NICOSIA — He hasn't used it before but Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said he would use a veto power that requires unanimous European Union consent if the bloc leaders propose any kind of agenda with Turkey that favors a positive agenda.
What drove him to that point, he said, is the insistence by Turkey and Turkish-Cypriot officials for an end to reunification talks in favor of two separate states that would bring recognition the northern third of the island occupied since an unlawful 1974 invasion.
New Turkish-Cypriot chief Ersin Tatar has taken that approach which was mandated by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with Turkey not recognizing Cyprus – a member of the EU – and barring its ships and planes.
Apparently worried that the EU, which has become lenient in dealing with Turkey, might go even further with more considerations to appease Erdogan, who has defied soft sanctions in going ahead with drilling for energy off the island, Anastasiades said this time he would consider a veto.
He hasn't done that over other issues and returned to the table at a United Nations sponsored meeting in April in Geneva, Switzerland that brought together all the parties in what turned into an outright debacle of failure.
Despite everyone knowing that Tatar and Erdogan went into the meeting with no intention of discussing anything except two states, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres brought together the two sides along with the three guarantors of security on the island: Turkey, Greece and the former Colonial ruler the United Kingdom that still has military bases there.
Guterres had tried to be a broker at the previous round of talks that also collapsed, in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana when Erdogan and then Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, a hardliner unlike the nationalist Tatar, nevertheless refused to remove a 35,000-strong standing army and wanted the right of further military intervention.
“I am already informing the leaders of the member-states in a letter, that given Turkey’s change of course with its demand for a two-state solution and on its other positions, I do not see that a positive agenda in Turkish relations can be discussed or agreed upon,” Anastasiades told Kathimerini.
That was in reference to the European Council that's made up of the heads of state of the 27 members of the bloc although he's been reluctant to get tough even as Turkey has increased its provocations.
Anastasiades wants discussions based on a long-agreed basis of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation but Tatar said that has failed miserably and he wants two states as an alternative.
“Turkey’s positions on a two-state solution are a leap into the void. It is a position that is not accepted by either the international community or the European Union, and is completely outside the terms of the UN Secretary General’s mandate,” Anastasiades told the paper.
He said the move by Turkey and the Turkish-Cypriot side was designed to get around the refusal of the world to accept an occupied territory, which would also see a foreign army on an EU land if he went along with it.
“A similar solution would open Pandora’s box and lead to a domino of negative developments in many countries,” he said.
The parties said they would try again to sit down to talk but only, he said, if Guterres and the other parties with stakes get Erdogan and Tatar to change their minds and “so that the Turkish side understands the impossibility of its endeavor.”