cyprus. Sadly Anastasiades has shown to lack the necessary, strength, confidence or the will to take on the GC opposition rejectionists who simply do not want an agreement short of TC surrender of all their rights, while claiming a principled stand which is nothing short of plain stupidity, what the hell was Anastasiades expecting by consulting with the rejectionists? Their stand, if successful will help scupper the peace talks, and help cement the partition they profess to hate. Sadly Anastasiades clearly lacks the courage to reshape Cypriot history.
He clearly used Tsipras stand (one can even say he encouraged or requested Athens to take the position they did), and hid behind the farce, and helped appease the hardliners in the south, who had the audacity to blame the Turkish position for the breakdown. Ironically the Greek side then send conflicting messages that the bi-lateral talks were still on schedule. Confused?? many are, but having followed the Cyprus issue from a young age, I was just wondering when something like this debacle would resurface once again.
It’s clear that many on both sides who dreamed of a successful outcome to the latest negotiations were shocked and dismayed, and rightly so. The hope was ”surely at long last we have 2 leaders who can and should bring about a reconciliation.” I have no doubt the international community were shocked and disappointed at the latest turn of events. If that’s the case where is the pressure to push the issue to a conclusion? Well we don’t exactly know what’s going on behind the scenes, but after burning their fingers they are a bit reluctant to get involved. The whole idea was that this time the negotiations would be a Cypriot run affair.
We have seen the British Foreign Minister Monsieur Boris Johnson suddenly arrive in Cyprus, possibly to encourage the 2 sides to solve their differences. Sadly Johnson himself is not a particularly forceful, and in my opinion a bit of a pathetic character on the international stage, but that’s another story. The worse thing is that unless the GC leader Anastasiades stands up to the rejectionists in the south he is doomed to fail, this could leave Akinci in the awkward position of having to explain his immense optimism that the negotiations will end successfully by end of 2016 and put to a referendum in the spring of 2017, How many years have we heard this prediction in the past?? I hate to sound pessimistic and hope that I’m wrong, but perhaps the predictions should have read the years 2116 and 2117.
Fed up? who the hell isn’t?
A new chapter in Cypriot Politics, or is it?
By Ismail Veli…….
The Turkish Cypriot people have elected a new President. Mustafa Akinci who won a resounding victory by winning 60.5% of the votes, with the outgoing Dervish Eroglu only getting 39.5%. The turnout at 64 percent of eligible voters was much lower than past elections. No doubt this seems to many TCs to be a new beginning.
Corruption, despotism and exhaustion with the state of politics in the TRNC have all played a part in the people electing Akinci, a left wing independent politician who has an ambition to finally settle the 60 year, never ending Cyprus problem.
Aside from the immense internal problems, solving the Cyprus problem will be a massive challenge. Once the initial euphoria has settled Akinci will no doubt be faced with immense problems, not least in negotiating a settlement with a weak and indecisive Greek Cypriot leader Anastasiades, who seems more content with finding excuses not to negotiate, rather than attempting to win the honour of settling a dispute which seems never ending. Akinci’s persona and intention to help solve the intractable problem and creating a Bi-zonal, Bi-communal Federation is well known. The international community is well aware of this, as are the vast majority of Greek Cypriots (GCs). Will this be enough? Rather than be happy there is a sneaky feeling that many GC party leaders may feel uncomfortable with the growing international realisation that perhaps the GCs are not really prepared to form a power sharing government that will help bury the enmity of the past.
The historical Greek rejections of 14 out of 16 plans with one Turkish rejection and one equal rejection are well documented. The last one being the Annan plan of 2004 which saw an overwhelming rejection by 76% of the GCs came as a massive shock, not only for TCs, but to the international hopes that the Cyprus problem was finally on the verge of being solved. That was then however. Eleven years on the TCs population have sent a powerful message that they are electing a leader that has the will and ambition to solve the problem.
Raising one’s hopes is not the easiest of routes for TCs who have been disappointed so often in the past. Not least by the international promises to lift the embargoes on the TCs who have shown a desire for peace. To believe we have a Messiah of conflict resolution would be a big mistake for TCs. It takes two to tango, and sadly as we have seen in the past the Cyprus problem seems to have its own dynamics. Whether the GC leader has the foresight and conviction to rise to the challenge is something that Mustafa Akinci may find the biggest obstacle to his dreams of uniting Cyprus. Only time will tell. One thing is for certain however, many people will not blame Akinci for any failure, and if the GC leadership finally comes to the realisation that the international community, not least the United Nations are simply fed up of this never ending saga, they will simply walk away and wash their hands of Cyprus.
With the world in perpetual turmoil, Cyprus is simply seen as just a pointless nuisance on the international stage. If all fails, Mustafa Akinci will end up with the same disappointment that Mehmet Ali Talat (the former TC President) faced with the Greek leader Christofyas. Anastasiades would be well warned to reflect on the price of failure. It would be ironic if permanent partition became an accepted reality under the leadership of Anastasiades who supported the Annan plan in 2004, and Mustafa Akinci whose life ambition is to unite Cyprus. That would be a tragedy written only in a horror story for those that believe in Unity.