Anastasiades Resets Unity Hopes

NICOSIA – Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades has dampened hopes that negotiations to reunify the island could prove fruitful by the spring of 2016.

With hopes soaring that this would finally be a breakthrough period and predictions the May parliamentary elections could be postponed because of a resolution, he said that’s not likely.

In an interview with Kathimerini, Anastasiades said the elections would go ahead normally. On the issue of a referendum on a Cyprus solution, he said there were many details to be agreed yet, squashing his own earlier optimism.

“2016 could pass without a solution,” the told the newspaper but at the same time he didn’t rule out the possibility of a settlement by the summer.

He said maybe there would be and maybe there wouldn’t be, dashing hope for a quick answer to a problem that has vexed diplomats for decades, since the unlawful 1974 Turkish invasion that split the island and as Turkish troops still occupy the northern third.

“The Cyprus problem could be solved tomorrow if the other side made the necessary compromises that would not leave winners and losers,” he said, echoing what Turkish-Cypriot officials said about the Cypriots.

The election of Mustafa Akinci and raised a sense the two sides could compromise but Anastasiades is blaming the Turks and the Turks are blaming him, continuing the endless finger-pointing and blame game.

Talking tough instead of his earlier conciliatory stance, he said Turkey’s hopes of joining the EU, of which Cyprus is a member, would go nowhere unless Ankara compromised. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, however, won’t even recognize Turkey and bars its ships and planes from entering Turkey.

UN Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide, who keeps saying a breakthrough is imminent, said the main topic of discussions with the Turkish leadership was guarantees and ensure long-term security for both sides, according to the Cyprus News Agency.

He said much of his meetings recently were with the guarantor powers, Turkey, Greece and Britain, to see what common arrangement could be found. Turkey as of now, is insisting it continue to be a guarantor power but the Greek Cypriot side does not want guarantees.

The main goal of all sides is that two communities should feel safe “not only today but in the long term,” Eide said, “what we call ‘security through cooperation’ in the sense that the Turkish Cypriot side needs to feel secure as the smaller community and need to feel safe not only in the literal and military sense, but also in the political structures.”

“We want the Greek Cypriots to also feel confidence and security in this structure,’ he added.

Belying all evidence to the contrary, Turkish Foreign Minister Melvut Cavusoglu Tweeted: “Good mtg w/UNSG’s Special Adviser on #Cyprus @EspenBarthEide on current & upcoming period of the negotiation process.”