Opposition Akel on Sunday questioned President Nicos Anastasiades’ commitment to a resumption of talks suggesting he would lay down conditions that would stop UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres from recommending a new round of negotiations.
The comments came shortly after Anastasiades landed in New York for the UN General Assembly, and also for a meeting with Guterres on September 28. Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci is due to meet the UN chief on September 29.
On his arrival in the US, Anastasiades underlined his determination and willingness to work for the resumption of talks.
He referred to the initiatives anticipated from Guterres if the UN chief deems the resumption of talks possible – either in the form of bicommunal talks or a new Conference on Cyprus on the basis of the report of his special envoy or the scheduled meeting between the two men next Friday.
“Our position is well-known, we are determined and we also have the will in order for talks to resume – after there has been a preparation to avoid a new failure – at a new Conference from where we were left off on the basis of the Guterres framework,” said Anastasiades.
Guterres is only expected to call for a resumption of talks if a report by his envoy Jane Holl Lute sees prospects for success if a new conference on Cyprus is called. The Greek Cypriot side said a new conference must be well prepared to ensure success.
But in a written announcement on Sunday Akel spokesman, Stefanos Stefanou, said the party it agreed that good preparation was necessary “but we wonder what message the president’s statements about good preparation are giving to the international player when 15 months have elapsed since the UN Secretary-General asked both sides to prepare for a resumption of negotiations? In so many months, what did the President of the Republic actually do?
“The statements made by the president pose a risk that the Greek Cypriot side will lay down conditions for the resumption of negotiations at the same time that the UN Secretary-General clearly asks the two sides to preserve the negotiating material and to negotiate on the basis of his framework, which – among other things – provides specific conditions for security and guarantees,” Stefanou added.
He said the statements made by the president leave the Greek Cypriot side exposed to possible accusations if the UN Secretary-General considers that there are no preconditions for resuming the negotiations “and then the negative consequences will be great”.
The Akel spokesman also criticised Anastasiades for not even considering it necessary to consult with the political forces on the island prior to his departure for the US.
“Obviously, he feels self-sufficient to bear the brunt of any developments and the responsibilities for any [negative] developments will be entirely his,” Stefanou added.
Reports on Sunday said Turkey was making targeted attempts to change the basis of the negotiations, seeking a confederal instead of a federal solution. The Turkish Cypriots also want a fixed timetable.
When the last round of talks broke down in Crans-Montana, Switzerland last year, Ankara said it was time to look outside the UN framework for a solution.
The urgency of the negotiations resuming has also in part, a connection with a wider review of peacekeeping forces around the world. Unficyp’s mandate expires at the end of January 2019 and there is no guarantee it will be renewed given the lack of a settlement and the length of time the force has been in Cyprus – March 1964.
Greek Cypriot negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis said earlier this month: “We have to find ways to prove the direct relation between Unficyp’s presence and the Cyprus peace effort and this calls for a hell of a lot of work in the immediate future.”
Mavroyiannis referred to the necessary basis to continue, saying that everybody had to accept to work on the basis of Security Council parameters, to commit themselves to the acceptance of the good offices mission of the UNSG and to agree on the methodology and the negotiating manner.
Reiterating that no strict timeframes must be set, he said progress in negotiations would dictate timeframes, acknowledging that a conference on Cyprus would last some days.